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Make Photoshop Your Default Image Editor In Windows 10

Make Photoshop Your Default Image Editor In Windows 10

Written by Steve Patterson. In this tutorial, we'll learn how to make Adobe Photoshop your default image viewer and editor for popular file formats like JPEG, PNG and TIFF, as well as Photoshop's own PSD format, in Windows 10. By "default image viewer and editor", I mean rather than Windows 10 opening your image files in some other program, like its built-in Photos app or the Windows Photo Viewer, you'll be able to double-click on your images in File Explorer and have them open directly and automatically in Photoshop!

At the time I'm writing this, Photoshop CC 2015.5 is the latest version of Photoshop, so that's what I'll be setting as my default editor, but you can use these same steps with whichever version of Photoshop you currently have installed. Note, though, that this tutorial is specifically for Windows 10 users. If you're running Windows 8 or 8.1, you'll want to check out the previous version of this tutorial. We also have tutorials on setting Photoshop as your default image editor in Windows 7 as well as Mac OS X.

Turning On File Name Extensions

First, in Windows 10, use File Explorer to navigate to a folder that contains one or more images. Here, I've opened a folder that's sitting on my desktop. Inside the folder are four image files. By default, Windows 10 hides the file extensions at the end of the file names, so at the moment, all I'm seeing below the thumbnails are the file names themselves. Other than the fact that one of the thumbnails says "PSD" across it, which tells us that it's a Photoshop PSD file (more on that in a moment), there's nothing to indicate which type of file we're looking at with the other three images:

By default, Windows 10 hides the file extensions after the names. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
By default, Windows 10 hides the three letter file extensions after the names.

To turn on the file extensions, click the View menu at the top of the File Explorer window:

Clicking the View menu in Windows 10 File Explorer. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Clicking the View menu.

Then select File name extensions in the menu by clicking inside its checkbox:

Selecting the File name extensions option under the View menu in Windows 10. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Turning on the file name extensions.

With the three letter extension now appearing at the end of each file name, we can easily see that, starting from the left, my first image is a PNG file (with a .png extension). The second is a JPEG file (with a .jpg extension). The third is a Photoshop PSD file (.psd, which we already knew), and lastly, we have a TIFF file with its .tif extension:

The file extension now appears after the name of each image. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
The file extensions now appear at the end of each name.

Before we continue, if you're wondering why the Photoshop PSD file looks different from the others, it's because Windows 10, on its own, can't render a normal preview of an image that's inside a PSD file. You can preview images inside PSD files if you use Adobe Bridge to navigate to your images rather than the File Explorer. However, if you prefer to stick with File Explorer, just know that you won't be able to see what's inside your PSD files until you actually open them in Photoshop.

The Default Image Viewer

Let's try opening one of the images in Windows 10 to see what happens. I'll double-click on my JPEG image ("fashion.jpg") to open it:

Opening a JPEG image in File Explorer. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Opening the JPEG file by double-clicking on its thumbnail.

Even though I have the latest version of Photoshop, the world's most powerful image editor, installed on my computer, Windows completely ignores it and instead opens the JPEG file in its own Photos app (fashion photo from Adobe Stock):

Windows 10 opened the image in the Photos app. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
In Windows 10, the image opens by default in Photos. Image credit: Adobe Stock.

That's not what I wanted, so I'll close out of the Photos app by clicking the Close icon (the X) in the top right corner:

Closing out of the Photos app. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Closing out of the Photos app.

Making Photoshop The Default Image Viewer And Editor

So how do we tell Windows 10 to open this image in Photoshop instead of the Photos app? And more importantly, how to we tell it to use Photoshop not just for this one image this one time but for every JPEG image we open in the future? It's actually very easy to do. First, right-click on the JPEG image you want to open:

Right-clicking on the JPEG image thumbnail in File Explorer. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Right-clicking on the JPEG image's thumbnail in File Explorer.

Choose Open with from the menu that appears, and then select Choose another app:

Choosing a default program to open JPEG files. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Go to Open with > Choose another app.

Windows 10 will pop open a dialog box asking which app you want to use for opening this type of file. The current default app is listed at the top. In my case, it's Photos:

Photos is currently the default app for opening JPEG files. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Photos is set as the default app for opening JPEG files.

In a moment, we're going to change the default app to Photoshop. But before we do, select Always use this app to open .jpg files at the bottom of the dialog box. This way, when we set the default app to Photoshop, Windows will know that it should always use Photoshop from this moment on whenever we open a JPEG file from File Explorer:

Selecting the Always use this app to open .jpg files option. Image © 2016. Photoshop Essentials.com
Selecting "Always use this app to open .jpg files".

Then, choose Photoshop from the list. If you have multiple versions of Photoshop installed on your computer, make sure you select the latest version. In my case, it's Photoshop CC 2015.5. Click OK to accept the change:

Choosing Photoshop as the new default app for opening JPEG files. Image © 2016. Photoshop Essentials.com
Choosing Photoshop as the new default app for opening JPEG files.

If you don't see Photoshop in the initial list, scroll down to the bottom of the list and choose More apps:

Selecting the More Apps option. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Choose "More apps" if you don't see Photoshop in the original list.

