Setting Default Apps in Windows 10

Do you want your PDFs to open in Adobe and not in Microsoft Edge? That can be easily done.

As an FYI, these instructions will work regardless of the screen reader you are using or indeed whether or not you are using one.

Default Apps – What are they?

A Default App is the app you choose to utilize to open and use each time you want to access a specific type of service. For example, most people want to open their pictures using the Photos App. If the Photos App is your default for every time you get a picture as an attachment, Windows will not ask you what program to use to open the file, it’ll just open it using the app you’ve chosen in the System Settings.

You can also choose Default Apps by file type, by application, or you can access a context menu where you can change which app or program with which you want to open a selected file.

How to Choose the Most Common Default Apps

  1. In the Windows settings, there is a section to allow you to choose a Default App for your mail, music, photos, videos, and web browser. Below are instructions on how to access and change these default apps:

  2. Open the Start Menu and type Default Apps. Press Enter

  3. Settings will open and you will have the option of changing the default application to open each of the following types of files:

        • Email

        • Maps

        • Music Player

        • Photo Viewer

        • Video Player

        • Web Browser

  4. Move among the options above using the Tab Key. Once you are focused on the default app you want to use, press Space or Enter. A pop-up will appear allowing you to choose which app you’d like to utilize for the selected function.

  5. At that point, use the Tab Key again to select the specific app you’d like to utilize and when focused on it, press Enter.


If I wanted to change my default browser so that every time I opened a link, it opened in Google Chrome, I’d do the following:

  1. Open the Start Menu and type Default Apps. Press Enter

  2. Press the Tab key until I hear Web Browser. Your screen reader should also tell you the current default.

  3. Press Space or Enter to open the pop-up containing the apps I can choose from.

  4. Tab until I hear Google Chrome. Press Enter.

  5. My default browser is now Google Chrome. I can now close the window…there is no “save” button.

What About Choosing Apps by File Type?

A question we get a lot (or frequently anyway) is “how do I make sure that all PDFs open in Adobe and not whatever other program is being used to open them?”. There are multiple ways to do this, but I’m going to give you directions for just one in this tip.

Before you start, please make sure the file is saved on your computer.

  1. With the file selected in Windows Explorer, press Shift + F10 to open the context menu (or you may need to press Function + Shift + F10 if your computer is set up to need the function key added to make the function keys work). This is the same as right clicking on the file.

  2. Arrow down to Open With… You can also press H to jump directly there and open the submenu.

  3. Arrow down to Choose Another App, even if you see the app you want to use listed in the submenu.

  4. A dialogue will open where you can use the arrow keys to select the program you’d like to use. Press Tab once and you should hear the app you are currently using to open that file type. Arrow down to select the program you’d like to use to open these file types. Do NOT press Enter.

  5. Press Tab to navigate to the checkbox that says “Always use this App to Open .xxx files”. If you want to always use this app, check the box using the spacebar.

  6. Press Tab once more and you will hear “OK Button”. Press Space or Enter to select that button.


If I want to change the file type to open a PDF I have in my Downloads Folder:

  1. Follow steps 1-3 above

  2. In the dialogue that opens, press Tab to navigate to the selection area

  3. I want my .PDF files to always open in Adobe, so I will arrow down to adobe

  4. Press Tab again to navigate to the “Always use this App to Open .PDF Files” checkbox and press a space bar to check it.

  5. Press Tab one more time to reach the OK button and press Enter or Space.