Mac assigns a default application to open each file type. For example, all HTML webpages will open with Safari browser when you double click on them. However, you may be using different applications like Google Chrome and want to open webpages with Chrome browser. In such a case, it will be annoying to use the default app and in this article we will explain how to change default app to open files in Mac.
Use Open With from Context Menu
The first option to open a file with different application is to use the “Open with” option in the context menu.
- Find the file you want to open and right click on it. If you are not using right click on your touchpad, hold the control key and click on the touchpad to open the context menu.
- Choose “Open With” option to see the list of available apps to open the selected file.
- Click on the app you from the list and open the file with that app.
- As you can see, Mac will show you the default app and options to find an app from App Store.
This is an easy option when you want to open a file with different app other than the default app for one time. For example, you can open a text file in Pages app instead of the default TextEdit using open with option.
Permanently Changing Default App to Open Files
When you have multiple applications for opening the same file type, it make sense to fix the file association permanently. You can do this in two different ways on your Mac.
- When you choose “Open With” from context menu, click on “Other…” that shows as a last option.
- This will open Applications folder in a pop-up and show the recommended apps available for opening the selected file.
- Mac will disable all not recommended apps for opening the file.
- Select your app and then click on the “Always Open With” checkbox that shows below the “Enable” option.
- There will be no warning and your file will open with the selected app.
- If you do not find your favorite app, click on the dropdown against “Enable” and select “All Applications”. This will make all the installed apps in “Applications” folder available for selection.
Remember, though this will help you to open the files with the selected app, it will not change the default app. You can right click on the file and check in the “Open With” menu to see the default app is same as Mac default and not the one you selected.
Permanently Changing the Default App
This is a permanent and correct ways of changing the default app to open files in Mac.
- Right click on the file or control + click to open the context menu.
- Select “Get Info” option to open the properties dialog box.
- You will see the default app under “Open with:” section.
- Click on the dropdown and select your favorite app to open the file.
- After selecting the app, click on “Change All…” button.
- Now, Mac will show you a prompt informing the changes will apply to all documents with the selected file extension.
- Click “Continue” to confirm the change and open the file in the selected app.
- You can right click on the file and check “Open with” options to see the default app will showing the app you have selected.
Related: How to hide and view files in Mac?
What is the Difference?
Do not get confused with “Always Open With” and “Default” assignment. Let’s say, you have selected Google Chrome as “Always Open With” app for opening .html files. However, Safari is the default browser in Mac and here is how it will work if you did not change the “Open with” app in file properties.
- When you double click on a .html file, it will open with Google Chrome.
- Clicking on a link when you received in your email or Messages app will open the webpage in Safari browser.
Note that some applications like FTP software allow you to choose default apps. This is a required option to avoid opening HTML files in Safari for editing instead of the text editor app you use.
Change Default Browser
Mac also allows you to setup default browser to open webpages. This will be an alternate option instead of setting up “Open with:” from “Get Info” dialog box.
- Click on the Apple logo menu showing on the top left corner of the top menu bar. Select “System Preferences…” menu from the dropdown.
- Click on “General” option and select your browser under “Default Browser” section.
Files with No App Association
System files and unknown extensions will not have any app association in Mac. When you try to open such a file, Mac will show you a message like below and offer options to choose application.
You can select any app from your Applications folder to create the association with the file.
After you open the file, Mac will automatically assign the app to open all files with the same extension. However, here you will not have “Always Open With” option when choosing the app.
When you change default app to open files in Mac, sometimes you will see warnings about the file is from unidentified developer. You will not be able to access the file with any of the apps on your Mac. In this case, you have to follow the above steps and properly change the default app.
You will also see warnings about malware when changing file associations in Mac. In this case, you can continue to open the file with the selected app to ignore the warning. We recommend you to setup the default app properly so that the malware warning will not appear again.
Note: Unlike Windows OS, Mac will not change the file icon when you change the default app association.