Make Your Mac Always Open Files with the Program You Want

always open with
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How do you force OS X to use the app that you want to open different files? For example, you may have two or three different word processing type program, but you really want to use Preview to open document attachments that people send you in email. Your Mac may default to an app pre-defined by OS X, or you may have a program that is checked as the ‘default’ in the program settings. So how do you change that behavior?

Like so many other things Mac-related (and in life) it’s actually pretty easy – once you know how.

First, go to the file that you want to associate with being opened with a particular app by default. In our example we are using an email attachment (to show you the extra step), but this method will work for any file anywhere on your computer.

Document attachment in an email
document file attachment in email

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Drag the file out to either your desktop, or some other folder (remember, this also works for files that are already on your computer and not in email):


file attachment on desktop

Hover over the file and control-click (right-click if you have a mouse) to reveal the options:

hover over file right click

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Click on “Open with…”


right click file open with


This gives you a dropdown menu of options:


file open with drop down menu list of programs apps


Click on “Other” (even if you see the program you want listed – this is very important!)


how to have mac open files with particular program


This will give you a list of your applications, from which you can select the application you want to open that particular file (stay with us here):


choose application to open file


After you select the application, in our case Preview, go to the bottom of that screen and check “Always Open With”:


assign program to always open file type


And then click “Open”.


always open with


Now (in our example) Preview has been assigned as the default application with which to open all .doc files. If you ever need to override your default, you can do these exact same steps to select a different program with which to open your file, but if you need to select “Other”, just don’t check “Always Open With”.

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