How to change or select which program starts when you double-click a file in Windows 8

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Introduction
When you double-click on a file in Windows 8, Windows will automatically open that file using a program that has been associated with that file's extension. There may come a time, though, that you wish you to use a different program to open a file rather than use the one that is set as the default in Windows. This tutorial will discuss how to assign a different program to a file extension so that it will become the default program for that file type. This tutorial will also explain how to assign a default program to a file extension that Windows does not already know about.

How to change file association by right-clicking on a file in Windows 8
To change the default program a file type is opened with, from the Windows 8 desktop search for the file you wish to change and right-click on it to bring up the file menu as shown below.

File menu

At the above menu, please select the Open with menu option. You will then be presented with a screen similar to the one below that shows the available programs that you can open the file with.

Open With dialog

To change the default program that this file is opened with, please click on the Choose default program... option. You will then be shown a dialog asking how you want to open this type of file as shown below.

How do you want to open this type of file screen

In this screen you will see a list of programs that Microsoft recommends you use when dealing with the particular type of file. To see other possible choices, you should click on the See all... option. This will bring up a screen that shows a larger list of choices that you can choose from as shown below.

Program recommendations

If you see the program you wish to use by default, then put a check mark in the check box labeled Use this app for all .extension files and then select the program. The file will then be opened by this program and all other files that contain this extension will use this program as well going forward.
If you do not see the desired program, though, you should then put a check mark in the check box labeled Use this app for all .extension files and then click on the Look for an app on this PC option to open a window where you can browse to the program you wish to use. You will now be presented with the Open with window where you can browse to the executable that you want to set as your default. Once you have found the executable, select it by left-clicking on it once so it becomes highlighted and then click on the Openbutton. The file should now have been opened using the program you selected and these types of files will now automatically be opened by this program.

How to change file association through the Set Associations Control Panel in Windows 8
This method will allow you to change the default program for a particular extension using the Set Associations control panel. This control panel contains a listing of all known file extensions and the default programs that are assigned to them.
From the Windows 8 Start Screen, click on the Control Panel app. When the Control Panel opens, scroll down and then click on the More Settings option. This will open the classic Windows Control Panel screen as shown below.

Start Menu Search
Click on the Programs category as shown by the arrow above. This will open the Programs category of the Control Panel.

Set Associations control panel

Now click on the Make a file type always open in a specific program option as shown above. You will now be at the Set Associations Control Panel, which shows all the extensions that Windows knows about and the associated program that is set to open these types of files.

Choose program dialog

To change the default program for a file in Windows 8, just scroll through the list of extensions until you find the one you want to change. Then click once on it once to select it and then click on the Change program... button. This will open a screen that displays the programs that Windows recommends you use to open this type of file as shown below.

Open With screen

To see other possible choices, you should click on the See all... option. This will bring up a screen that shows a larger list of choices that you can choose from as shown below.

Open With screen

If you see the program you wish to make the default for this particular type of file, then put a check mark in the check box labeled Use this app for all .extension files and then select the program you wish to use. The file will then be opened by this program and all other files that contain this extension will use this program as well.
If you do not see the program in this list, though, you should then put a check mark in the check box labeled Use this app for all .extension files and then click on the Look for an app on this PC option to open a window where you can browse to the file you wish to use. You will now be presented with the Open with window where you can browse to the executable that you wish to use to open these types of files. Once you have found the executable, select it by left-clicking on it once so it becomes highlighted and then click on the Open button.
You will now be back at the Set Associations Control Panel, but now the extension will show the new program that you have associated with it. When you open a file in the future that has this extension it will now use the new program.

How to set the default programs for an unknown extension in Windows 8
At times you may have files that have a file extension that is not know to Windows. Therefore, when you attempt to open them, Windows will not know what program to use and you will see a dialog box that states Windows can't open this file. This section will explain how to assign a default program to this new file type so that it can be opened automatically with the program of your choice when you double-click on it.
To assign a program to an unknown extension, simply double-click on the file that you wish to assign the program to. When you double-click on it, Windows will display a dialog box that states it can't open this file.

Choose program dialog

At this point you have two choices. If you do not know which program to use, you can select the Look for an app in the Store option, which will allow you to search for an app in the Microsoft Store that may be able to open that type of file. The other option is to use a program on your hard drive to launch the program. To find a program already on your hard drive, please click on the See all... option.
This will bring up a screen that shows a larger list of choices that you can choose from as shown below.

Open With screen

If you see the program you wish to make the default for this particular type of file, then put a check mark in the check box labeled Use this app for all .extension files and then select the program you wish to use. The file will then be opened by this program and all other files that contain this extension will use this program as well.
If you do not see the program in this list, though, you should then put a check mark in the check box labeled Use this app for all .extension files and then click on the Look for an app on this PC option to open a window where you can browse to the file you wish to use. You will now be presented with the Open with window where you can browse to the executable that you wish to use to open these types of files. Once you have found the executable, select it by left-clicking on it once so it becomes highlighted and then click on the Open button.