Top 9 Ways to Fix Unable to Change Default Programs in Windows 10

Top 9 Ways to Fix Unable to Change Default Programs in Windows 10

The applications offered by Microsoft are excellent. But not everyone is a fan. This is why people are looking for alternatives and want to use these alternatives as default apps. Instead of opening your file manually in your favorite app, you can set that app as default. This way, these files will automatically open in your favorite app. Unfortunately, some users cannot change the default programs on their Windows 10 computers. Are you having the same problem? Find out 9 ways to solve this problem.

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Some users cannot see the required application in the application list. For others, the default app keeps resetting itself. Regardless of the issue, the fixes mentioned below should fix the issue.

Let’s move on to the solutions.

1. Restart the computer

It might sound like a silly suggestion, but “Have you tried turning it off and on?” If the answer is no, restart your PC once and then try to change the default apps as shown below.

2. Use the correct methods to change default apps

There are many ways to change the default apps or programs on Windows 10. Try them all and see which one acts like a godsend.

Method 1: from settings

Open Settings on your computer or use the Windows key + I keyboard shortcut to open Settings. Access the applications. Click Default Applications. You will find basic apps like email, browser, music player, etc. which can be set as default here. Click on the application (if already defined) or click on Choose a default value to define or modify the default application. Select the application you want to use in the window that opens.

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Method 2: Change the default applications by file type and protocol

If you can’t find the extension or service you want to change the default app for from the apps above, scroll down on the same screen i.e. Settings> Apps> Default apps. You will find three options: choose default apps by file type, choose default apps by protocol, and set defaults by app.

Note: It may take some time for apps or extensions to load when you click any of the three options above. So wait for it to load.

The first allows you to select default apps for various file extensions. When you click on it, you will see all the file types (PDF, PNG, HTML, MP3, etc.) available on your PC as well as the default application used to open that type of extension. Click the app next to the file extension to change the default app. Restart the PC.

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The next one i.e. choose apps by protocol allows you to assign default app to various protocols like HTTP, HTTPS, etc.

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The latter is a combination of the two above. It shows that you have installed applications on your computer and lets you decide which protocol or file type should use the default application.

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Click on the name of the app and press the Manage button. You will see various extensions and associated protocols. Modify them as needed by clicking on the name of the application.

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Method 3: Change Open With

In this method, you have to find the type of file which is to be opened with your required application. For example, if you want PDF files to open in Acrobat Reader instead of Chrome browser. To do this, find a PDF file. Right-click on it and choose Open With. A list of applications will appear. Click Choose another app even if your required app is displayed in the list of apps.

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Now click on the app you want to use as the default for these file types. However, check the “Always use this app to open xyz files” checkbox. Then click Ok. If the required app is not listed, click More Apps to view more apps.

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If the app still does not appear, scroll down in the list of apps after clicking More apps. You will find Look for another app on this PC. Click on it and find the app manually from your PC.

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Note: Make sure you check the box next to “Always use this app to open xyz files”.

Method 4: from properties

Another way to change the default application for a file type is to use properties. Right click on the file for which you want to change the default application. Select Properties from the menu.

Cannot change default app in Windows 7

Under the General tab, click on the Edit button present next to Open with. Select the app you want to set as default. Click Ok to save the changes.

Cannot change default app in Windows 10

Pro tip: If your favorite app is missing from the default apps list, check out different ways to fix the problem.

3. Restore default value

If the problem persists, go to Settings> Apps> Default apps as you did in method 1 above. Scroll down and click on the Reset button. This will reset the default apps displayed on this screen to Microsoft apps. Restart your PC. Once that happens, change the default apps as per your choice.

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4. Uninstall the app

If you cannot find the app which should be set as default or if it is not set as default using any of the methods above, you should uninstall the app. Restart your computer. Then re-download it again.

For example, if you want to use Firefox instead of Chrome as your default browser, uninstall Firefox and download it again. Hope everything will work out fine.

5. Choose a different application

It’s a gentle workaround to fix things. Basically, choose a different default app instead of the app you actually want to use. When this is set, replace the default application with the required one after restarting your PC. For example, if you plan to use Firefox as your default browser instead of Chrome, first select Microsoft Edge. Then switch to Firefox.

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6. Look for the default settings in the app

Some applications come with a native setting to set the default program. So look in your app settings. You might find a button to make this the default app. Activate or click on it.

7. Check the recently installed app

Have you recently installed an app for the same file type whose default app you want to change? If so, uninstall this app or look in its settings to remove it as the default app. Restart your computer.

Professional advice: You should also check recently connected third-party apps with OneDrive in Windows 10. If you are not using OneDrive, try disabling it as well.

8. Switch to Microsoft account

Previously, it was not necessary to connect Microsoft account to Windows 10 PC. Now, some strange issues can occur if Microsoft account is not signed in. So instead of using a local account, switch to the Microsoft account. To do this, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open the settings on your computer. Access accounts.

2nd step: You’ll see “Sign in with a Microsoft account instead” on the right side of the Your info setting. Click on it and add your Microsoft account details. Otherwise, if you don’t see this option, click Email & Accounts in the left sidebar. Then under Accounts used by other apps, click Add a Microsoft account. Add your details. Restart the computer.

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Note: Once you’ve added a Microsoft account, use the same account details to sign in to Windows.

9. Delete Microsoft account

If a Microsoft account is already added, you need to remove it and then add it again. or use a different Microsoft account. This is because sometimes the account password has been changed or there is some other problem with it. Therefore, you cannot change the default apps.

To delete the account, go to Settings> Accounts> Email and accounts. Click on your Microsoft account in the “Accounts used by other applications” section. If you see Delete, click it. Otherwise, click Manage. You will be redirected to your account settings. Go to Devices and delete your linked PC. Restart the PC. To add the account again, follow the steps mentioned in the method above.

Point: Your files will not be affected by removing or adding a Microsoft account.

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Update Windows

Often times, such issues arise due to a bug in the operating system itself. Check if an update is available for your Windows 10 computer by going to Settings> Update & security. Click Check for Updates. Install the update if available. Restart your computer. Hope you should be able to change the default apps.


Does your computer have less free storage? Find out what the meaning of storage is on Windows 10 and how to use it to increase space from the following link.

Last updated Oct 16, 2020

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