How to Change File Associations in Windows 7, 8, 10

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File associations play an essential role in the smooth functioning of an Operating System, and Windows has no exception. This simply means that the OS should learn about the apps it can use to open a particular type of file. 

For instance, PDF files should be assigned to a PDF viewer only. You cannot open it using Notepad or other apps. Similarly, you should not even try to open important ones like DLL files using Notepad or Word. Though many of these things are intuitive, your PC may get one or two things wrong.

In these instances, however, you should know how to change file associations in Windows 7, 8, and 10. Here, we have covered a few methods you can follow to change file associations in Windows. Before that, can we talk about why you’d want to change these associations in the first place?

Why Change File Associations in Windows?



As we mentioned earlier, certain files can be opened using specific applications only. For instance, if we take DLL files, you cannot open these files using regular Windows software. These are to be called by software — as a part of functioning. 

So, if you try to open DLL files using the wrong program, you may end up corrupting the DLL file itself. And, a corrupt/faulty DLL file then require you to download the correct DLL file and make things right. While this is an easy task, you can still avoid the process by taking some level of precaution while handling files on Windows.

This is the case of DLL files alone. As we move to other file formats and types, you may encounter a variety of issues. So, you should always ensure that Windows opens your files using the correct apps only. And you can do this via multiple methods.

How to Change File Associations in Windows 7 and 10?

You can follow the steps we have covered below to change file associations in Microsoft Windows 7.

  1. You have to click on the Start button and search for Default Programs
  1. In the upcoming window, you can see many options. You have to choose ‘Set your Default programs.’
  1. Soon, you should see the list of apps that you have installed on your PC.
  1. Choose the app that you want to modify the file associations of. Then, click on the ‘Choose defaults for this program’ button to proceed.
  1. In the upcoming window, you’ll be able to select the file types that you want to open using the app that you have chosen.

This way, you can bring things back to normal — or as per your needs.

By the way, you can find some third-party apps that claim to help you change file associations in Windows. Those third-party apps may work after all, but we recommend staying with the official methods for the time being. This will help you in protecting your device from further damage, such as downloading a dangerous app or file from the web.

How to Change File Associations in Windows 10?

The process of changing file associations is easier on Windows 10. You can use the Settings app for this. The steps are as follows.

  1. Open Settings from searching on the Start menu.
  1. From the upcoming menu, choose Apps.
  2. In the menu that appears next, you can choose Default apps from the sidebar.
  1. Scroll down and choose the option named ‘Choose default option by file type.’
  1. In the next screen, you can see a table of both file types and assigned applications.
  1. You can click on the app shown against the corresponding file type and change it according to your needs. 

As you can see, there is even an option to find a suitable application from the Microsoft store. So, the next time you come across a file type that you don’t know, you do not have to associate it with Notepad or Word. Instead, use this interface to make things correct.

The Bottom Line

We hope you understand the simple process behind changing the file associations in Windows. We’ve tried to include only the most effective methods. Since we stick to the methods recommended by Windows, you lose the risk of corrupting the registry or essential files.

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Marie Foster
Marie Foster is a reporter based in UK. Marie has also worked as a columnist for the various news sites.

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