Default Programs is a control panel that is split into four programs. Set Your Default Programs, Associate A File Type Or Protocol With A Program, Change AutoPlay Settings and Set Program Access And Computer Defaults. In this section I will explain SET PROGRAM ACCESS AND COMPUTER DEFAULTS which allows you to set the default (normally used) Web Browser, E-Mail Client and Media Player.
To use the Default Programs control panel go to the Control Panel and click on the DEFAULT PROGRAMS icon. This will bring up the Default Programs window (Fig 1.1).
Fig 1.0 - Click on the DEFAULT PROGRAMS link to continue
Fig 1.1 - The Default Programs window - Click on the SET PROGRAM ACCESS AND COMPUTER DEFAULTS link.
When the Default Programs window appears click on the SET PROGRAM ACCESS AND COMPUTER DEFAULTS link (above) to continue. Doing so will make the Set Program Access And Computer Defaults window appear (below), which is separate to the Default Programs window. The Default Programs window remains open.
Fig 1.2 - The Set Program Access And Computer Defaults window
When the Set Program Access And Computer Defaults window opens (above) for the first time it has its three options (Microsoft Windows, Non-Microsoft and Custom) collapsed/closed. In Fig 1.2 above if you click on an option's expand-arrows, on the right-hand-side, it will either expand/open the option (down-arrows) or collapse/close the option (up-arrows) whereas clicking on an option's radio (circle) button will simply expand/open that option. Once an option has been expanded/opened it reveals its settings.
Fig 1.3 - The CUSTOM settings
As you can see; When you click on the CUSTOM option's expand-arrows (Fig 1.3 above) its settings are revealed (above). Also notice its expand-arrows (down-arrows) have changed into the collapse-arrows (up-arrows) and its radio (circle) button is selected.
The CUSTOM settings are stating that they are using the current (last set) default programs and that they are allowing access to the other listed programs. This access means that if a particular program does not want to use the default web browser (i.e. Internet Explorer) it can use (have access to) the other web browsers (i.e. FireFox or Opera). And the same applies to the default e-mail program and the default media player program.
If you want to change the default web browser to Firefox all you need to do is click on its radio button (Fig 1.4 below). This will fadeout the ENABLE ACCESS TO THIS PROGRAM setting for FireFox because you have chosen FireFox as the default web browser, therefore programs will have access to it by default. And the same applies to the e-mail program and the media player program. Simply select the radio button of the e-mail program and media player program you want to use as the default. You do not have to select a radio button for each default program. If you are happy with the default web browser for example leave its setting as USE MY CURRENT WEB BROWSER. And if you do not want to give access to a certain program, such as FireFox, untick its ENABLE ACCESS TO THIS PROGRAM setting.
Fig 1.4 - Click on a program's radio button to select it as the default program
When you have selected your default programs click on the OK button to apply them. If you decide you do not want to change any of the settings after all click on the CANCEL button to exit the Set Program Access And Computer Defaults window without changes. Clicking on the HELP button will bring up the Windows Help And Support file.
When you choose to use Microsoft only default programs it will use Internet Explorer 11 as the default web browser, Windows Live Mail as the default e-mail program and Windows Media Player as the default media player program. Other non-microsoft programs will still be accessible for other programs to use.
Fig 1.5 - Click on the OK button to use Microsoft only default programs
You can ignore the Instant Messaging Program and Virtual Machine For Java settings because they can not be changed. These settings are also in the CUSTOM settings, if you scroll down the settings, and in the NON-MICROSOFT settings as well (below). This is because these types of program do not need to be defaulted. You can use many instant messengers (i.e. Skype and Yahoo Messenger) at the same time regardless if one is the default messenger or not.
If you do not want to use any Microsoft default programs and also want to deny other programs from accessing them as default programs you should click on the NON-MICROSOFT option. It disables access to Microsoft default programs so that other programs can not access them or use them as a default program. For example: If a program wants to show you a web page using Internet Explorer 11 it will be told to use the non-microsoft default (web browser) program instead - The non-microsoft default (web browser) program you have chosen in the NON-MICROSOFT settings.
Fig 1.6 - The NON-MICROSOFT settings
After clicking on the NON-MICROSOFT radio button use the drop-down menus (above) to select each default program in turn. When you have selected your three default programs click on the OK button to apply them (Fig 1.8 below). The OK button will only be available when you have selected all three default programs.
Fig 1.7 - Select a default media player from the drop-down menu
Fig 1.8 - Click on the OK button to apply your chosen default programs
Fig 1.9 - Your chosen default programs are being applied as the standard default programs
Once your chosen default programs have been applied, as the standard default programs, software and programs alike will know which (default) program to use for the Internet, E-Mail and Music respectively. However, this does not mean they have to use the default program though. Music programs for example tend to favor iTunes, if it is installed and has access rights (is enabled), even when Windows Media Player is set as the default media player.
