Changing the Default Program for a File

by Barry Dysert
(last updated July 11, 2016)

One of the interesting things about Windows is that a file's "type" determines what program is used to open that file. For example, .txt files are, by default, opened with Notepad. If you have Microsoft Office installed, .docx files are opened with Microsoft Word, etc. You may come across an occasion where you want to change what program is used for a particular file type.

Let's say that you have text files with a ".log" extension, and you want to have them open with WordPad. Right-click on a .log file and select "Properties" from the resulting Context menu. Windows displays the Properties dialog box for the file. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Properties dialog box for a .log file.

To designate WordPad as the program that will open .log files, click the Change button. Windows displays the Open With dialog box. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Choosing the program that will open .log files.

Note that I have scrolled the window down to the bottom to find WordPad listed. (If the program you want to use is not listed, click the Browse button to find it.) Now click the "WordPad" item and OK your way back to Windows. From now on (unless it's changed), WordPad will be the program used to open all your .log files.

 This tip (11819) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 30 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer.  He is currently a senior software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. ...

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