ASSOCIATE  PROTOCOLS  /  FILE TYPES  WITH  A  PROGRAM

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 ASSOCIATE A FILE TYPE OR PROTOCOL WITH A PROGRAM which allows you to associate/use one or more protocols and/or file types with a program.


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).

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 1.0 - Click on the DEFAULT PROGRAMS link to continue

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 1.1 - The Default Programs window - Click on the ASSOCIATE A FILE TYPE OR PROTOCOL WITH A PROGRAM link.

When the Default Programs window appears click on the ASSOCIATE A FILE TYPE OR PROTOCOL WITH A PROGRAM link. The Set Associations window will then appear but first has to compile (load) a list of eligible protocols and file types (Fig 1.2). When the list has been compiled/loaded (Fig 1.3) you can then select a protocol or file type from that list in order to change the default program for that protocol or file type.

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 1.2 - The Set Associations window is compiling (loading) a list of eligible protocols and file types

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 1.3 - The list of eligible protocols and file types have been compiled (loaded) and are now ready to be selected

With the list of eligible protocols and file types compiled (loaded) scroll through the list to see what default program is associated/used with a particular protocol or file type. When you have gone over the list select the protocol or file type whose default program you want to change. For example: Scroll down the list until you see the .mp3 file type, select it and then click on the CHANGE PROGRAM button (Fig 1.3 above). This will bring up the OPEN WITH program requester (Fig 1.4 below). From there select the default program you wish to associate/use with the selected (.mp3) file type and then click on the OK button to continue. In this example I have selected iTunes as the default program I wish to associate/use with the .mp3 file type.

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 1.4 - Select a default program for this (.mp3) file type and then click on OK to continue

After clicking on the OK button you will be sent back to the Set Associations window (below). The protocol or file type you selected will then be relisted with its new default program association. In this example the .mp3 file type is now associated with the default program iTunes and no longer with Windows Media Player.

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 1.5 - Click on CLOSE when you have finished changing (associating) your default programs

When you have finished associating default programs with protocols and/or file types click on the CLOSE button to return to the Default Programs window.


If you can not find the program you are looking for when the OPEN WITH program requester appears (Fig 1.4 above), to use as a default program, scroll down to the bottom of the requester and click on its MORE APPS link. This will refresh the apps list with more apps (programs) to choose from.

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 1.6 - Click on MORE APPS link at the bottom of the requester to expand the apps list

If you still can not find a suitable program (app) to use as a default program, scroll down to the bottom of the refreshed apps list and then click on the link called LOOK FOR ANOTHER APP ON THIS PC. This will bring up the traditional OPEN WITH file requester (Fig 1.8) where you can then browse for a program (app) on your computer. It starts in the PROGRAM FILES folder by default, which is the folder where most programs/apps are installed to (hence its name PROGRAM FILES), but you can navigate it to a different folder in order to find an alternative default program/app for your selected protocol or file type.

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 1.7 - Click on the LOOK FOR ANOTHER APP ON THIS PC link at the bottom of the requester

In the example below I have navigated the OPEN WITH file requester to the DivX Player folder, located within the old 32 bit Program Files (x86) folder, and selected the executable file called DivX Player.exe. By then clicking on the OPEN button of the OPEN WITH file requester I will be making the DivX Player program the default program for the .wmv file type (Fig 1.9).

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 1.8 - Navigate the OPEN WITH file requester to an alternative default program

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 1.9 - The default program for playing .wmv files is now DivX Player and not Windows Media Player

The above has concentrated on changing the default program (i.e. Windows Media Player) associated with a particular type of file (i.e. Audio/Video) and more precisely the changing of the default program associated with a particular file extension (i.e. .mp3 and .wmv). In other words: Files with the file name extension of .wmv for example used to be associated with and therefore opened with Windows Media Player, but are now associated with and therefore open with the new default program called DivX Player. Put another way: The default program used to play .wmv files is now DivX Player.

If you want to change the default program for a protocol, as opposed to a file type and its file name extension, you can do so by scrolling down towards the bottom of the Set Associations window. From there you could change the FTP protocol (used for file transfers (uploads/downloads) between computer and website), the CallTo: protocol (used on a website to bring up the Skype messenger, and other messengers) or the MailTo: protocol (used on a website to bring up the default e-mail program). Those are just three examples. In other words: You could change the MailTo: protocol to use Windows Live Mail, Windows 10 MAIL App, Mozilla Thunderbird or Outlook 2016 for example.

Windows 10 Control Panel

Fig 1.10 - You can also change the default program used by a certain protocol

Do not get confused by the three Default Programs control panels. If a music program is associated with the .mp3 file type for example it does not mean that music program is the default music program for all music file types. It could just be the default music program for the .mp3 file type. And even if you specifically set that music program to be the default music program, with the Set Program Access And Computer Defaults control panel, that music program still might not have all of its associations set due to another program currently owning those associations. Windows Media Player is an example of this. By setting DivX Player to be the default program for the .wmv file type (above) setting Windows Media Player afterwards as the default media program, using the Set Program Access And Computer Defaults control panel, does not make Windows Media Player the default (associated) program for the .wmv file type.

Basically. You should use the Set Program Access And Computer Defaults control panel to set up your default Web Browser, E-Mail Client and Media Player first and then use the Set Default Programs control panel to select further protocols and/or file types for each of those default programs. If you then want another, unlisted, program to be the default (associated) program for one or more protocols and/or file types you should then use the Associate A File Type Or Protocol With A Program control panel.