I’ve done it. I’m sure you have, too.
We’ve all installed a program that arbitrarily grabbed certain file extensions (such as .doc, .jpg, .mp3) and changed Windows’ settings. Now, the new program is the default for opening that file type.
Sometimes, it’s our fault — many programs that can handle multiple file types will give us an option during the program’s installation. We’ll get the chance to select (or deselect) which program types will default to the new program. If we pick wrong, or decide later that this wasn’t really what we wanted to do, it seems like we’re stuck with the new program.
Fortunately, Windows has a couple easy ways for us to change the default program that is opened when you double-click on a file or an attachment.
For this example, let’s assume that we installed the graphics program Irfanview, which gives us the option to make it the default for a lot of different types of images. Without thinking, and forgetting that we really like Windows XP’s Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, we set IrfanView to be the default for JPG images.
First, let’s look at the easiest way to solve the problem…
Open Windows Explorer, the Windows file management program, and find one of the files that you want to open with a different program.
Next, right-click on the file. In the image below, I’ve right-clicked on the .jpg image file.
The popup Context Menu has the option we need — it’s "Open With…"
In the fly-out section of the Context Menu, we will see various programs that the Windows installation on our computer thinks may be appropriate. If the program we want is not listed, we can use the Choose Programs… option to browse the computer and select the program.
But, wait, we want to open the program in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer and we see it listed — so we click on it. The image opens in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. All is right with the world, right? Not quite…
There’s only one problem with this approach — we have to do it each time for each image we want to view. By selecting the program in this manner, we do not change the default.
In order to change the default, we need to pick the Choose Program… option. When we do, we will get a helpful dialog box that shows those options and more.
Now, we can pick Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, or any of the others or even browse to find another program, and we can put a checkmark in the box that says "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file "