The easy way to set default apps in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 have a whole new way of setting default apps for things like reading and composing e-mails, playing videos, listening to music, viewing pictures and so on. You no longer have to use the old Control Panel, like you used to in Windows 7. Instead, you can use the new Settings app from Windows 10, or the PC Settings app from Windows 8.1. Here's how to change the default app used for any activity, file type or protocol, in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1:

How to find the default apps settings in Windows 10

If you are a Windows 10 user, you need to open the Settings app. One fast way to do that is to open the Start Menu, and then click or tap the shortcut that looks like a gear, on the left side.

Then, in the Settings app, open the Apps category of settings.

On the left part of the window, click or tap Default apps.

Here you set the default apps for the following categories: Email, Maps, Music player, Photo viewer, Video player and Web browser. As you will see later in this tutorial, you also get links for setting the default apps by file type and protocol.

How to find the default apps settings in Windows 8.1

In Windows 8.1, first, you need to open PC Settings. If you don't know how to do that, this guide will help: Six ways to access PC Settings. If you’re in a hurry, a fast way to open it is to press the Windows + I keys on your keyboard and then click/tap on the Change PC settings shortcut.

Then, click or tap Search and apps.

Here you will find several sub-sections. The one that's relevant for setting default apps is named Defaults. Click or tap on it.

Here you can set the default apps for browsing the web, email, playing music and video, viewing pictures, viewing your calendar and maps.

How to set the default apps in Windows 8.1 & Windows 10

Even though there are more than a few differences between the Settings app from Windows 10 and the PC Settings from Windows 8.1, the process for changing the default apps is the same in both operating systems.

On the right side of the Settings window from Windows 10, or PC Settings screen in Windows 8.1, you'll see a list with categories of apps and the defaults set for each group. This list is named “Choose default apps”. Here's how it looks in Windows 10:

And here's how it looks in Windows 8.1:

Both in Windows 10 and in Windows 8.1, if a category of apps has no default, you will see a plus sign followed by “Choose a default” instead of the name of default app associated with it.

To change one of the defaults, click or tap on the current one or the plus sign displayed before it. A list appears with possible options. This list is different from category to category and from PC to PC. It shows all the apps that are available on your device, that can be set as defaults for that category. Here’s how the list looks in Windows 10:

This is how the list looks in Windows 8.1:

Both in Windows 10 and in Windows 8.1, if no apps are available or if you don’t want to use any of the apps available, you also have the option to look for an app in the Store.

All you have to do is choose the app that you want to set as the default, from the list of possible options.

Read the next page of this guide to see how to reset the default apps to the ones recommended by Microsoft, how to change the default apps for each file type, and how to modify the default apps used for each protocol.