Changing the default app used to open tel: links on Windows

This content is 9 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Earlier this morning I had a missed call notification in Outlook. I clicked the number, Windows asked me which app I wanted to open that type of link (a tel: URI) and I clicked the wrong option. All of a sudden I had phone numbers opening in the Skype Windows 8 app rather than in my Skype for Business client (previously the Lync client).

It turns out that it’s a relatively simple change to make but it’s not necessarily obvious that the UI to do this is the one to change file type associations (this is a link, not a file…).

  1. In Control Panel go to Default Programs and then Set Default Programs (the quickest way is to hit the Windows key and type “Default Programs“).
  2. Scroll down to Lync (desktop). Despite the name, this is the Skype for Business desktop client.
  3. Select Lync (desktop) and click Chose defaults for this program:
  4. You’ll see that the URL:Tel Protocol entry is not checked, because it’s associated with Skype:
  5. Select the Checkbox next to TEL and click Save:
  6. If you look at the Skype program associations, TEL will now be showing as defaulting to Skype for Business (desktop):

There’s more information in Paul Thurrott’s Windows 8 Tip on Changing File Associations.

10 thoughts on “Changing the default app used to open tel: links on Windows

  1. Thanks to everyone who is flagging this doesn’t work for newer versions of Windows. Time (and technology) stands still for no man. This is a pretty old blog post now though…

  2. Updated only because this blog came top of my search results

    1. In the start bar type ‘default apps’ and launch it
    2. Scroll down and click on ‘choose default applications by protocol’
    3. Scroll down until you find ‘Tel (URL:tel)’ and change the default app to whatever you want. i.e. MS Teams
    (Win10 Enterprise 22H2)

  3. Thanks for this. The original post is now 9 years old so surprised it’s coming so highly in search results but good to have a modern solution!

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