How to set the default apps in macOS

You may not spend much time thinking about the default apps you’ve got set up on macOS until they suddenly get configured the wrong way — and you find that, say, the app that pops up when you click on an image file is not the one you want to use. 

Out of the box, your Mac will use Apple’s own tools for most tasks: click on a web link in Mail and you’ll see Safari, for example, or double-click on an image you’ve downloaded to your system and up pops Photos. However, you might want to use different apps, or maybe a freshly installed app has decided to make itself the default and you want to undo the change (web browsers often do this, asking to become the default when they launch for the first time). 

So it’s useful to know how to set the default apps yourself. We’ll go over setting the default apps for specific file types and setting your default browser and email app (which is a slightly different process).

The Open With dialog lets you set default apps.

To set the default app for a particular file type on macOS, first use Finder to find a file in that format:

There’s another way to do this that you can use if you prefer. 

Email apps and web browsers handle links rather than files, so they’re configured differently. One scenario where your default email app kicks in is when you follow an “email me” or “get in contact” link on a website.

Set your default web browser from System Settings.

The change is instantly applied, and the next time you follow a web link (or double-click on an HTML file stored on your system), your chosen browser will appear.

Remember that browsers can also handle a range of file types, including PDF documents and popular image formats, so you can deploy them as basic file viewers, too, if you want.


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