How to change file type associations in Windows 7

October 26, 2009

Windows 7 logo Associating different programs with certain file types makes those files easy to open or listen to.  For instance, associating Microsoft Word with .doc files allows you to quickly open word files when you download them.  Other files can be associated with a variety of different programs.  Gif files, a type of picture file, can be opened by many different programs like Internet Explorer, Paint, Windows Media Player, Picasa and other photo/picture viewers.  What happens if your pictures or music don’t open in your preferred program? When that happens you need to change the file type association.

The first way of doing this in Windows 7 is to click on Start.

Start button

In the right hand menu click on default programs.

Start menu

Once that opens click on Associate a file type or or protocol with a program.

Associate a file type or protocol with a program

That will open a list of file extensions such as .gif.  Double click on the extension of the file type you want to change.

Original program associated with file type

A window will open giving you a choice of programs to choose from.

Program list for file type

If your program is not on the list, look below it and click on the browse button.  Scroll through additional programs and click on the one that you want to associate with your file type.

Browse for more programs 1

Another way of accomplishing this when you know the program you want to use but you don’t know the extensions of the file types you want to associate it with is to follow the first two steps above.   After you’ve clicked on default programs then click on Set default programs.

Set your default programs

When the list of programs opens, choose the program you want to use.

Set your default programs list

For example, you want to use iTunes instead of Windows Media Player for your music.  Choose iTunes from the list.

iTunes program default

You then can choose between Set this program as default for all music file types that can be associated with the program

Set this program as default

or Choose defaults for this program.

Choose defaults for this program

If you choose the latter, you can specifically choose what music file types you want to play  in iTunes and leave the other music file types associated with Windows Media Player.

File extensions to be associated with iTunes

These are both easy ways to change file type associations in Windows 7.  The next time your music or photos are opening in the wrong program, try one of the above methods of associating the right program with your music or photos.

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11 Responses to “How to change file type associations in Windows 7”

  1. gary:

    you can also right click on a file and select open with.

  2. jack:

    Yes but stupid microsoft do not allow you to change
    the “edit” option on the right click context menu.

    Any other features they want to remove for the next version ?

    How about hiding all the filenames and we have to run a wizard every time so we can find out the file name ?

  3. velson:

    You can change file associations, you cannot add switches (default actions) to them though…

    Sad :(

  4. Joy:

    Last resort: edit the registry!

    a for open, b for edit

  5. Russell:

    When you change the default, does it effect the quality of the file itself? My ape files were logged as wmp in their file type because I’d played it on windows media player… when I changed the default to VLC, they read as VLC media file (ape). The ‘date modified’ read the same as it was before the change. Is the file itself untouched then?

  6. Russell:

    In reply to my own question :). I’ve discovered that the default setting (and it’s ‘file type’ reading display) has no bearing on the actual files themselves and only refers to which program on your pc can play them. The files are still the untouched original apes. That’s put my main concern to rest.

  7. Juke:

    Any way to associate files for ALL users, not just the current user?
    E.g Instead of .jpeg/.bmp files opening with Adobe Photoshop, have it open with the standard Windows Picture and Fax Viewer.


  8. czlo:

    Windows are getting worse. To XP version there was possibility to exact settings of file types and actions (Open with, Install, Browse with, etc, etc).
    Now they (M$) goes to the sitter – see eg. help system and many others.

  9. Stephen:

    I agree with czlo.

    Used to be able to define MULTIPLE actions for any given type (extension), so you could RUN or OPEN a .bat file, but you could also EDIT that file or browse, whatever…. Now, it seems like there’s a 1:1, wherein you can define ONE program, and it is for the OPEN action. This sucks and is bass-ackwards as far as usability of windows. A definite change for the worse, robbing us of powerful functionality, and apparently NOT providing the functionality in any other location or mechanism. SUCKS SUCKS SUCKS Microsux.

  10. markos:

    @ Stephen and czlo
    You can still use windows xp.

  11. markosisadumbass:

    blow me markos, you stupid moron.

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