DefaultPrograms: a handy tool for working with file types and extensions


DefaultPrograms is a small, free utility that can manage and edit the way windows works with filetypes, such as editing their context menu items, their icons, description, and the associated file type for an extension.

For Vista and Windows Seven it can also manage and edit autoplay handlers, as well as edit, add, or remove the default registered programs associated with file types.

This is a kind of swiss army knife of tools for working with file types and extensions. As you can see from the description above, it does more in Vista/Windows Seven environments than in XP.

And since I am using Windows XP I will not cover DefaultPrograms’ ability to edit autoplay handler programs, no’r will I be using it to edit the registered default programs and their assigned types.

Instead, for this review I will go through two exercises that can (a) show what this program can do and just how cool itis in general, and (b) illustrate the user experience a little bit.

Exercise #1. Changing the default icon for PDF files on Windows XP.

I use PDF-XChange Viewer as my default PDF reader, and don’t particularly care for the default icon it uses for PDF’s. Here’s how DefaultPrograms can change the default used icon for a specific file type.

1. Click the “Icon” button in the interface DefaultPrograms Icon Change1
2. The next screen will display a list of file extensions DefaultPrograms Icon Change2
3. Filter by the desired extension (“PDF” in this case) DefaultPrograms Icon Change3
4. The next screen shows the current icon used. Click “Browse” to select a new icon DefaultPrograms Icon Change4
5. Select the new icon. You can point to executables, individual icon files, or icon libraries DefaultPrograms Icon Change5
6. Click “Save Icon” and you’re done DefaultPrograms Icon Change6

Exercise #2: Changing the context menu options a file type (.JPG).

You may have noticed that, at least in XP, when you right click an image file and click “Edit” in the context menu, the default program used to edit is MS Paint. Here’s how you can use DefaultPrograms to edit the context menu for JPG’s.

1. Click the “Icon” button in the interface contextmenu1
2. The next screen will display a list of file extensions contextmenu2
3. Typed “JP” in the filter then CTRL-selected four image types at once (see image to the right) contextmenu3
4. Next, in the list of context menu commands, select “Edit” and click “Edited Selected Command” contextmenu4
5. The next prompt shows the command name and program path contextmenu5
6. Change the path and parameters to the new program; in this case I will be using my favorite “PhotoScape contextmenu6
7. That’s it (although you will need to do this for remaining image types). contextmenu7

The verdict: what I like about this program is the user interface, which is simple and intuitive, and the fact that it works and does exactly what it claims to do. I’ve seen and written about a number of programs whose functions intersect with this one (Types and Icon Phile come to mind) but DefaultPrograms is without a question the utility that I would prefer to use to perform these sorts of tasks. Highly recommended.

Version Tested: 2.4

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7. MS .NET Framework 3.5 required.

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 675K).