How to make Windows 8 open files in desktop programs

aNewDomain.net – One of the bigger hurdles new users of Windows 8 need to overcome is the new modern UI. Nothing is more annoying than opening say a PDF while on the desktop, and having the Windows 8 Reader app open full screen. Then you have to figure out how to get back to the desktop – (tip: just hit the Windows key.)

Windows users are used to the desktop, and a huge annoyance is that most of your files are set to open in the modern apps by default. While I find this behavior makes sense on my Surface RT, on my desktop PC, not so much.

To make Windows 8 open files the way you’re used to, in desktop programs, you’ll need to change File Associations. Don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it sounds.

Change All File Type Associations

From the Windows 8 Start Screen type: default programs and click its result under Search Results.

Image Courtesy: Microsoft

Image Courtesy: Microsoft

Alternately, you can get there by using the keyboard shortcut Windows Key + X to bring up the power user menu, and click Control Panel and open Default Programs.

Image Courtesy: Microsoft

Image Courtesy: Microsoft

Then click the Associate a File Type or Protocol with a Program link.

Image Courtesy: Microsoft

Image Courtesy: Microsoft

Now, go through each file type and select the program you want to have open it. While this method takes more time, it provides granular control over which program opens each file type. And once you set it, you can forget it.

Image Courtesy: Microsoft

Image Courtesy: Microsoft

If you want to change default programs in a faster and broader way, go to Set Your Default Programs. From there highlight the program or app you want to set, then click Set this Program as Default on the right.

Or for more detailed control, select Choose Defaults for this Program, then check the file types you want it to open. Notice here I am selecting Windows Photo Viewer, and having it open all photo types. Because having your images open in the Photo app all the time is quite irritating.

Image Courtesy: Microsoft

Image Courtesy: Microsoft

Keep in mind this will be the default program this type of file opens in every time. If you want to open a file in a different program temporarily, simply right-click it and select Open with and the program you want to use.

Image Courtesy: Microsoft

Image Courtesy: Microsoft

Note that changing file associations works in XP through Windows 8.1 but I find that it’s most important to set these right away in Windows 8 and 8.1 so when I’m working in desktop mode I stay there. Fighting between the desktop and modern UI while trying to get work done is a time waster.

Brian Burgess
Brian Burgess resides in Minnesota. A technology enthusiast his entire life, he worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. In addition to contributing to Tech Page One, he’s the Editor in Chief at groovyPost.com, a contributor to Gizmag, and has written for other notable tech sites Byte, InformationWeek, and How-To Geek.
Brian Burgess
Tags: Software,Technology