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How to Set Defaults Successfully

No, I am not talking about loans, because if I were, this would be called “How to default on loans successfully”. No, I am talking about making sure that when you open a program, it opens the way that you want it to. Every time.

I decided to talk to y’all about this because I just went to open a video and somehow the poltergeist (the one who takes my keys and puts them somewhere other than the place I put them) got into my computer and changed the default program that opens my videos. And of course I had to find out how to change it back. In past operating systems, it was pretty difficult (at least for me) to find out where to change anything to default. Not in Vista, though.

The first thing that you do after you left-click on your Start button, you look over to the right pane of your Start menu that popped up, and you will see Default programs. Left-click on it.

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After you left-click on Default Programs, a box will pop up that offers you everything that you wanted to know about default programs but were afraid to ask. We’re only going to deal with one of the options, which is Set your default programs. Left-click on it.

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After you left-click on Set your default programs, another box pops up. This box has a list of all of the programs that are installed on your computer on the left side that can be configured by Windows for default, and what you can do with them on the right side. The two options that you are given on the right side are:

Set this program as default


Choose the defaults for this program.

Set this program as default.

Since I need to restore VLC media player as my default player, I left-click on VLC Player on the left side (this highlights it) and I left-click on Set this program as default on the right side, and then left-click on OK. This makes the VLC media player the default media program.

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The VLC media player is now the default media player for all media.


This makes VLC media player for just that – all of my media. Audio and video. Well, I don’t want that! I want Windows Media player to be the default player for all Windows Media files. How do I do that?

Choose the defaults for this program.

This statement does exactly what it says it’s going to do. It is going to let you choose what files you want associated with what program. When you left-click on Choose the defaults for this program, a box of file extensions associated with the program that you chose will pop up. In my case, these will be media file extensions since that is the program I am dealing with.

This is the box that popped up for VLC media center after I clicked on Choose the defaults for this program:

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Since I don’t want the VLC media player to be the default player for Windows Media files, all I have to do is to uncheck the boxes to the left of the Windows Media file extensions, right? (In the screenshot above there are two: .wma and .wmv.)


Once again, remember we are dealing with Windows. Things that should be one way usually aren’t. If you can’t uncheck the Windows Media file extensions, how do you get rid of the VLC player being the default player for Windows Media files?

Hang in there.

What Windows wants you to do is to specify each file extension goes with each program by going directly to the program to change the default behavior, not just uncheck it from somewhere else. In this case, we have to go back to get to Windows Media player and go from there; we can’t do it from the VLC media player location.

First, click on Cancel to return to the previous box. When you are at the original box, you are going to go to the program that you want to be associated with certain types of files. In this case, I am going to left-click to choose (and highlight) Windows Media Player. Then left-click on Choose Defaults for this program.

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Now the box of media extensions will pop up again. This time, however, the media extensions that are associated with Windows Media player are the ones checked. Note in the screenshot below that the boxes for the .wma and .wmv files are not checked; they are associated with the VLC player.

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Again, I want Windows Media player to be the default player for these two files. Thus, I check the boxes to the left of them and then left-click on Save. This makes it so that every time a .wma or .wmv file is played, it is automatically played by default by Windows Media player.

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Now, for the heck of it, let’s go back to look at the VLC box to see if it has changed the Windows Media file extensions (.wma and .wmv). What we should see is those boxes cleared of checkmarks.

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Alrighty then! All done. This is what we needed done and what we have accomplished:

Since my settings for the media default player had somehow been changed (it’s a poltergeist, I’m telling you), I needed to change the settings back so that the VLC player was my default player.

1: Start > Default Programs.

2: Left-click on Set your default player.

3: Left-click on the player of your choice (mine was the VLC media player.)

4: Left-click on Set program as default.

Finished. I wanted to change two Windows Media files, however, so that Windows Media player would be the default player for both of them.

To continue from above:

5: Left-click on Cancel to return to the previous box.

6: This time, left-click on Windows Media player (which will highlight it) to choose its default files.

7: Left-click on Choose the defaults for this program.

8: In the box of extensions that pops up, put a checkmark next to the .wma and .wmv extension boxes.

9: Left-click on Save.

And that’s it. Everything is back to being configured to my preferences.

Just a quick bit of information that you may like:

I looked up the file extensions that were in the boxes because I didn’t know what half of them were and I wanted to make sure that the VLC media player was the right player for them.

If you are interested in finding out about an extension, go to http://filext.com [9]. It will have every extension that you ever wanted to know about, and then some. Here’s what you do:

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Happy defaulting!

~ Lori Cline