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“How Do You Want to Open This File” on Windows 10 – How to Change the App?

Opening a file on Windows 10 is simple; double-click it and it will open in the default app for the file. If you’ve recently installed a new app that can handle the file type, you will be asked to pick which app to open the file with. The prompt shows a list of apps to pick from.

How Do You Want to Open This File

How Do You Want to Open This File Message

When you double-click the file and see the “How do you want to open this file?” prompt, it may not always show you a list of apps that you can use to open the file. This generally happens for a few different reasons;

  • You do not have an app installed that can open the file.
  • You have not set a default app to open the file
  • Windows 10 does not know which app has the capability to open a file.

How to change the app that opens a file?

The “fix” to change the app that opens a file is pretty simple.

1. Install an app 

The first thing you should do is install an app that can open the file type.

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Right-click the file and select Properties.
  3. Go to the General tab.
  4. Check the file type/extension.
  5. Look for and install an app that can open the file type.
  6. Double-click the file again and select the newly installed app to open the file.

2. Set a default app

If you’ve installed an app to open the file but you still get an empty list with the “How do you want to open this file?” prompt, you need to manually set a default app for the file.

  1. Open the Settings app with the Win+I keyboard shortcut. 
  2. Go to Apps.
  3. Select the Default apps tab.
  4. Click Choose default apps by file type.
  5. Find the file extension in the list and click the plus button.
  6. Select the default app from the list.
  7. Double-click the file and it will open in the app.

3. Select an app from the list

The “How do you want to open this file?” prompt can be forced to show a list of apps. 

  1. Double-click the file you want to open.
  2. When you see the “How do you want to open this file?” prompt, click ‘More apps’.
  3. Scroll through the list of apps and select one.

Note: you can click Look for another app on this PC to view more apps.

Conclusion

The “How do you want to open this file?” prompt isn’t a bug. It’s simply Windows 10’s way of asking a user which app they want to use when it encounters a new file type. You will find this happens whenever you download a type of file that you’ve never opened before. Installing the right app will make the problem go away.

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