Make Photoshop Your Default Image Editor In Windows 10
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.
This is lesson 1 of 10 in Chapter 2 - Opening Images into Photoshop. Let's get started!
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:
To turn on the file extensions, click the View menu at the top of the File Explorer window:
Then select File name extensions in the menu by clicking inside its checkbox:
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:
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:
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):
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:
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:
Choose Open with from the menu that appears, and then select 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:
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:
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:
If you don't see Photoshop in the initial list, scroll down to the bottom of the list and choose More apps:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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"):
I'll select Open with from the menu, then I'll select Choose another app:
And here we see that once again, Photos, not Photoshop, is currently the default app for opening PNG files:
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:
The PNG file opens in Photoshop, and so will every PNG file opened from File Explorer in the future (butterfly design from Adobe Stock):
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"):
Just as I did with the JPEG and PNG files, I'll choose Open with from the menu, and 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:
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:
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):
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"):
I'll choose Open with, then 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:
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):
Where to go next...
And there we have it! That's how to easily make Adobe Photoshop your default image editor in Windows 10! In the next lesson in this chapter, we'll learn how to set Photoshop as your default image editor in Mac OS X.
Or check out any of the other lessons in this chapter:
- 03. How to create a new document in Photoshop
- 04. How to open images in Photoshop
- 05. How to open images into Photoshop from Adobe Bridge
- 06. How to change File Type Associations in Adobe Bridge
- 07. How to open images into Camera Raw
- 08. How to move raw files from Lightroom to Photoshop
- 09. How to move JPEG images from Lightroom to Photoshop
- 10. How to close images in Photoshop
For more chapters and for our latest tutorials, visit our Photoshop Basics section!