How do I set default apps in Windows 11?

Windows 11 uses file associations to determine what app opens a file type by default. For example, when you double-click a .PNG file in Windows 11, Microsoft Photos automatically opens the file. That's because Windows 11 associates PNG files with Microsoft Photos.

If you want a file type to open in a different default app, you can change its file association. For example, you can associate PNG files with Microsoft Paint, so PNG files instead open in Paint.

There are two primary ways to change file associations in Windows 11: 1) In Windows 11 Settings and 2) by right-clicking an individual file.

Change a file association in Windows 11 Settings

If you are comfortable navigating Windows 11 Settings, the best way to change a file association is to:

  1. Open the Start menu and select Settings.
  2. From the left sidebar menu, select Apps. Then, select Default apps. Default apps button in Windows 11 settings
  3. Scroll down and, in Related settings, select Choose defaults by file type. Choose defaults by file type button in Windows 11 settings
  4. In the search box that appears, enter the file type whose file association you want to change.
  5. Click the button that appears under the file type's name. (The button shows the file type's current default app.) Windows 11 change default app
  6. In the menu that appears, select your new default app. Then, select OK. Default app selection menu

After you select OK, the new default app you chose will appear in the button beneath your file type. Now, when you double-click a file of that type, it will open in that app.

Change a file association while opening a file

If you want to avoid the Windows 11 settings menu, you can change a file type's file association while opening a file of that type. To do so:

  1. Right-click a file of the type whose association you want to change. Then, select Open with → Choose another app. Right-click menu in File Explorer
  2. Select the app with which you want to open this file type.
  3. Select the Always use this app to open .ext files checkbox. Open with app selection menu
    You must select the Always use this app to open .ext files checkbox to permanently change a file type's file association. If you do not select the checkbox, the file type will open in the app you selected only this once.
  4. Select OK.

After you select OK, your file will open in the new default app you selected, and its icon will change to that app's icon.