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Lesson 10: Opening Files with Different Applications

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Opening files with different applications

When you open a file in macOS, it will usually open in the default application for that type of file. For example, a photo will open in Preview. But you may not always want this. In this lesson, we'll show you how to open a file in a different application, as well as how to change the default application so a file will always open in your preferred program.

Opening a file in the default application

As you learned in our lesson on working with files, you can locate and double-click a file to open it. It will open in the default application for that type of file.

screenshot of double-clicking on a file to open it

To open a file in a different application:

Sometimes you may want to open a file in a different application without changing the default. For example, you may want to open a photo with Adobe Photoshop to crop or resize it.

  1. Locate and right-click the desired file. From the drop-down menu, select Open With and choose the desired application. In this example, we'll select Adobe Photoshop Elements Editor.
    screenshot of using Open With to select a different application to open a certain file
  2. The file will open in the selected application.
    screenshot of a file opened in Photoshop

To change the default application:

You may prefer to change the default application for certain types of files so they'll always open in the new app when you double-click them. For example, you may want your photos to always open in Adobe Photoshop instead of the Preview application.

  1. Locate and right-click the desired file, then select Get Info from the menu that appears. You can also select the file and press Command+I on your keyboard.
    screenshot of right-clicking on a file and selecting Get Info
  2. A dialog box will appear. Under Open with, click the drop-down menu and select the desired application. In our example, we'll select Adobe Photoshop Elements Editor.
    screenshot of selecting Adobe Photoshop from the Open with... menu


  3. Click Change All.
    screenshot of clicking Change All
  4. A dialog box will appear confirming that you want to change the default application for all files of this file type. Click Continue.
    screenshot of clicking Continue to change the default application for a file type
  5. The default application will be changed. The next time you double-click a file of that type, it will open in the new default application.
    screenshot of a default program having been changed

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