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Q: How do I change file associations in Windows 10?

A: Windows 10 uses file associations to determine which program will automatically open a specific file type on your computer. For example, Microsoft Photos opens .PNG files by default.

If you prefer to use another program to open PNG files, you can change the file association. You can associate a different program, like Microsoft Paint, with all files that have a ".png" extension. After you update the file association, when you double-click a PNG file, it will open in Paint rather than Photos by default.

In Windows 10, there are two methods you can use to change file associations.

Method 1: Right-click an individual file

To change the file association for a specific file type, right-click a file and select Open With → Choose another app. In the screenshot below, you can see that Microsoft Photos is associated with ".png" files.

Windows 10 Open With Contextual Menu

After you select "Choose another app," the following "How do you want to open this file?" dialog box appears.

Windows 10 How do you want to open this file?

This window allows you to select a default program for the selected file type. Once you have selected a program, check the box next to "Always use this app to open .png files" and click "OK". In the example above, clicking OK would set Paint as the default program for all files with a ".png" extension.

NOTE: To permanently change the file association, make sure to select the option "Always use this app to open .png files". If you do not check this box, the file will open once in the selected program, but the file association will not be changed universally.

Method 2: Use the Settings app

This method allows you to view and modify the full list of file associations available in Windows 10. To access this list, open the Start menu (click the Windows icon) and select Settings.

Windows 10 Start Menu

This will open the Settings app, which allows you to choose settings for Devices, Accounts, Network & Internet, System, and more. Click System, which is the first option shown below.

Windows 10 Settings App

Next, select "Default apps" from the list of System settings and click "Choose default apps by file type", which is near the bottom of the right pane.

Windows 10 System Settings

The Default Apps By File Type window displays all the file types currently on your system. Next to each file type, the default program is listed, followed by a list of other programs that can open the file. To modify the default program that opens PNG images, scroll down to the PNG file type and click the icon of the current default program, as shown below.

Windows 10 Default Apps Window

Select the program you want to set as the default program, such as Paint. The icon of the default app will instantly change to Paint's icon and now all PNG files will automatically open in Paint when you double-click them.

Updated: February 26, 2016