Managing Default File Extensions in Windows 7
How Programs Change Default File Extensions
Have you ever installed a new program only to find that it has changed the default file extensions? Software developers often set up their installation programs to make the new program the default program for specific file extensions, thus ensuring that their programs are widely used. For example, if you install a new media player, that new media player could set itself up as the default player for all of your music, video, and multimedia files. This is useful if you like the new media player better than your old one, but it can be annoying if you prefer a different program.
How to Change the Default File Extensions in Windows 7
Windows 7 comes with a built-in tool for managing programs and file extensions. This tool is found in the Control Panel under Programs. Go into the Control Panel and choose Programs > Default Programs > Associate a File Type and Protocol with a Program. Alternately, you can simply go to the Start button and type “file extension” into the Search bar and then click the “Change a file type associated with a file extension” link. Either way, you’ll be taken to a screen where you can change the default program for opening a given file type.
For example, let’s say that a new media player has replaced Windows Media Player as the default program for MP3 files. If you want to keep the new media player on your system as a secondary program and set Windows Media Player as the default for MP3 files, simply scroll through the list until you find the MP3 file extension, highlight it with your mouse, and then click the Change Program button. Windows will then display its recommendations. If Windows Media Player is listed, highlight it, and click OK (make sure that the “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file” button is checked). If not, click the Browse button and locate it on your computer. Once found, set it as the new default program.
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Changing Default File Extensions Using Windows Explorer
You can also change the default program for an extension using Windows Explorer. Simply find the file type in Windows Explorer and right-click the file. A submenu appears offering several choices. Choose “Open With” followed by “Choose Default Program.” Again, you’ll be prompted to either choose one of the recommended programs or browse for your desired program. Select the program, double-check to make sure that the “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file” button is checked, and click OK.
Managing file types and the programs that open them is generally pretty easy to do. Whether a newly installed program has changed these settings or you simply prefer a different default program, you’ll need to tell Windows what you prefer by making these basic changes.