How to Change the Default Application Used to Open a File

Have you wanted to change your Mac’s behavior so Apple’s Preview is used, rather than Adobe Reader to open all .pdf files? You can control which application is used to open any given file type such as .xls, .doc, .jpg, .tiff, or .awk files.

In this example, we’ll configure a Mac to use Apple’s Preview as the default application to open all .pdf files.

  • Locate a .pdf file on your Mac.
  • Click once on this .pdf file to select it.
  • Click on the File menu and select Get Info.
  • In the Get Info window which appears, locate the “Open With” section. Click once on the triangle to the left of “Open With” if the section is not already expanded and visible.
  • You ‘ll see the current default application listed. Click on this application’s name and select Preview from the list. If you don’t see your desired application, scroll to the bottom of the list and select “Other” then browse your Mac’s hard drive to select your desired application.
  • Click the “Change All” button that appears below this list.
  • You’ll be asked if you really want to make this change. Click “yes” you do want to make this change.
  • Close the Get Info window.

That’s it! You’ve now configured your Mac to use Apple’s Preview as the default application to open all .pdf files.

Every so often, you might want to override the default behavior. For example, you might want to use Adobe Reader to open a particular .pdf file. To do this, click on the particular .pdf file. Drag it and drop it onto the application icon for Adobe Reader. It’s easiest to do this if you’ve already added Adobe Reader to your Dock. To do this, go to your Application folder, locate the application named Adobe Reader and drag it to the Dock. This will permanently add it to your Dock.

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