Windows will open an extended list with additional apps to choose from. If you see Photoshop in the list, go ahead and select it, then click OK:

Choosing Photoshop from the list. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Choosing Photoshop from the list.

If Photoshop still did not appear in the list, and you know for a fact that it's installed on your computer, scroll down to the bottom of the list and choose Look for another app on this PC:

Choosing Look for another app on this PC. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Choose "Look for another app on this PC" if Photoshop was nowhere to be found.

Then, you'll need to browse to the location on your computer's hard drive where Photoshop is installed. You'll usually find it on your C: drive. In my case, it's under Program Files > Adobe > Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.5. Double-click on the Photoshop.exe file to select it:

Browsing to Photoshop on my hard drive. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Opening Photoshop by browsing to it on my hard drive.

Whether you selected Photoshop from the list or navigated to it on your hard drive, the JPEG image will instantly open in Photoshop. And, because we enabled the "Always use this app to open .jpg files" option, Photoshop is now the default app for opening all JPEG files in the future:

Photoshop is now the default app for opening jpeg files. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
The image opens in Photoshop, as will every JPEG file from now on.

PNG Files

So far, so good. We've set Photoshop as the default app for opening JPEG files. But we still need to set Photoshop as the default app for opening the other file types as well, so let's run through the steps quickly. I'll right-click on my PNG file ("butterfly.png"):

Opening a different photo. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Right-clicking on the PNG file.

I'll select Open with from the menu, then I'll select Choose another app:

Going to Open With, then Choose another app, for the PNG file. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Choosing Open with, then Choose another app, this time for the PNG file.

And here we see that once again, Photos, not Photoshop, is currently the default app for opening PNG files:

Photos is the current default app for opening PNG files in Windows 10. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Windows 10 loves its Photos app.

To switch the default app to Photoshop, not just for this one image but for all PNG files in the future, I'll first select Always use this app to open .png files at the bottom of the dialog box. Then I'll choose my latest version of Photoshop from the list and click OK:

Setting Photoshop as the new default app for opening PNG files. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Setting Photoshop as the new default app for PNG files.

The PNG file opens in Photoshop, and so will every PNG file opened from File Explorer in the future (butterfly design from Adobe Stock):

The PNG file opens in Photoshop. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
The PNG file in Photoshop. Credit: Adobe Stock.

TIFF Files

Next, I'll set Photoshop as the default app for opening TIFF files by returning to my File Explorer window and right-clicking on my TIFF image ("portrait.tif"):

Right-clicking on the TIFF image in File Explorer. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Right-clicking on the TIFF file.

Just as I did with the JPEG and PNG files, I'll choose Open with from the menu, and then Choose another app:

Going to Open With, then Choose another app, this time for the TIFF file. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Once again selecting Open with, then Choose another app.

This time, at least on my system, we see something different. Instead of Photos being the default app for opening TIFF files, Windows 10 has given the job to its Windows Photo Viewer:

Windows 10 is the current default app for opening TIFF files. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Windows Photo Viewer is the current default app for opening TIFF files.

To change it to Photoshop, I'll select Always use this app to open .tif files at the bottom of the dialog box. Then I'll select Photoshop from the list and click OK:

Windows 10 is the current default app for opening TIFF files. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Setting Photoshop as the new default app for TIFF files.

The TIFF file opens in Photoshop, and just like with JPEG and PNG files, Windows 10 will now use Photoshop to open all TIFF files from File Explorer in the future (portrait photo from Adobe Stock):

Windows 10 is the current default app for opening TIFF files. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
The TIFF file opens in Photoshop. Credit: Adobe Stock.

PSD Files

Finally, while Windows will usually set Photoshop as the default app for opening PSD files (since PSD is Photoshop’s native file format), it still never hurts to check. Also, if you have multiple versions of Photoshop installed on your computer, it’s worth making sure that Windows is using the latest version.

I'll return one last time to my File Explorer window and I'll right-click on my PSD file ("performer.psd"):

Right-clicking on the PSD file in the File Explorer window. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Right-clicking on the PSD file.

I'll choose Open with, then Choose another app:

Going to Open with, then Choose another app, for the PSD file. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Going to Open with > Choose another app.

And here we see that sure enough, Windows has already set my latest version of Photoshop as the default app for opening PSD files. If your system is showing something other than Photoshop, or an older version of Photoshop, just choose Always use this app to open .psd files from the bottom of the dialog box, then select your latest version of Photoshop from the list and click OK:

Photoshop should automatically be the default app for opening PSD files. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
Photoshop should already be set as the default app for opening PSD files.

Since there's nothing I need to change, I'll click OK to close out of the dialog box, at which point the PSD file opens in my latest version of Photoshop, as will all PSD files in the future (performer photo from Adobe Stock):

Photoshop should automatically be the default app for opening PSD files. Image © 2016 Photoshop Essentials.com
The PSD file in Photoshop. Credit: Adobe Stock.

And there we have it! That's how to easily make Adobe Photoshop your default image viewer and editor for common file formats like JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and PSD, in Windows 10!

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