How To Set Default Programs, File Associations & Context Menus Easily

Varun Kashyap 21-09-2009

How To Set Default Programs, File Associations & Context Menus Easily logocpChanging things as simple as file associations, icons and context menus can get pretty daunting in Windows, pretty easily. Default Programs Editor is an excellent tool that lets you do such things in a breeze, without having to mess with the registry or go running about the control panel looking for where to start.


A small download, Default Programs Editor is portable and doesn’t need any installation. It can be used for doing things like editing context menus for a file type or to set default programs or managing Autoplay handlers. Default Programs Editor works in a wizard-like mode making it super easy to make such changes.

You can edit File Type Settings which include editing the default program used to open a file type, changing the context menu entries for a file type and changing the description and icon. As an example when I used 7-Zip to extract a RAR file for the first time on my computer, the RAR file automatically got an ugly white 7-Zip icon. So how can I change the default icon for RAR files?

You can suggest I use the built in Windows tools and spend the next 15 minutes trying to figure out how to do it or perhaps edit the registry. Here is how it is down with Default Programs Editor:

How To Set Default Programs, File Associations & Context Menus Easily defaultscreen

  • I went to [NO LONGER WORKS] IconFinder, searched for a suitable icon and downloaded it.
  • Next I clicked on File type settings in Default Programs Editor, then clicked on Icon.
  • In the search box I typed .rar, chose RAR file and clicked next.

How To Set Default Programs, File Associations & Context Menus Easily changeicon

  • Clicked browse and chose the icon file I wanted to use and then clicked Save Icon and it was done already.

Similarly you can change the context menu entries and description easily.

Another important function you can use Default Programs Editor in addition to being able to set default programs is  for managing the AutoPlay Handler. AutoPlay handlers appear on the list when you plus in a USB drive, or insert a Blank CD, or connect your iPod. You can change which options appear when you insert a certain media, as well as create your own AutoPlay Handlers.

  • Click on the type of media you want to edit the handlers for
  • In the next screen, you can edit the existing handlers, delete the ones you don’t want or add new ones

How To Set Default Programs, File Associations & Context Menus Easily autplayhandler

  • Clicking on Add will give you a list of handlers that already exist but may not be used for the type of media you are editing for.

How To Set Default Programs, File Associations & Context Menus Easily newplayhandler

  • If you don’t find what you want in here, you can also create your own handlers. Just click on Add a new handler, specify the action name, program and icon and you are done.

Lastly you can change program associations with the minimum of fuss. Choose the third option (Default Programs Settings). You can now see a list of all registered programs and the file types they handle. Click on the one you want to assign to/revoke from a file type, click next and check/uncheck the file type under question. For example if you want iTunes to handle all .mp3 files, click on iTunes, click next and place a check against .mp3.

How To Set Default Programs, File Associations & Context Menus Easily itunesmp3

All these settings are of course stored in the registry. Default Programs Editor allows you to create reg files for the changes you just made so that you can just double click the reg file to apply the settings in future or apply them on another computer (provided the software and/or files are available).


To create a reg file just click on the downward pointing arrow in the final step and choose the appropriate option.

How To Set Default Programs, File Associations & Context Menus Easily savereg

Default Programs Editor is a great, light wieght portable application that you can use for tasks like above without requiring full on tweaking utilities. If you know of other similar programs let us know in the comments.

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  1. taylor1277
    June 28, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    Is there somewhere online that I can get a list of programs that are best suited for each file association. my file association is really screwed up. or how do I find the reg files that are in my registry.? is there a file in it with old associations? one major problem I am having is .exe files open with VLC media player

  2. paul
    September 25, 2009 at 7:12 am

    it would be great if they offered .RAR/winrar support

  3. poch
    September 22, 2009 at 7:00 am

    I read somewhere that malwares enter thru autorun so it must be disabled.
    I'll try to find the article and send it to you.

    • Kermonk
      December 21, 2009 at 6:48 pm

      Utter brain dead rubbish on microsofts part - I never get malware on my USB sticks - why? Because I don't expose them to it!
      Why the hell should we all suffer because the idiots at microsoft doesn't allow us to autorun from usb sticks *fume*

  4. excentric
    September 21, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    This sounds great, but when I went to the download site, I got this: "Download:

    Default Programs Editor 2.3
    Posted September 15th, 2009

    Microsoft .Net Framework 3.5 must be installed.
    This is a required prerequisite. It is freely available from ( for Windows XP and Windows Vista users who don't have it."

    Why do I need an MS product for a portable application?

    • anand
      September 23, 2009 at 12:23 am

      That portable app might be developed using .net programming language targeting the 3.5 framework so u need it for proper working.

      • excentric
        September 25, 2009 at 12:16 pm

        But if it's a portable ap, doesn't that mean I could put it on a usb stick? I'd have to put MS .Net FW 3.5 on the stick too? Am I not understanding this concept?

        • anand
          September 28, 2009 at 11:54 pm

          yes I understand. But it doesnt mean you have to have framework 3.5 in the usb stick. the os should have it (windows vista and above have it installed by default). so it is a portable app for windows vista and above.

        • excentric
          September 29, 2009 at 12:17 am

          Thanks. That clears up my confusion. *smile*