Windows 7 provides an easy way for you to select which programs it uses by default for which file types. It’s much more flexible in this regard than the selectors in earlier versions of Windows.
To get to this dialog box, start with the Control Panel. Then, assuing you’re viewing the Control Panel by Categories and not by Icons, click on the header Programs. Within the resulting dialog box, click on Default Programs.
You’ll see the following dialog box:
The four main options here are mostly related, although Change AutoPlay Settings is a little different.
The second option "Associate a file type or protocol with a program" is a function that was only available via Windows Explorer (via the Tools menu) in earlier versions of Windows. It is also available via Windows Explorer in Windows 7, too. It gives you a list of file extensions (e.g., .jpg) and let’s you pick which program will open that type of file by default, if you double-click the file or right-click and select Open.
The third option is "Change AutoPlay Settings," which will allow you to configure Windows 7 for automatic actions when you insert CD’s or DVD’s or connect a smart phone. Do you want Windows to open Windows Explorer? Do you want it to automatically run an AutoPlay program? Do you want it to do nothing?
The fourth option is a very limited version of the first option, with a more simplistic display.
The first option is shown below.
The "Set your default programs" option gives you one dialog box in which you can select a program and make it the default for all file types that it registered with Windows. Use this with care, as it can change settings that enable other programs to run properly.
For example, I use Fort&eacut; Agent as my Usenet newsreader (I use GigaNews as my Usenet news provider). Agent can recognize and handle outgoing email, as well as news. If I were to use the Set this program as default option, it would grab the Mailto and SendMail email functions that Thunderbird now controls. If I click on a mailto link in a web browser, it opens Thunderbird so I can send an email to the person specified in the link. I don’t want to break that.
The second choice in the same dialog box "Set associations for a program," allows you more fine control over which extensions default to this program.
This is a nice place to actually see which file types and which functions are handled by which program.
Unfortunately, this Set Your Default Programs dialog box lists only a limited number of the programs that are actually on my computer. It does not provide any way to add a program to the list.