The Easy Way to Set Your Default Apps in Windows 8.1

defaultsThe PC Settings panel in Windows 8.1 has been expanded to include even more configuration options. One of them is the possibility to change the default apps used by Windows 8.1 to perform different activities (like browsing the web or playing video), to open different file types and protocols. Personally, I like this new way of setting defaults better than using the old Control Panel. Here's how it works:

How to Find the Default Apps Settings in PC Settings

First, you need to open PC Settings. If you don't know how, this guide will help: Six Ways to Access PC Settings.

Then, click or tap Search and apps.

Windows 8.1, apps, defaults, file extensions, protocols, programs

Here you will find several sub-sections. The one that's relevant for setting default apps is named Defaults. Click or tap this sub-section.

Windows 8.1, apps, defaults, file extensions, protocols, programs

How to Set the Default Apps in Windows 8.1

On the right, you'll see a list with categories of apps and the default for each category.

Windows 8.1, apps, defaults, file extensions, protocols, programs

Here you can set the default web browser, email, music player, video player, photo viewer, calendar and maps app.

If a category has no default, you will see a + sign followed by "Choose a default".

Windows 8.1, apps, defaults, file extensions, protocols, programs

Click or tap on the current default to change it or on Choose a default. A list is displayed with possible options. This list is different from category to category and from PC to PC. It displays all the apps that are available on your PC or device, that can be set as defaults for that category.

Windows 8.1, apps, defaults, file extensions, protocols, programs

If no apps are available, you are given the option to look for an app in the Store.

How to Change the Default Apps Used for Each File Type

At the end of the "Choose Default Apps" list, you will find two links.

Windows 8.1, apps, defaults, file extensions, protocols, programs

The first link says "Choose default apps by file type". Click or tap on it and you will see a list with all the file types known to Windows 8.1 and the default app for each. This default app can be both a desktop application or a modern app from the Windows Store.

Windows 8.1, apps, defaults, file extensions, protocols, programs

Many file types (file extensions) won't have a default app set. To set a default app for a specific file extension click or tap the existing default or "Choose a default". A list is displayed with the apps you can choose from.

Windows 8.1, apps, defaults, file extensions, protocols, programs

Then, click or tap the new app you want as the default for opening files of that type.

For some file types, if you click or tap "Choose a default", you won't find a default app being proposed. That's ok if you are not working with that specific file type.

Windows 8.1, apps, defaults, file extensions, protocols, programs

But, if you need to work with files of that type, then you should search for apps or desktop applications that work with it.

How to Change the Default Apps Used for Each Protocol

The second link on the bottom says "Choose default apps by protocol". If you click or tap on it, you will see a list with all the protocols known to Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.1, apps, defaults, file extensions, protocols, programs

For each protocol, you can set the default app by clicking or tapping the existing default or Choose a default. Then, select the app you want as your default.

Windows 8.1, apps, defaults, file extensions, protocols, programs

Conclusion

Personally, I very much enjoy the process for setting default apps in PC Settings. It is simple and fast for both tablet and PC users. If you have any questions on this subject, don't hesitate to share them using the comments form below.