How To Stop Windows 8.1 From Opening Files Full Screen

17 July 2015

With Windows 10 being released soon, this will probably become less of an issue into the future. However Windows 8.1 will be around for some time yet. When Windows 8.1 is first installed or you purchase a new computer the default settings make the ‘Windows 8.1 Screen’ apps open files from your desktop.

For example, if you open a Jpeg picture from your digital camera, or a PDF bill - it opens full screen and you lose access to the desktop and taskbar along the bottom. To regain access you must press the Windows key (on the keyboard) and then click the ‘Desktop’ app on the start screen.

This can be overcome if you set the default programs correctly (why they aren’t the defaults for Windows 8.1 out of the box I’ll never know!)

To do this:
1. Tap the Windows Key/Button to open the start screen > type ‘Control Panel’ > Select ‘Control Panel’ from the list of results
2. When the Control Panel opens, select ‘Set Your Default Programs’
3. When the page loads make the following changes
4. Select ‘Windows Photo Viewer’ then click ‘Set this program as default’ (see screenshot below)
5. Select ‘Windows Media Player’ then click ‘Set this program as default’
6. Select ‘Adobe Reader’ then click ‘Set this program as default’


'Set Default Programs' dialog box in Windows 8.1

You will now find that when you open pictures, music/videos and PDF files they open with the desktop apps – same as they did on Windows 7. This saves the tedious process of having the full screen apps take over each time!

As part of our IT Support we configure this on all new Windows 8.1 PCs and devices as part of our 50-point new device checklist to ensure you are getting the most of your business assets.

If you have any queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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