I will continue our series on customizing default programs with a tutorial about how to set defaults for certain activities like: web browsing, e-mail access, media player or instant messaging. This can be done from the 'Set Program Access and Computer Defaults' panel. In this tutorial I will show you where to find this panel and how to use it to set your defaults.
Note: You have to be logged in as administrator to work with 'Set program access and computer defaults' panel.
Where to Find Set Program Access and Computer Defaults Panel
There are different ways of finding the 'Set Program Access and Computer Defaults' panel. The first one is to go to 'Control Panel -> Programs -> Default Programs -> Set Program Access and Computer Defaults'.
Another option is to type default in the Start Menu search box, choose Default programs and then 'Set program access and computer defaults'.
Working with the Set Program Access and Computer Defaults Panel
In the 'Set Program Access and Computer Defaults' window, you have three configurations available: Microsoft Windows, Non-Microsoft and Custom. To see the options available for each category, click on the small arrows in the right side.
NOTE: Some computers might have an additional 4th configuration available: Computer Manufacturer. This will restore your settings to those selected by the manufacturer of your computer. This category is available only if the computer manufacturer installed this version of Windows on your computer and established settings for this feature.
The first category is Microsoft Windows. This sets as defaults only programs created by Microsoft, which are either shipped with Windows 7 (as Internet Explorer or Windows Media Player) or installed separately (such as Microsoft Office Outlook). In this section, the options related to the programs used for browsing the internet, sending e-mail, media player and instant messenger are predefined and cannot be changed. This configuration is recommended for those of you that want to revert to Windows 7 defaults or those who love the Microsoft programs which can be used for these activities. To use the Microsoft Windows defaults, just click the check-box near the section name.
The Non-Microsoft section has, for each activity, a non-Microsoft program enabled and set as default. This option removes access to Microsoft applications. If, for example, you have Internet Explorer and Google Chrome installed as web browsers, Google Chrome will be allowed access and Internet Explorer will have its access removed. Enabling access means that you allow Windows 7 to have complete access to that specific program, without any restrictions.
This means that shortcuts of Internet Explorer from your Taskbar, Desktop and Start Menu will be removed. Also, if you search for Internet Explorer in the Start Menu search box, you will not get a link to this application. But you can still use the program, if you run its executable.
With this configuration, you have to choose your default program for each activity by clicking the corresponding drop-down box, where you will see all the available options. If you don't have any other programs than those provided by Microsoft, the drop-down box will not appear.
The third category, called Custom, allows you to manually configure each default program and whether you enable access to the program or not. The Custom configuration is always selected by default. Here you can find all options offered by the other configurations, allowing you to customize your default actions as you like.
Note: Removing access to different programs might require uninstalling those programs, as it is the case for Microsoft Office Outlook.
What to Do If a Program Doesn't Appear In The List Of Selections
You might notice that not all of your programs for specific activities appear in the list of programs. This is because not all programs are registered and can be set as default programs using Set program access and computer defaults. If this is the case, you will need to find other solutions: you can set your default programs in Windows 7 or associate a file type or protocol to a program, as we've shown in our previous tutorials.
As you can see from this article, the Set Programs Access and Computer Defaults panel offers a pretty basic way of managing defaults for a set of common computing activities such as e-mail, internet browsing or playing media. While it does what it is advertised for this small set of activities, if you need more you better look elsewhere. You can find more info on the topic in our list of related articles. So don't hesitate to browse through it.