Force Default Apps/Programs in Windows 10 Via GPO

You can force default apps/programs in Windows 10 via GPO quite easily – something that hasn’t been quite as straight forward in other versions of Windows.

This is a blessing (especially in education), with the introduction of “Modern Apps” like Edge that refuse to work correctly with many modern sites / applications, never mind the apps we still use in many schools that haven’t been updated since 1995 (no exaggeration).

So it’s simple – just follow the below steps to get this setup:

  1. On a test / build PC (preferably with the same version of Windows 10 as your clients. This isn’t a necessity, but in my own testing, this gives the best results) set the default apps you require… Be aware this will export all default apps, so take care with what you set*.
  2. Next, run command prompt as administrator (right click, run as administrator) and run the following command:
    Dism /Online /Export-DefaultAppAssociations:c:\defaultassociations.xml

    Where C:\defaultassociations.xml is the path and file name you want the xml config file to be save to.

  3. Copy the xml to a central location, (for example the root folder of your shared start menus or other config share you use.)
  4. Now open Group Policy editor on your server and edit the policy you want to apply this setting to, then go to the:
    Administrative Templates\Windows Components\File Explorer\Set a default associations configuration file.
  5. Finally, Click Enabled, and then in the Options area, type the location to your default associations configuration file.

For more details on import / exporting the Default Apps Associations view the Microsoft Technet Article or for more info on setting Default Apps Associations via GPO see the Microsoft Technet Article.


As is always advisable, be sure to test the policy on one or two users before deploying to all users.

* If you don’t want all the exported associations, you can modify the xml with an xml text editor (such as Sublime) and remove the associations from the file.

2 comments on Force Default Apps/Programs in Windows 10 Via GPO

  1. Bummer, the “Set a default associations configuration file” setting is missing from version 1803. This worked with the local group policy though.

    1. Hi Tracy, only just spotted your comment, however having checked my 1803 Server16 install I seem to have that option… Are you applying this to Computer Policies, as I don’t believe it’s available as a User Policy.

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