Windows 10: Default apps always change and/or reset (many usual solutions tried)

  1.    08 Jun 2017 #1

    Default apps always change and/or reset (many usual solutions tried)

    Running Windows 10, creators update, so version 1703 and build 15063.332. The update history shows KB4020821 installed back in May, and KB4020102 installed this month. Also some "Click-to-Run Update Support" was installed this month, and the malicious software removal tool was installed last month.

    For the past two weeks or so, I've had the same problem that many have had. The default apps for pdf, epub, html, mp3, avi, mp4, and so on, get reset. Html and epub are always going to Edge, the others go to the programs MS has deemed appropriate (Outlook 2010 changes to Mail and so on). This seems to always happen when I reboot, but sometimes occurs after several hours of using the computer, without any specific trigger. Sometimes the "App default was reset" messages appear, sometimes not.

    I've tried to switch back to the software I normally use (the latest AcdSee for pictures, WMP or MPC-HC for media, Firefox or IE for Internet, Sumatra or Adobe Reader for PDF) using all the methods, from changing them from Email/Maps/Music Player/Photo Viewer etc. to changing them from "choose defaults by file type", "set defaults by app", or by right-clicking a file and choosing the program that way.

    I tried the registry hack from 2016, which didn't help. Then I tried the Powershell commands, removing some of the default apps. Now Groove no longer hijacks the mp3-files, but the mp3-files don't stay associated to WMP or MPC-HC, either. They go from WMP to "unknown". I have no old versions of WinZip or nothing like that (an old WinZip was often mentioned as the source of the problem), and haven't had problems before. I just suddenly got a bunch of "App default was reset" messages, and it's been fun ever since. I have McAfee Total Protection and WinPatrol running in the background, but disabling those didn't help. I'm the only user of this desktop computer, and don't use Microsoft account to login. The "email, calendar and contacts" have one MS Account with my e-mail on it, no other accounts there.

    I don't know what to try anymore. Are there any programs or solutions that would save the default apps once I have put them how I want them, and could then revert the changes Windows makes? Or are there some other things I could try? I have naturally scanned the computer for malware using several different software, used "sfc /scannow" to check for file integrity, and so on. It just seems that the apps always reset to MS defaults (or to "unknown", if the default software is not available) during a reboot, and often after using the computer for a few hours. As someone who does a bit of photo and video editing and often has to click on web and mailto-links, this is a real pain. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  2.    09 Jun 2017 #2

    Hi, I think this will export and import associations
    Export and Import Default App Associations for New Users in Windows Windows 10 Installation Upgrade Tutorials

    My guess would have to be something you have installed is doing this. I've never seen it happen- but as you say, a number have. It may be a Windows weakness or susceptibility to incompatible programs, but it's not something intrinsically wrong with Windows. (Though there are some things that are!).

    You have several possible approaches that I can think of, two of which are not so straightforward.
    1. Research possible solutions - including this forum. You've done some of that.
    2. Monitor an association and detect the cause of change.

    Two possible programs:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    (Note- I've never used this, so can't advise)

    MS Sysinternals Procmon

    This produces a filterable capture of every event on your PC.
    Once you are aware of an association having been changed you can look through the (very long/technical) capture list and try to identify the cause.

    3. A process of elimination

    4. Try changing a susceptible association. Verify the change has occurred.
    Log off, log on.
    Check whether it has changed.
    Then try a restart
    Check whether it has changed.

    If it has been, then repeat the above after a clean boot.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  3.    09 Jun 2017 #3

    Thanks for the reply. I have tried to uninstall pretty much every software there is, including McAfee and AcdSee, but no use. Sometimes WMP stays as the media player, but the browser still always changes to Edge and Outlook always changes to Mail.

    I used msconfig to disable all startup items, and several services, rebooted, and the change still occurred. Then I rebooted to Safe Mode, switched the app defaults, and rebooted again to Safe Mode, and even then Edge and Mail became the default apps. I tried that about a dozen times (rebooting and staying in safe mode), and that happened each and every time. WMP sometimes stayed as the default player, sometimes it asked me to choose an app. AcdSee or Affinity didn't stay as picture viewers. Sometimes Windows Photo Viewer became the default, sometimes it asked be to choose a default. PDF also always switched to Edge, regardless of what PDF viewer is installed.

    As you said, this is something that seems to occur with certain configurations and with certain updates. With me, the problems have occurred just these past weeks, but some have been searching for a solution for well over a year. I tried a program called SysTracer, took a snapshot, rebooted, took another snapshot, compared the two, and got a 1126 page pdf which I can't understand anything of. Well, there are parts like these:

    REG_SZ LZrlGW0IPSQ= old
    REG_SZ NA4sBsCg4vo= new
    REG_SZ ACDSee Ultimate 10.png old
    REG_SZ AppX43hnxtbyyps62jhe9sqpdzxn1790zetc new

    The "AppX43hnxtbyyps62jhe9sqpdzxn1790zetc" is apparently Photos, so I know something is resetting the defaults, but what? No idea. If I uninstall ACDSee and replace it with some other image viewer, it just changes the "old" values. I'll try SysInternals ProcMon next.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  4.    10 Jun 2017 #4

    SpymeTools (assuming it works) should give a precise focussed indication.

    However, if the change in association occurs on boot, of course none of the tools I mentioned will be running..

    I would suggest that you create a new user for test purposes, and see if the change occurs for that user.
      My ComputerSystem Spec


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