How to Set and Change Default Apps on Mac


Changing the default apps on a Mac is a great way to make your workflow more productive and your computer more personalized. You may want to change them if you’ve downloaded third-party apps that you find more useful because they provide more features.

In this article, we’ll show you how to change the default apps so you can quickly access any file using a third-party app.


What are Default Apps for Macs?​

A default app is one that opens when you double-click on a file. In most cases, your Mac default apps will be stock apps such as Safari, QuickTime Player, Finder, or Mail. For example, when you double-click on a video, it’ll open in QuickTime.

You can check the default app of any file by right-clicking (or secondary clicking) on it and then selecting Get Info

The default app will be listed under “Open with.” To temporarily change it, just click on the drop-down list and choose the new app. We’ve explained this in more detail below.

The “Get info” menu on Mac

How to Set Default Apps on Mac for Opening Certain File Types​

You’ll have to use the method mentioned above every time you want to open a file using a different app.

Now all files that have the same extension will open with the new default app every time you double-click on them.

To change the default app for file type permanently, follow the steps below:

  1. Right-click on your file and click on Get Info
A pop-up menu after the right-click on a file

2. Under the “Open with” section, click on the drop-down list and select the app with which you want to open the file. 

3. Click on Change All.

“Change all” button

4. A confirmation box will pop up. Click on Continue.

The confirmation box

How to Change Default Apps on Mac for a File Type​

There are two methods you can use to change the default programs on your Mac for any file type. You can either use the “Get Info” option or change it by simply opening it with another app.

Here’s how you can change the default program to open files using the first method:​

1. Right-click or Control-click on the file and choose Get Info.
2. Click on the default app under “Open with,” and choose the new app.
3. You may not always see the app you want to assign to the file type in the drop-down list. In that case, choose Other.

4. In the field next to “Enable,” choose Recommended Applications so you only see apps that support the file type.

“Enable” field options
5. Click on Add.
Enable Recommended Applications
6. Back on the Get Info window, select Change All so that all files of the same type open with your chosen app.

The other method involves choosing a different app in the “Open With” section. Here’s what you have to do:​​

1. Right-click on a file.
2. Click on Open With.
3. You’ll be able to see a list of apps with which you can open the file.
The “Open with” options
4. If the app you want to open the file with doesn’t appear on the list, click on Other.
5. Search for the app in the Applications folder. Highlight it and click on Open. Make sure the “Always Open With” box is ticked.
The “Always Open With” box

You can easily reverse these changes. Here’s how to reset default apps on Mac:​

1. Open the “Get Info” window of any file.
2. Click on the drop-down list under “Open With.”
3. Choose the previous default app.
4. Click on Change All and then Continue to apply the change.

One-Time File Opening Using Certain Software​

You may want to open a file type with another app only once so that it doesn’t always open with the same app. There are 4 ways to achieve this:

1. Control-click on the file and choose Open With. Click on the app with which you want to open it.
2. Drag the file and drop it over your preferred app in the Dock.
3. Open the file directly through the app by selecting File > Open in the menu bar when the app is open.
Finder Application is opened
4. Highlight the file in the Finders application, and then select the app from the menu bar by going to File > Open With.
A file is highlighted in the Finder app

How to Change Your Default Mac Video Player​

You can change the default video player in macOS if you don’t like QuickTime Player. This is especially useful if you have certain video file formats that don’t work with the default software.

We recommend using Elmedia Player because it supports a wide variety of video formats and is incredibly user-friendly.

Note that switching the default media player for a specific format won’t change it for other formats as well. For example, if you set Elmedia as the default player for an AVI video, other formats, such as MP4 or MKV, will continue to open with QuickTime Player.

Here’s how you can change the default Mac video player:​​

1. Control-click on the video whose default media player you want to change.
2. Select Get Info.
3. In the “Open With” section, choose Elmedia Player in the drop-down list.
“Get info” menu of a video file
4. Hit the Change All button to ensure all other videos that have the same file format open with Elmedia as well. Click on Continue to confirm the changes.
“Open with” Elmedia Player is set
5. If you only want a single video to open with a different media player, control-click on it and click on Open With.
“Open With” option
6. Choose Elmedia Player. This won’t affect other videos, even if they have the same format.

How to Change the Default Mac Finder​

You can also change the default file manager. A better alternative to Finder is Commander One. Not only is it great for organizing your applications and files, but it’s also a solid option for FTP on Mac.

Here’s how you can change the default Mac Finder:

1. Download Commander One from its official site.
2. Copy it to the Applications folder to install it.
3. Launch Commander One and add its icon to the Dock so you can quickly access it.
Commander One’s icon
4. Note that if you have any folders on your desktop, they’ll still open in Finder. To open them in Commander One, control-click on the folder and select Show in Commander One.
“Show in Commander One” option

How to Set or Change the Default Web Browser

You can use many browsers as the default for opening web pages and other files. Most of them ask you to set them as such during installation. 

Don’t worry if you said no when installing because it takes only a few minutes to change your default browser from Safari to another one:

  1. Open the browser you want to set as the default one. For this guide, we’re going to use Google Chrome.
2. Click on the three vertical dots in the top-right corner and select Settings.
Menu in the Google Chrome
3. Click on Default browser in the sidebar.
Settings menu in Chrome
4. Click on Make default to set Chrome as your default browser.
The “Default browser” menu in Chrome

Other browsers will have similar settings that you can configure to set them as the default one.

Another way to change the default browser on your Mac is through the system settings

1. Open System Settings (or System Preferences if you’re on an older version of macOS). 
2. Click on Desktop and Dock (or General).
3. In the drop-down list next to “Default web browser,” select a browser.
“General” menu in the System Settings

How to Set or Change the Default Mail Client​​

The default email app on Mac is called Mail and while it does a pretty good job of showing you your emails, most Mac users will agree that there are other better apps out there.

To change default app for emails, follow the steps below:​

1. Open the Mail app.
2. In the menu bar, go to Mail > Preferences.
3. Click on the drop-down list next to “Default email reader.”
The Mail app’s Preferences
4. Choose your new default email app.


Setting new default applications on Mac is a straightforward process and can easily be done in a matter of seconds. You may prefer to set third-party apps as the default apps because they offer more features.

QuickTime, for example, doesn’t support many video formats. By switching your default media player to Elmedia, you can open your favorite videos without adjusting the settings every time.

All in all, if you set a default app for file type, you can quickly open it with the new app and improve your overall user experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can see all your installed apps by opening the Launchpad. Click on Launchpad’s icon in the Dock to open it. Your apps are also stored in the Applications folder, which you can access through the Finder app.

To manage default apps on Mac, follow the steps below:

  1. Open Finder and control-click on a file.
  2. Select Get Info.
  3. Click on the drop-down list under “Open with,” and choose the new app.
  4. Click on Change All and then confirm your choice by selecting Continue.