How to Change What Program Opens a File Windows 11: A Step-by-Step Guide

Changing the default program that opens a file in Windows 11 is simple and straightforward. Just right-click the file, select "Open with," choose a new program, and set it as the default. You can also change default apps for specific file types via the Settings app, ensuring your preferred software always opens particular files.

How to Change What Program Opens a File in Windows 11

Changing what program opens a file in Windows 11 ensures your preferred application handles specific file types. Follow these steps for a seamless switch.

Step 1: Right-Click the File

Right-click on the file you want to change the default program for.

When you right-click the file, a context menu will appear, giving you several options related to that file.

Step 2: Select "Open with"

Hover over and click "Open with" from the context menu.

The "Open with" option displays a list of programs that can open your selected file, showing both default and other available applications.

Step 3: Choose "Choose another app"

Click on "Choose another app" from the "Open with" submenu.

This action opens a new window where you can pick from more programs installed on your computer, or even search for another app in the Microsoft Store.

Step 4: Select Your Preferred Program

Pick your preferred program from the list, or browse for another app.

Here, you can decide which program you want to use to open this type of file. If it’s not listed, you can click on "More apps" to find other installed programs.

Step 5: Check "Always use this app to open .[file extension] files"

Check the box that says "Always use this app to open .[file extension] files."

This step ensures that every file of that type will open with your chosen program from now on, making the change permanent until you decide to modify it again.

Step 6: Click "OK"

Finally, click the "OK" button to save your changes.

By clicking "OK," you’re confirming your choice, and Windows 11 will now use your selected program as the default for that file type.

After completing these steps, the chosen program will always open files of that type. You can change it back anytime by repeating the process.

Tips for Changing What Program Opens a File in Windows 11

  • Always double-check the file extension when setting a default program to ensure all similar files open correctly.
  • Use the "More apps" option in the "Open with" window to explore additional programs that can open your file.
  • If your preferred program isn’t listed, browse your computer to locate the application manually.
  • Reset default programs in the Settings app if multiple files have incorrect default programs.
  • Keep your software updated to avoid compatibility issues with file types.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my preferred program isn’t listed?

You can click "More apps" and then select "Look for another app on this PC" to manually locate the program.

Can I change the default program for multiple file types at once?

Yes, you can use the Settings app to change default programs for multiple file types systematically.

How do I reset default programs?

Go to Settings > Apps > Default apps, and use the "Reset" button to restore Microsoft-recommended defaults.

Will changing the default program affect existing files?

No, existing files remain unchanged; only how they open will be different.

Can I use this method to open a file with a new program just once?

Yes, simply do not check the "Always use this app" option when selecting the program.


  1. Right-click the file.
  2. Select "Open with."
  3. Choose "Choose another app."
  4. Select your preferred program.
  5. Check "Always use this app to open .[file extension] files."
  6. Click "OK."


Changing what program opens a file in Windows 11 is a handy way to streamline your workflow and make sure the right tool is always at your fingertips. By following the steps outlined here, you can effortlessly switch default programs and ensure a seamless user experience. Whether you’re dealing with images, documents, or any other file type, having the right application as your default can save you time and reduce frustration.

For further reading or more advanced settings, explore the Settings app under "Apps" and "Default apps." This section offers a comprehensive view and additional customization options for managing file associations across your system.

Now, you’re fully equipped to take control of your file-opening preferences in Windows 11. Happy computing!

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