Cannot Change Default Apps or Programs in Windows 10 [Fix]

When you open Default apps and select a default program for Web browser, Email or any other item, the Choose an app dialog pops up but nothing may happen when you the select a item from the list. Here is a small video clip that explains the problem.

I’ve been working on this issue for the past few days, collecting logs from users who faced this problem. Based on my observation the problem happens if Windows is unable to generate the hash when user tries to set file associations. This is a user profile specific issue, seen mainly for Local user accounts (if the user had switched from a Microsoft account earlier). Regardless, the Default Programs (Control Panel) works perfectly and can be used as a workaround.

Solution 1: Switch to a Microsoft Account

Easy way to fix the problem is to switch to a Microsoft account. Open Settings (Winkey + i) and click Accounts

In Your email and accounts, click Sign in with a Microsoft account instead

Follow the prompts to switch your Local account to a Microsoft account. The next time you sign in to Windows, use your Microsoft account name and password. Your apps and files will not be affected.

Solution 2: Remove your Microsoft Account information from Account Settings

If you don’t want to switch to a Microsoft Account, but wish to continue using the Local Account, then use these steps:

1. Open Settings (Winkey + i) and click Accounts

2. Under "Accounts used by other apps", select the Microsoft account that was previously associated with the user account

3. Click Remove.

Default Apps should now work correctly.


In the Default apps window, click Set defaults by app. This opens the Default Programs Control Panel (Classic user interface, which still works great) where you can choose your defaults.

Option 2

To set the defaults on a per-file type basis, right-click the file for which you want to assign the default program, click Open with.. > Choose another app

Select the program from the list, and make sure you enable the check box for Always use this app to open…

The Solutions and Workarounds were originally tested in the current build of Windows 10, which is 10586.164 as of this post.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

20 thoughts on “Cannot Change Default Apps or Programs in Windows 10 [Fix]

  1. Unfortunately for me, I recently bought a Packard Bell and couldn’t get a Linux OS booted up, so I’m back to using Worthless Windows…. but no use complaining – Bill Gates is too busy pretending to be a nice guy, donating his millions to help others, while we wish he would spend some of that money fixing the operating system that made him the billionaire he is today. Be careful, sir. Not everyone will forgive your greed, and in your case that means you have millions of people who curse your existence daily.

  2. I have done every one of these so-called “fixes” multiple times, including even editing the registry to add a “NoOpenWith” string, yet Windows 10 continually and relentlessly keeps resetting my default picture viewer from Photoshop 2017 Windows Photos. I am a graphics professional and have absolutely no use for “Photos” and need my image files to always open in Photoshop. No matter what i have tried, Windows 10 keeps resetting the default picture viewer randomly and without warning – no update required or restart for it to do this, it just does it about every 15 minutes and I am beyond fed up with it. If anyone every comes up with a permanent solution to this problem I would love to hear it, but control panel, default app settings, all the methods listed here only work temporarily. !5 minutes later, Windows has decided to reset mty defaults again. Grrr arrgghhh

  3. I have yet to see a solution for my issue. I accidentally, don’t know how, changed startup and .bin files to either EDGE or EXPLORER. How do i reverse both the startup and .bin files back to startup and .bin and not have the big E try to open them?

  4. Use the control panel, not the poxy half-baked screw-up MS introduced in Win 10.
    Control Panel -> All Control Panel Items -> Default Programs -> Set Default Programs

  5. The workaround option 2 doesn’t work for me. The programs that I want to use as default, i. e., Adobe Acrobat (not Reader) and MS Office Picture Manager, don’t even show up as available choices. And I realize that I’m just wasting my time posting. Going back to Win 7.

  6. I think this is a very serious issue that should not be ignored by Microsoft, as it seems it has been, and they should find a solution and include it in one of Windows updates. But I have just installed Windows 10 Anniversary edition, and the problem is still there. I am afraid to follow some drastic solutions suggested by other users (and some MS help personnel), so I am only using the “workarounds” suggested (actually I figured out those by myself), but these are only temporary solutions. Is Microsoft deaf and dumb? Can’t you see this is a serious problem? With so many experts, can’t you find a solution? Couldn’t you at least tell us what is going on, and what are you doing to solve this? Or are we all wrong, and there not really a problem and it is all due to a fault in our system configuration? And, by the way, please Microsoft can you stop trying to force us to use your programs as defaults (I think it might be this one of the causes of this issue).

  7. Come on MicroSoft. Sort this out. I’m counting to ten and then i’m going to LINUX!!!!!!

    You guys are supposed to be the experts!

  8. Can’t get solution 1 to work with a microsoft account, I’m trying to change all open-office file types to open-office eg .odp is opened by powerpoint, ods by excel, and as I haven’t microsoft office installed it askes me to buy it each time.
    Workaround 2 doesn’t work either, still tries use office each new file

  9. @Peter: It’s most likely caused by Adobe resetting itself as the default. Which version of Adobe DC do you use? And can you try unchecking the “set default” or similar setting there?

  10. My account is set to Microsoft, but I’ve tried all of the default app protocols technique to change pdf to Acrobat DC and it keeps reverting back to Microsoft Edge when I recycle the computer.

  11. No, no, no! “Workarounds” is NOT what we want. We want you (Microsoft) to write some code to SOLVE THE PROBLEM, download that to us, and make Windows 10 work the way that it is supposed to.

    We paid for the software, and you are in the software business. We have every right to expect you to make it work painlessly and with no hassles.

  12. Solution 2 worked but only after I restarted my computer. Thanks a lot for your help! I was so frustrated by this problem.

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