How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

Microsoft’s default PDF viewer in the Edge browser is frequently updated with new features. However, it is average at best, and many people prefer using a third-party PDF app such as Adobe Acrobat or Foxit to view and edit PDF files on their desktop. You don’t have to open every PDF file in your preferred software from the context menu; you can easily change the default PDF viewer in Windows 11.

How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

There is no lack of skilled PDF readers on Windows. Pick any software as your go-to option to edit PDF files. Sometimes, a specific PDF reader may override your preferred app on Windows. However, you can use the tricks below to revert the change.

1. Change the Default PDF Viewer Using the Windows Settings App

The default Settings on Windows 11 have a dedicated menu for checking and changing default programs, including the PDF viewer. Follow the steps below:

Step 1: Press the Windows + I shortcut to open Settings.

Step 2: Select Apps from the sidebar and choose Default apps from the right pane.

How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

Step 3: Type PDF in the search bar. Select the default app.

How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

Step 4: Check suggested apps and browse more options. Choose your preferred PDF viewer and set it as the default.

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How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

Step 5: Set the app to open other file types. Open a PDF reader app from the list below.

How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

Step 6: Select .PDF from the menu and choose a PDF viewer.

How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

Launch File Explorer on Windows and you will see your default PDF reader icon below the PDF files.

2. Change the Default PDF Viewer in File Explorer

To change the default PDF viewer from the File Explorer menu without going into Settings, follow these steps:

1. Press Windows + E to launch File Explorer.

2. Find a PDF file and right-click on it.

3. Expand Open with and select ‘Choose another app.’

How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

Step 4: Select an app to open a .PDF file and select Always.

How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

File Explorer overrides your selection and launches the PDF files.

You can change the default PDF viewer on Windows by using the Control Panel menu. Despite Microsoft’s improvements with the Settings app, some users still prefer the traditional Control Panel for making adjustments. If you’re one of those users, follow these steps to change the default PDF viewer in the Control Panel.

Step 1: Open the Start menu by clicking the Windows button, then type “Control Panel” in the search box and press Enter.

Step 2: Choose Programs.

How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

Step 3: Select Default Programs.

To select default programs, follow these steps.

1. Open the Control Panel.

2. Click on “Programs”.

3. Click on “Default Programs”.

4. Click on “Set your default programs”.

5. Choose the program you want to set as the default for certain file types or protocols.

6. Click on “Set this program as default” to make it the default program for the selected items.

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7. Click on “Choose defaults for this program” to customize the file types and protocols that the program can open.

8. Click on “Save” to apply the changes.

By following these steps, you can easily select default programs and customize your file associations.

How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

Step 4: It opens the same ‘Default apps’ menu as discussed above. You can follow the same steps to change the default PDF viewer.

How to Stop Windows From Changing Your Default PDF Viewer

Many Windows users have complained about a PDF viewer overriding their preferred software. When you install a third-party PDF viewer, you may see an option to set it as default. You need to uncheck this option to change the PDF viewer and complete the installation.

Outlook users have had issues opening PDF files in Windows default software. Make tweaks in Outlook Settings and try again.

Step 1: Click the Windows button, type Outlook in the search box and hit Enter. Then, click File.

How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

Step 2: Choose Options from the left sidebar.

How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

Step 3: Select Trust Center and open Trust Center Settings.

How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

Step 4: Select Attachment Handling and open Attachment and Document Previewers.

How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

Step 5: Enable the checkmark next to your PDF software and click OK.

How to Change the Default PDF Viewer on Windows 11

Step 6: Select OK to save changes.

From now on, Outlook should preview PDF files in your selected PDF software on Windows.

Google Chrome has a default option to preview downloaded files. To open PDF files in a third-party app like Adobe Reader or Wondershare PDFelement, make changes in Chrome’s settings. Check our post on how to open PDF files in Adobe Reader instead of Google Chrome.

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Manage Your PDF Files Like a Pro

Viewing and editing PDF files in Microsoft Edge can be a cumbersome experience. Use the methods above to set your favorite app as the default PDF viewer. Which PDF app do you use on Windows? Share your preference in the comments below.

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