In my introduction to Windows 8 post, I mentioned how there are basically two different interfaces now available. One is the standard desktop-style interface that we’ve been using forever. The other is the touchscreen Metro-style interface, with all the tiles for various apps on the home screen.
Well, Microsoft’s intent with this operating system is to try to convert people to Metro over time. And one of the things they’ve done is include a lot of Microsoft-developed Metro apps that are similar to other third-party apps that either come pre-installed or that you install yourself. And because they’re so pro-Metro, they’ve made those the default apps for specific file types.
The best example for me is Microsoft’s Reader app for reading PDF files. Now, one of the first things I install on any new computer is Adobe Acrobat. I’m a power PDF user and I want to use Acrobat for reading them. And even if I didn’t, I would still prefer to use Adobe’s free Reader program than Microsoft’s, if for no other reason than I’m much more familiar with it. (Adobe Reader is one of the third-party apps that did come pre-installed on my computer.)
Now, since I’m usually working in Desktop mode, I can just open Acrobat and then browse for the PDF file I want to read/work on. But there are instances where I do it in reverse; double-click on a PDF file to open it. I can do this when I’m exploring the files on my computer or when I get a PDF attachment in an email.
The problem is that when I do that, it opens Microsoft’s Reader app, not Acrobat. (The app will also open automatically when I create a PDF file from another program, like Word.)
Ugh. So here’s what you do to change what program opens by default for any given file type.
Open the Control Panel.
If you’ve upgraded to Windows 8.1, you can just right-click on the Start button and pick Control Panel from there. If you haven’t yet upgraded and so you don’t have a Start button, you can also open the Control Panel by going to the Metro screen (press the Windows key) and just start typing “Control Panel.” (Your cursor doesn’t have to be anywhere in particular; as soon as you start typing, a search box will appear.)
Click Make a File Type Always Open in a Specific Program.
It will take a few seconds, but then a screen will appear listing all the different file types and their associated programs.
Scroll down and select the file type that you want to change the program for, then click the Change Program button.
A list of applications that can open that file type will appear. If the one you want isn’t on the list, click More Options.
Select the program to use for this file type.
The list of file types will refresh and you’ll see the new program associated with the one you just changed. You can then close the window.
Now, when I double-click on the PDF file in my email, Adobe Acrobat automatically launches instead of Microsoft Reader.
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