How to set program access and computer defaults

In my previous articles I have shown you how to customize the AutoPlay feature in Windows Vista and how to set your default programs for certain file types and protocols. In this tutorial I will show you how to set defaults for certain activities. These settings can be done from the Set Program Access and Computer Defaults window, where you will find options on how to change the default programs for activities such as web browsing, e-mail, instant messaging, etc.

In the Start Menu search box type the word default and then click on the first result.

Program access and computer defaults

The Default Programs main window will open and you will see four options.

Program access and computer defaults

Click on the Set program access and computer default link.

Program access and computer defaults

In the Set Program Access and Computer Defaults window there are three categories: Microsoft Windows, Non-Microsoft and Custom.

Program access and computer defaults

Each category has specific options. If you click on the small arrows from the right, a roll-over menu will appear with all available options.

The first category, Microsoft Windows, has predefined options related to the programs used for browsing theinternet , e-mail, media player and instant messenger. Because these options are predefined and cannot be changed, this setup is recommended for people that want to revert to the classical Windows programs.

Program access and computer defaults

The second category, Non-Microsoft, allows you to change the predefined options with custom programs, if you there any available alternatives. This setup is recommended for users that don’t want to use the default Windows programs.

If you look carefully, you will notice under each option some additional information: the programs that have access to that task and the programs that don’t. This is a Non-Microsoft setup, as a consequence, the access will be blocked for all Windows default programs like Internet Explorer, Windows Mail, and so on. Also, access will be granted to all non-Microsoft programs, like Opera, MozillaFirefox, etc.

You can select each default program that you want to use, from the drop-down list – if you have any available programs. In my case, I can only select the default web browser.

Program access and computer defaults

The third category is called Custom and it is recommended for advanced users that want to manually configure each default program and the access to that program.

Program access and computer defaults

After you have selected your preferred defaults, click on the OK button.

Related articles:
How to customize AutoPlay
How to set your default programs
How to open files using a different program than the default
How To Clean Up & Enhance The Right-Click Context Menu

6 Replies to “How to set program access and computer defaults

    1. Default email Incredimail
      I could not reset my default email to Incredimail when I got my new laptop that had Vista. EVERY tech help I read did not work, it looked as if Incredimail was the default, but when I right clicked to send a link MSIE opened and told me I didn’t have my default email set correctly. Your post, telling me to go under Custom and uncheck Windows Mail, WORKED!! Thanks so much.

  1. Informative article
    Very much like how XP did it really. In fact I’d go so far to say XP’s is identical! If I remember rightly, Microsoft introduced this tool when they lost a court battle. Unlucky!

  2. Vista only lists other
    Vista only lists other programs that IT LIKES. Even in the “Custom” list. I cannot get Vista to acknowledge my Eudora-Mail program for anything, so I can’t set Eudora-Mail as my default. I really hate Vista. (Not just for this problem. For many reasons.)

  3. wont change for me
    I only have internet explorer loaded so i want to have it set as the default (specifically for digital movie copies that come with blu-rays, requires it).
    Mine is set to custom, and if i either select microsoft windows, or internet explorer under the custom it will take a few seconds once i hit ‘ok’ as if its setting it but it doesnt do it. Soon as I hit ok and close it and go back, its right back to ‘custom’ with ‘use my current web browser’ selected.

    No matter what I do, it resets back to that. I am logged in as administrator, only one log in on the computer.

    How do i change this?

  4. Keeps resetting itself to “Custom”! How can i fix this?
    I am having the same problem. I only have internet explorer loaded and i want to have it set as the default as well.
    However, mine is set to custom, and if i either select microsoft windows, or internet explorer under the custom it will take a few seconds once i hit ‘ok’ as if its setting it but it doesnt do it for me either!!!

    I reset it to Microsoft Windows and it automatiucally goes right back to ‘custom’ with ‘use my current web browser’ selected!!!
    No matter what I do, it resets back to that. I am logged in as administrator – How do i change this?

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