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There are lots of media players with varying capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. Even if you don't like Windows Media Player you'll need something.

How do you delete a program as default? I wish to take Windows Media Player off as default. It does not handle half the extensions as some other players.

By "default" I'm going to assume that you mean the default for playing a media file when you double click on it.

It is possible to remove the associations, but honestly, I don't think that's what you really want. Removing the association leaves you with no program to be the default.

Instead, you want to replace the default program with the one of your choosing. Doing that by hand can be difficult, but many programs have a shortcut that makes it pretty easy.

I happen to use VLC media player, a free, open source, cross platform media player that supports many, many different file types and encodings. I'll use it as an example.

When you run the VLC Setup program, one of the steps allows you to choose various options for the install:

VLC Media Player Setup, showing file associations

I've scrolled the list of options down somewhat to uncover the File type associations options. I've selected all (you can expand the lists to examine the list of file types in more detail, and to pick and choose if you like) and on completion the setup program will register VLC media player as the default program to play all those file types.

That's by far the fastest way to set up "something else" as your default media player when you double click or otherwise open a file. No "unregistering", no deleting, no having to figure out what file types you care about, just let the setup program do it.

Most other media players do something similar, either at setup time - often in the "Advanced" or other non-default options selections - or as an option in the program's preferences dialog.

In fact, Windows Media Player itself has a similar selection as part of it's options:

Windows Media Player filetype associations

If you decide you want Windows Media Player to play some, or even all, of your media files once again you can simply run it and return to this options dialog.

Almost every other approach involves manually setting the media player for each individual file type that you care about. If you're looking to make a wholesale change, as it sounds like you are, using the replacement utilities ability to set it all up for you is most likely the best way to go.

Article C4191 - February 28, 2010 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

March 1, 2010 8:25 AM

I've used VLC for years - the first thing I did after installing it on my new desktop, was right-click on most of my media files and select
VLC as the default. It also lets you play DVD's without checking the region information

March 2, 2010 9:04 AM

I think what she wants is to make some other media player the default instead of WM. You can just right click on an audio file and select open with. Then choose which one and make that your default player.

March 2, 2010 9:23 AM

I went to Options on Windows Media Player. I have Vista Home Ed. There is no tab for File Types.

March 2, 2010 10:06 AM

A little more on manually changing file defaults. (Just in case your new player doesn't offer to switch your defaults.)

*Open the folder that contains the file(s) you want to change.
*Right-click a file you want to change, and then click 'Open With...'
*If you don't see the program you want to use as default, you will have to browse to find it. (Normally in C:\Program Files\)
*Click the program that you want to use to open this file automatically. (It will have an .exe extension)
*Check the 'Always use the selected program to open this kind of file' check box, and then click OK.
*You will have to do this for every extension you want to default to the new player. (MP3, WMA, MP4, MPEG, AVI, etc.)

David H.
March 2, 2010 3:49 PM

Your comment should read as follows: "If you're looking to make a wholesale change, as it sounds like you are, using the replacement utility's ability to set it all up for you is most likely the best way to go." Because it's possessive case and only one utility will be used.

Joe Doran
March 2, 2010 6:06 PM

I too have had problems with the Windows Media Player. Particularly the eml extension but your VLC player had a security warning when I tried to download. Should I be concerned. Thanks, Joe

Terry Hollett
March 3, 2010 3:59 AM

Sometimes when you install another media player and set it as the default, Windows Media Player will still open up. It's happened to me at two instances over the years.

In this case you would need to go to the WMP options and uncheck everything - then you can use your default player. By the way, I find Media Player Classic more robust than VLC.

March 11, 2010 4:06 PM

I thought that just right clicking and selecting the program you desire to open it with was sufficient?

Lee Nelson Guptill
March 15, 2010 10:30 PM

There is a new company that is manually recording all this onto large vinyl discs. It is a new technology called "records." No prior knowledge is needed. V Ree EZ.

A. Orcan
April 3, 2010 2:46 AM

Different media players have sometimes different behavior when modifying file associations. With so many players out there, it is impossible to list all, but the procedure to be followed should be:

If you already have one or more media players with some file types (avi, mp3, mp4, etc.) configured as default, you have to first unselect any in that player's list otherwise when you use that player or if the player installed a utility that works at bootup, the associations will come back, sometimes even if that player has been uninstalled.

When installing a new player, or changing a file association for it, care should be taken in its list. Sometimes, defaults will act again automatically and unexpected associations will result.
Tools>folder options>file types in explorer is another option to make changes for one or many file types in XP and similar options are there for others.
I use different players for different file types, but my favorite is JetAudio free version since it plays everything, downloads anything needed if it can't and even in my oldest PC, it can play full HD videos without stuttering and the audio quality is outstanding. I tried almost all the others, but each had problems, like no equalizer settings kept in VLC, poor audio in MP Classic, hogged system resources for many popular players, etc.

March 31, 2012 12:55 PM

Why couldn't you answer the question as asked? I want to DISASSOCIATE media player from ALL file types and don't have a program(s) in mind to replace it yet. Media Player fails on a regular basis - locks up the computer and please don't decide I need troubleshooting help with Media Player, only reason it isn't nuked is Media Center - where I watch TV. (Media Center replacements may be a solution - but not today). All i want to do is remove Media Player from the files it will open automatically WITHOUT assigning another program to those files.
Can you help with this (what I was expecting when I came to this thread)?


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