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How to Open a File in Windows 11 – Instructions

/ / Latest, Microsoft, Windows 11
A picture showing how to open a file in Windows 11 using File Explorer.

Overview of How to Open a File in Windows 11:

            To open a file in Windows 11 that appears in the right pane of a File Explorer window, double-click the file. Alternatively, to open a file in Windows 11, right-click the file to show a pop-up contextual menu. If there is an app set as the default app used by Windows to open files of the selected file type, as shown by the file’s extension, then click the “Open” command in the pop-up menu to open the file. Windows then attempts to open the file using the default application it thinks is best to open files of that type on your computer in a separate window.

            However, if there is no default app set to open files of the selected file type in Windows, you will instead see an “Open with” command instead of an “Open” command in the pop-up menu. You can select this command to select which app to use to open the file and optionally also set the default app to use to open files of that file type.

            If Windows doesn’t know which application to use to open the file because there is no default application set to open files of the selected file type, then either a “How do you want to open this file?” window or a “Select an app to open (file type) file” window appears onscreen, depending on your Windows 11 build. These windows both show apps Windows thinks may be used to open the type of file you selected. In either window, click to select the app to use to open the file.

A picture showing how to open a file in Windows 11 using File Explorer.

A picture showing how to open a file in Windows 11 using File Explorer.

            To set the app you select as the default app to open files of the selected file type in Windows 11 if using the “How do you want to open this file?” window, check the “Always use this app to open (file extension) files” checkbox. Alternatively, to open it using the selected app only once, uncheck this checkbox. Alternatively, if using the “Select an app to open (file type) file” window, click the “Always” button to open the file and set the app as the default app or click the “Just once” button to open it without setting a default. Alternatively, to cancel opening the file and close the dialog box, press “Esc” on your keyboard.

            If opening the file, Windows then attempts to open it using the selected app. Based on your choice, Windows may also set the app you selected as the default app to open those types of files in the future.

Instructions on How to Open a File in Windows 11:

  1. To open a file in Windows 11 that appears in the right pane of a File Explorer window, double-click the file.
  2. Alternatively, to open a file in Windows 11, right-click the file to show a pop-up contextual menu.
  3. If there is an app set as the default app used by Windows to open files of the selected file type, as shown by the file’s extension, then click the “Open” command in the pop-up menu to open the selected file.
  4. Windows then attempts to open the file using the default application it thinks is best to open files of that type on your computer in a separate window.
  5. However, if there is no default app set to open files of the selected file type in Windows, you will instead see an “Open with” command instead of an “Open” command in the pop-up menu.
  6. You can select this command to select which app to use to open the file and optionally also set the default app to use to open files of that file type.
  7. If Windows doesn’t know which application to use to open the file because there is no default application set to open files of the selected file type, then either a “How do you want to open this file?” window or a “Select an app to open (file type) file” window appears onscreen, depending on your Windows 11 build.
  8. These windows both show apps Windows thinks may be used to open the type of file you selected.
  9. In either window, click to select the app to use to open the file.
  10. To set the app you select as the default app to open files of the selected file type in Windows 11 if using the “How do you want to open this file?” window, check the “Always use this app to open (file extension) files” checkbox.
  11. To instead open it using the selected app only once, uncheck this checkbox.
  12. Alternatively, if using the “Select an app to open (file type) file” window, click the “Always” button to open the file and set the app as the default app or click the “Just once” button to open it without setting a default.
  13. Alternatively, to cancel opening the file and close the dialog box, press “Esc” on your keyboard.
  14. If opening the file, Windows then attempts to open it using the selected app. Based on your choice, Windows may also set the app you selected as the default app to open those types of files in the future.

Video Lesson on How to Open a File in Windows 11:

            The following video lesson, titled “Opening a File,” shows how to open a file in Windows 11. This video lesson is from our complete Windows 11 tutorial, titled “Mastering Windows Made Easy v.11.”

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