Change the de­fault apps on a Mac

Mar­tyn Casserly ex­plains how to make files and links au­to­mat­i­cally open in the apps of your choice

Macworld - - Contents -

Macos comes with a plethora of use­ful pre­in­stalled apps, all of which make the Mac ready to go as soon as you take it out of the box. But you don’t have to use these if you don’t want to – in fact there are some great al­ter­na­tives.

While the likes of Mail, itunes, and Sa­fari are set as the de­fault ap­pli­ca­tions on your Mac – mean­ing they launch au­to­mat­i­cally when you open an email, au­dio file or web link – it’s easy to give these du­ties

to other apps of your choos­ing. So read on and we’ll show you a quick and easy way to change the de­fault pro­grams on a Mac.

What are de­fault apps?

Ev­ery time you dou­ble-click a cer­tain type of file, say an MP3 or JPEG, your Mac will au­to­mat­i­cally launch a pre­set ap­pli­ca­tion which you can use to in­ter­act with or edit the con­tent. Gen­er­ally this is help­ful, but some­times you might not want to launch itunes to check a few sec­onds of an au­dio file, or have Pages ap­pear when you want to edit a Word doc­u­ment. In these in­stances you can do one of two things: tem­po­rar­ily change the app that your Mac uses, or make it so that file type is al­ways opened by a dif­fer­ent app. We take you through both ap­proaches be­low.

Tem­po­rar­ily launch a file in a dif­fer­ent app

This is very easy and it won’t change the way your Mac treats files of that type in the fu­ture.

Open the Finder and nav­i­gate to the file you want to use. Right-click on it to bring up the con­tex­tual menu. Here you’ll see the op­tion Open With. High­light this and a list of us­able apps will ap­pear, with the de­fault one at the top. Now sim­ply se­lect the al­ter­na­tive app that you want to use and the file will open in that pro­gram in­stead.

Change the de­fault apps that open files

For a longer-term so­lu­tion you’ll need to go through in­di­vid­ual ap­pli­ca­tions and change them man­u­ally.

Sadly there isn’t a list of de­fault apps any­where that al­lows you to quickly ad­just them en masse, but it doesn’t take long to switch them out for your pre­ferred op­tions. Plus, you can al­ways change them back again af­ter­wards if you find you liked the Ap­ple of­fer­ings more.

The de­fault browser

Sa­fari is the browser of choice on macos, but if you’ve in­stalled Fire­fox, Opera, Chrome, or any other Mac web browsers you’ve prob­a­bly been asked by those new­com­ers to make them the de­fault in­stead.

If you re­sisted those re­quests at the time you can still make the switch now. Open up Sys­tem Pref­er­ences (the grey icon with a gear in­side it) and se­lect Gen­eral. In here you’ll see, about half­way

down the page, a set­ting for the De­fault web browser. Click on the drop-down menu and you’ll see all of the browsers you cur­rently have in­stalled, with the de­fault one marked as such. To set a new one just click on your por­tal of choice.

Email ap­pli­ca­tion

Mail is an old stal­wart, but it lacks some of the cooler fea­tures of mod­ern email clients. To swap these over you’ll need to open the Mail app, click on Mail > Pref­er­ences, then open up the drop­down menu be­side De­fault email reader. In here you’ll see Mail and any other email clients that you have in­stalled. Se­lect the one you want and from now on when­ever you click an email ad­dress to be­gin com­pos­ing a mes­sage, your new de­fault app will open.

De­fault apps as­so­ci­ated with cer­tain file types

If you want to change a de­fault app other than your browser or email client, then you can still do so. Open up Finder, nav­i­gate to the file in ques­tion and right-click it to bring up the con­tex­tual menu. Se­lect Get Info and then from the box that ap­pears you’ll find, about half­way down, the head­ing Open with.

Click this and you’ll see the de­fault app as­so­ci­ated with this file type. Now click on the drop-down menu, se­lect a new de­fault, then click the Choose All but­ton. From now on, all files of that type will open with the de­fault app you se­lected.

In Sys­tem Pref­er­ences you’ll find al­ter­na­tive web browsers to Sa­fari

It’s easy to change the de­fault email client

You can change any de­fault app by se­lect­ing Get Info

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