Set Your Own Defaults in Windows 7

Most file types in Windows will only run under one program or software package. With media files, such as music files and videos, there may be any number of choices of software that will run them. Typically, the last software package installed that is able to run a particular media file will control that file type each time it is opened. If the user wants to specify software to run each media type, there are a few simple steps to make that happen.


Start by clicking on the “Start” button in the lower left corner and opening “Control Panel.” If you haven’t done so, click on the drop down menu beside “View by:” and select “Small Icons” or “Large Icons” rather than “Category.” This makes it easier to find the functionality that is desired rather than trying to guess under which category Windows placed it.


Click on “Default Programs” and then “Set your default programs.” Scroll down and highlight each of the media players installed on the computer. At a minimum, there should be “Windows Media Player.” In addition, there may be others such as iTunes and QuickTime.


If you want one media player to handle any file it is equipped for, click “Set this program as default” to the right after highlighting it. If you want more finite control over which type of file is controlled by each media player, click “Choose defaults for this program” and check or uncheck the box beside each file extension listed.


If you feel more comfortable starting with file extensions and choosing the software to open it, click the “Associate a file type or protocol with a program” under the Default Programs section of Control Panel. In this list, scroll down and double click each file extension you want to examine or change and choose a program from the list under “Recommended Programs.” If the program you want to use isn’t there and you are sure of the selection you want to make, click the down arrow to the right beside “Other Programs” and select one from that list. If you select a program that doesn’t know how to use the file type you are changing, it will create unexpected results.


One more setting under the Default Programs section of Control Panel warrants examination and that is “Change AutoPlay settings. In this section, you can specify what happens when you insert a CD, DVD, or attach a thumb drive that contains media files. Instead of having to open or click on the file, your chosen media player can be set to open automatically and begin playing.


For each type of media in the list on the left, click on the drop down menu on the right and set a default action to take. In this way, if you insert a music CD or attach a thumb drive containing a video, it will begin playing without any further action on your part.


Knowing how to modify the default settings in Windows 7 can make the user experience much better.  Follow these directions and make playing videos and music files much easier.