SOLVED: Can’t change Windows 10 default apps
Changing the default app to associate with a certain type of media or file extensions should be a walk in a park. However, numerous Windows 10 users have had a hard time replacing the built-in apps with third-party alternatives. It seems that the affected users can’t change Windows 10 default apps whatever they do.
If that’s the case for you, we advise you to check the steps we enlisted below. The complete resolution is in Microsoft’s hands, but these workarounds should get you going for the time being.
What to do when default apps won’t change in Windows 10
- Set them individually from the contextual menu
- Reinstall the app
- Remove and re-set your Microsoft account
- Rollback Windows 10
Solution 1 – Set them individually from the contextual menu
This whole issue seems to be caused by Windows Update. The Anniversary Update had a similar bug and it was (kind of) sorted out with the next update. The same goes for the October Update (version 1809).
The Control Panel approach doesn’t stand anymore, as Microsoft decided to further enforce the Settings menu. If you navigate to Control Panel > Programs > Default programs, you’ll be redirected to Settings and that’s of no use whatsoever.
So, now that we know what we can and can’t do, let’s get back to essentials and try to individually change the associated apps. This might take some time if you have a dozen extensions, but it’s the most reliable way to change default apps on the current build of Windows 10.
Here’s how to do it:
- Navigate to the file extension you want to be run by another app.
- Right-click on the file and choose Open with > Choose another app from the contextual menu.
- Select the default app you want to associate with that file format and check the “Always use this app to open ___ files” box.
- Repeat this for all file extensions.
Solution 2 – Reinstall the app
Some user’s reports state that they can’t even find the third-party application in the list when trying to set it as a default app. Now, even though all installed programs should stay untouched after a major update, things do tend to go wrong.
One fail of this allegedly seamless transition are all those deleted files users complained about after installing the October Update.
With that in mind, just to be sure that everything is fine on your side, we suggest reinstalling that ‘ghost’ application which isn’t shown in the Default apps settings menu.
Here’s how to reinstall a third-party application on Windows 10:
- Search for Control Panel in the Windows Search bar and open it.
- Choose “Uninstall a program” under the Programs section.
- Uninstall a program and, if possible, remove all remaining associated files from the install location.
- Right-click on the installer and run it as admin.
- Install the app and try setting it as the default app again.
Solution 3 – Remove and re-set your Microsoft account
There’s only so much you can do when something as critical as this occurs. Some users were able to resolve the problem on the Anniversary Update by resetting their Microsoft account associated with Windows 10.
We can’t say with certainty whether this will work or not on the machines running the latest iteration of Windows 10. But, it’s still worth a try.
Here’s how to remove and set again your Microsoft Account:
- Press Windows key + I to summon Settings.
- Choose Accounts.
- Select Your info from the left pane.
- Click “Sign in with a local account instead“.
- Remove your active Microsoft account and restart your PC.
- Get back to Settings > Accounts and choose to sign with a Microsoft account.
- Sign in and look for changes.
Solution 4 – Rollback Windows 10
Finally, if none of the solutions helped you and you’re not satisfied with the October Update, we suggest rolling back to the previous version of Windows 10.
That’s your safest bet, as the problem is reportedly related only to a latest Windows 10 iteration. Once you get the April Update again, the problem should be resolved.
Here’s how to rollback Windows 10:
- Open Settings.
- Choose Update & Security.
- Select Recovery from the left pane.
- Click on the “Get started” button under the Go back to the previous version of Windows 10.
And on that note, we can wrap it up. In case you have any questions or similar issues to report, feel free to share them with us and other readers. The comments section is just below.
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