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How To Change the Default Program for a Specific File Extension in Windows XP


Change the Default Program in Windows XP

Default Program Options in Windows XP

Knowing how to change the default program that runs when you open a particular type of file can really come in handy, especially for very common file types like many video, graphics, and audio file types.

Windows XP opens only one program for a particular file extension so if, for example, you like your JPEG files to open with Photoshop and not Windows Paint, then changing the default program for JPEG files is exactly what you need to do.

Follow these very easy steps for changing the program that starts when you open a particular kind of file.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Changing the default program for a file extension in Windows XP usually takes less than 5 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Click on Start, then All Programs, then Accessories, and finally Windows Explorer.

    Note: Any folder window in Windows XP will do just fine. For example, if you preferMy Computer, that will work just fine.

  2. Click on the Tools menu option and then choose Folder Options....

  3. In the Folder Options window, click on the File Types tab.

  4. Under Registered file types:, scroll down until you see the file extension you want to change the default program for.

  5. Click on the file extension to highlight it, once you've found the one you're looking for.

  6. Click the Change... button in the Details for the '[file extension]' extension area near the bottom of the window.

    The Open With dialog box should appear.

  7. Scroll through the options in the Programs area and choose the application that you want to open the file extension with when you double-click on the particular kind of file on your computer.

    Note: Chances are, the applications listed under Recommended Programs will contain the most applicable programs for this file type but be sure to look at the applications under Other Programs as well.

    Note: Click  Browse... to search through your computer for any program not listed that you'd like to use.

  8. Click the OK button on the Open With window.

  9. Click the Close button at the bottom of the Folder Options window.

  10. From this point forward, when you double-click on any file with this particular file extension, the program you chose in Step 7 will launch and load the particular file.

    Important: Whatever program used to automatically open when these types of files were launched will still open these types of files. To use another program, you'll just need to start the program manually and then browse your computer, from within the program, for the particular file.


  1. Not a Windows XP user? See how to change the default program for file types in other Windows operating systems.
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