Why are my files opening in the wrong apps?

February 13, 2018 |

greater than 5 minutes

Microsoft offered an upgrade to Windows 10 free to users already running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, but in reality, this upgrade came at a cost. This cost is actually layered over the Windows 10 operating system because some users certainly end up purchasing some Microsoft applications or paying for cloud services. It is difficult to label this a bad deal though.

On Windows 8 or 10 there are applications designed by Microsoft for almost every basic task. Most of these applications were preinstalled while others could be installed by simply launching their installers or purchasing them directly from the Windows store. These applications include Windows video player for playing video and audio files, Windows Camera for shooting and viewing photos, Internet Explorer for browsing the internet and so on. While some of these preinstalled applications are essential and some very good, problems may arise when you install a new software to perform a task that can also be executed by a preinstalled application.

The preinstalled applications, by virtue of being there first, are usually the default applications for opening a host of file types. Microsoft installed them after all. You might be used to playing video files on a VLC media player (a free 3rd party software actually) on your previous operating system, but clicking on a media file in a freshly installed Windows 8 or 10 system would cause Windows Media Player to open. Simply downloading and installing VLC media player would not solve this issue.

The story is similar for users more familiar with Adobe Acrobat for handling PDF files. Adobe reader would not open after you double click on saved PDF files. Microsoft reader application would be opened instead because it is the handler of such requests by default. The definition of these requests are usually broad or quite extensive- even freshly created PDF files would still end up being viewed by Microsoft reader by default.

Google Chrome might dominate desktop browsing (and even all form of browsing) by the large volume of users who prefer using it, but that did not stop Microsoft from making Internet Explorer or Edge the default browsers. I could go on about other applications, but my point is now certainly beyond obvious. The default applications for opening some files or executing some tasks are not usually the ones you prefer, and simply reinstalling your preferred apps might not solve this problem.

Fixing this problem

  1.    Opening a file in application:

These steps describe how to open a file in another program:

  • Locate the file and right click on it
  • Select Open with and choose your preferred application
  1. Changing the default application for specific file types:

This fix explains how to set default programs and file types. First, download your preferred application and ensure it has been properly installed. Now do the following:

  • Press the Windows key or click on the start button
  • Search for Default programs in the available search box
  • Click on the program to launch it
  • Scroll down and click on Choose Default Apps by file link and you will be presented with a list of several file types and the programs currently set as default for opening them
  • Scroll down or locate the file type for which you intend to change the default program
  • Click on the icon for the current default program and you will be presented with a menu of available applications on your system that can open that file type.
  • Now select your preferred application.

If the program you want to set as the default application for a particular file-type was absent on the list, scroll down and click on the link to search for a new app in the Windows store.

Regardless, there is always the possibility that your preferred program for some specific file types was missing from the list and you still could not find them from the Windows store. Taking into account such a possibility, we now proffer an alternative method that also explains how to change file associations in Windows 10. This method involves the use of Control Panel. Do this:

  • Press the Windows key or click on the start button
  • Type Run in the available search box and press enter to launch the Run app
  • Copy and paste this code control /name Microsoft.DefaultPrograms /page pageFileAssoc into the available box in the Run app and press the Enter key
  • After being presented with the Set Associations window (which lets you choose default apps based on a specific file type or extension), scroll down and locate the file extension you intend changing.
  • Select the program and click on the Change Program button. You will then be presented with a list of programs that can open the file type. Choose your preferred program or continue reading
  • If your preferred program was again absent on this list, scroll down and click on the More Apps link
  • If your preferred program is still missing on this list, click on look for another app on this PC and you will now be allowed to locate the .exe file of your preferred program
  • After locating it, select it and click on Open to make it the new default application.
  1.    Editing your registry:

This is the required solution if for some strange reason your apps stopped opening in the desired preferred application long after you changed the default application. The issue with this fix is that modifying the registry is a dangerous act, especially considering the serious problems that could occur if you make incorrect changes. This is why we recommend the use of an excellent registry cleaner to detect and fix common errors or problems associated with the registry. These errors or problems might be responsible for the change in default app. Download, run Auslogics Registry Cleaner now and see if your issue has been resolved.

If you still wish to edit your registry regardless, create a backup (in case things go wrong) and do the following:

  • Press the Windows key or click on the start button
  • Type Regedit, right-click on the result presented and select run as administrator to launch the Registry Editor
  • Click on HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.exe to expand it
  • Double click on Default and change its value to exefile
  • Now navigate to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\exefile\shell\open\command
  • Here change the value of the Default key to “%1” %*
  • Now close Registry Editor and restart your PC to verify if your problems were solved.
  1.    System restore or reset:

I know this option might appear extreme to those who understand its great ability to solve a myriad of complex problems, but I am leaving it here as a last resort for that same reason.

This fix involves taking your PC back in time or simply say a period in which your current problem did not exist. As expected, this would cause loss of files or valuable data, so a backup is necessary. However, we always intend for users to solve their problems through easy fixes or in the least intrusive way as possible. Auslogics BoostSpeed is an awesome app that possesses several exceptional tools that might just diagnose and solve your current problem and even resolve other complicated issues. It is simply a necessary program for every PC.

Regardless, this guide is easy enough to use if you intend solving your problems using the last resort. If you prefer a more comprehensive guide with similar options, check out this one from Microsoft’s support page.


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