Pick Default Programs for Files on your Surface

Pick Default Programs for Files on your Surface
– VIDEO in Post –

Today, I’m going to cover how to pick default programs on your Surface tablet.

A default program (or default app) is the program that Windows uses by default when you open a particular type of file, such as movie, picture, or webpage.

For example, you might have more than one web browser installed on your Surface Pro. You can choose one of them to be the default app that starts whenever you open a webpage.

The same goes for things like photo files. Let’s say that you want jpg files to open in the Modern Photos app but bmp files to open in MS Paint so you can easily edit them. Well, you can do that by setting different default programs for each type of file.

Makes sense, right?

Well, let’s get started…

Pick Default Programs for Files on your Surface: Basic Options

First thing you will need to do is get to the Default Programs settings page. To do so, just follow these instructions:

  • Bring up the Charms Menu
  • Select Settings
  • Select Change PC Settings
  • Choose Search and apps
  • Select Defaults

Once there, you’ll see this screen:

From here, you can chose the default apps to use for the following:

  • Web Browser
  • Email
  • Music Player
  • Video Player
  • Photo Viewer
  • Calendar
  • Maps

In the screenshot below, I’m choosing the Metro Music program for my Music app because I didn’t have a default set.

And here you can see that it’s now set.

Easy huh?

Pick Default Programs for Files on your Surface: Advanced Options (By File Type)

Now let’s look at something a little more advanced. What if you want to change the default app for a specific file type that isn’t one of the basics listed above?

For example, let’s say you installed Photoshop to do some photo editing but you want to keep using MS Paint to edit .BMP files. Well, all you need to do is choose the Choose default apps by file type link at the bottom then find the file type for which you want to change the default program.

If there is no app installed that can handle the file type, you’ll get this popup:

Then you can click on it to conveniently find an appropriate app in the Windows store.

Pick Default Programs for Files on your Surface: Advanced Options (By Protocol)

You probably noticed the Choose default apps by protocol link below the Choose default programs by file type link. That is an advanced setting that you would use to set option by the protocol as opposed to the file extension. In general, I wouldn’t recommend playing with this unless you know what you’re doing.

The one exception to that would be the OneNote protocols. That’s because some folks have installed Office 2013 or Office 365 which comes with a desktop version of OneNote and they might want to set the default back to the Modern version (or vice versa)

Pick Default Programs for Files on your Surface: Video Instructions & Info-Graphic

I also made video instructions and a handy printable (legal-size 11×17) infographic for how to set the default programs on your Surface tablet.

I hope you found this post interesting and, more importantly, helpful. If you have any questions please post them below so I (or Joanna, or one of our other readers) can help.


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