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How to Choose the Default Program for a File

Pamela from Florida asks:

Everything I try to click on ask me what program do I want to use with it – like my web cam built in on my laptop. How do I keep this from happening?

When you double-click on a file, your computer will typically already knows which application to ‘run’ that file with. This is determined by the file type of any given file. For example, word documents can commonly end in the file extension ‘.doc.’ On most computers, when these files are double-clicked on, they will be automatically opened with a word processor, such as Microsoft Word, Open Office or iWork. This is because your computer is programmed to have a default program selected for common file types.

Although computers typically come with the proper software capable of opening common file types, you will undoubtedly run into a file type that your computer does not know how to open – or rather that it does not know which program to use to open the file type in question. This commonly occurs with uncommon file types that your computer has never dealt with before, but it can also happen if the default program for a specific file type has been removed. Regardless of what happened, there are easy steps you can take to avoid having to manually choose the program that you wish to use for the same file type each and every time you open a file.

Start by right-clicking on the file that you wish to choose the default program for. From the revealed menu, hover your mouse over “open with” and select “choose default program…”

A window will pop up asking you to select the default program. All major operating systems will give you recommended programs to choose from. From here, you can simply double-click on the correct application. If your desired program is not in the list of recommended programs, you will need to hit the “browse” button and search for the program manually.

NOTE: Make sure that the checkbox, “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file” is checked.

Because most applications are found in the “programs” folder, it’s best to start your search there. Go to “My Computer,” followed by “C://” and open the “programs” folder. From there, you’ll be able to select your desired program. If you are still unable to find the desired application, it’s best to use the search function (circled in the photo below; varies by operating system) to find the program on your computer.

There you have it. Every time you open a file with that particular file extension, it will automatically open it using the program you have chosen as the default program. If you simply cannot find a program that will open your file, you may need to search for a downloadable program from the Web, or purchase a program that will support that file type.

Good luck!

~ Chad Stetson