Default Programs, the control panel, just makes it easier for software and programs alike to know what the default programs are. You, as a human, can manually open a music file with any program that supports the music file's Type, but when a computer opens a music file it must have some clue as to what program to use with that music file in order to open and play that music file.
If you want to open a file manually but at the same time have the choice of which program to open the file with, right click over a file to bring up its context (Options) menu and from there hover over the OPEN WITH sub-menu and either select a program from the list or click on the CHOOSE ANOTHER APP sub-menu menu-item (Fig 1.10 below). If you select a listed program (i.e. the Groove Music program) your file will be opened with that listed program now, but only now. After that it will open with its normal defaulted program (i.e. iTunes), when double clicked on, until you use this right click option again.
Fig 1.10 - Select a listed program (i.e. the Groove Music program) or click on the CHOOSE ANOTHER APP sub-menu menu-item
If you clicked on the CHOOSE ANOTHER APP sub-menu menu-item (above) you will be able to choose the exact program your file is to be opened with, by default. In this example the Song.m4a audio file defaults to being opened with iTunes. By using the OPEN WITH requester (below), that appears after clicking on the CHOOSE ANOTHER APP sub-menu menu-item (above), you can select a default program for the file.
Fig 1.11 - Click on the MORE APPS link to see more programs that could be used as your file's default program
Fig 1.12 - Click on the LOOK FOR ANOTHER APP ON THIS PC link to browse for a default program
The Open With program requester allows you to open the file you right clicked on with a program of your choice. There are Recommended Programs (such as QuickTime Player and iTunes), a Featured program (such as Groove Music) and there are generic apps that can be seen by clicking on the MORE APPS link (Fig 1.11 above) located towards the bottom of the program requester. Clicking on the LOOK FOR ANOTHER APP ON THIS PC link (Fig 1.12 above) allows you to browse for a default program using the traditional OPEN WITH file requester (below). The key thing to making a program the default program, once browsed for (below), is remembering to tick the option called ALWAYS USE THIS APP TO OPEN...M4A....FILES (above).
Fig 1.13 - Select the program you want to use as a default program for the file Song.m4a
When you have decided which program (in this example DivX Player) you would like to open your file with (in this example the Song.m4a file) select that program and then click on the OPEN button to continue. The new default program (app), in this example DivX Player, will then open and play the file; Song.m4a in this example.
The setting marked ALWAYS USE THIS APP TO OPEN ??? FILES (above), when ticked, means once you have opened a file with a particular program (i.e. opened a .m4a file with DivX Player) that program will always be used to open that kind of file (i.e. DivX Player will always be used to open .m4a files). In other words, that program becomes that file type's default program. If you do want this to happen, perhaps because you want to maintain a file's default program but just this once want to open it with a different program, you should leave this setting unticked.
If you can not find a suitable program to open the file you have right clicked on, even after expanding the view using the MORE APPS link (Fig 1.11 above) and browsing for a program (Fig 1.12 above), you should click on the LOOK FOR AN APP IN THE STORE button (Fig 1.11 above) or search the Internet for a suitable/recommended program.
How do you know what is a suitable program? Answer. Search the internet and so on to find out what each particular file extension is used with. For example: If you search for the .mp3 file extension you will find it is used with audio files whereas the .png file extension is used with graphic files. A file with the .wma file extension, which is used with audio files, can be played with iTunes or Windows Media Player for example. How do I know this? Answer. I check which media players can play a certain type of file extension. Something you should do when checking what each file extension is used with. An excellent place to start is on this File Extensions website.
As an example of the just said: QuickTime Player can not play .wmv files. The .wmv file type is native to Windows Media Player. If you set QuickTime as the default program for -wmv files and then try and open/play a .wmv file with QuickTime Player you will receive the following error message. Hence why I say you should research file types and formats on the Internet first to avoid these types of problem.
Fig 1.14 - QuickTime can not play a native .wmv (Windows Media Audio/Video) file
More than likely you will have an alternative program to view/play .wmv files (such as Windows Media Player) but do not take this for granted. And even if you do have an alternative program you might not always like it performance/quality, which is one of the reasons for using OPEN WITH. Sometimes a Plug-In/Add-On (extension program) is available for a particular program that allows it to then view/play a particular file type/format. Search the Internet for more information (i.e. QuickTime WMV Plug-In).
When you have already used the OPEN WITH program requester, the second time around and thereafter the OPEN WITH sub-memu menu-items display some or all of the other programs you have previously used to open a file, depending on whether or not a program was suitable/installed. For example: A Photo Viewer will not be listed if you want to open an audio file, whereas it might be listed if you want to open a picture file. Obviously, from what has been explained on this website and through your own research, you will know that Notepad for example is not a suitable program for opening a .m4a (Song.m4a) audio file.