Make Windows Media Player the default audio player in Windows 8

If you're spending most of your time in Desktop mode, you might not want Microsoft's Music app to be the system's go-to player.

Like many Windows 8 users, I spend most of my time using Desktop mode, which affords me a more Windows 7-like experience.

However, every so often the OS kicks me into an app that I don't especially like or want to use. For example, my home-phone service (Ooma) delivers voice-mail messages to me as MP3 email attachments. When I open one, it fires up Microsoft's Music app, which inconveniently bounces me out of Desktop mode.

And, needless to say, if I want to listen to a song from my collection, double-clicking it produces the same result: the Music app.

I want audio files to open in the same place they did in Windows 7: Windows Media Player. Fortunately, that program is still around in Windows 8; it's just a matter of modifying a setting so it becomes the default. Here's how:

1. If you're in the Start screen, type default, then click Default Programs when it appears on the left side of the screen. If you're already in Desktop mode, open up Control Panel, then click Default Programs.

2. Click Set your default programs, then wait for the list of installed programs to populate.

3. Scroll the list until you find Windows Media Player, then click to select it.

4. Now you have two choices. You can make WMP the default player for just about every kind of media that supports it--music, videos, etc.--or you can pick individual file types to associate with it. Enable the former by clicking Set this program as default, the latter by Choose defaults for this program. I went with the first option.

5. When you're done, click OK.

Now, whenever I open an MP3 file or video or whatever, it'll appear in Windows Media Player, which is just how I like it. What's your preference for listening to audio in Windows 8?

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at hasslefree@pcworld.com, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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Rick Broida

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