How to Open a File in Different Apps on Your Mac

How to Open a File in Different Apps on Your Mac

Every file format on your Mac has an app associated with it that it launches when you open that specific type of file. For example, all the image files on your Mac may be set to launch with Preview. When you try to open a file on your Mac, you are actually presented with a couple of options to choose from as to how you would like to open the file. These options are “Open with” and “Always Open With.”

Most Mac users get confused as to how these options differ from each other. Since Apple has added them separately to your context menu, there has to be a reason for that. This way Apple lets you open a file in different apps on your Mac. For instance, a PDF file can be opened and read in both Adobe Reader and Preview, and it is up to you to decide which one you would like to open it with.

In this article we will show you how you can open a file in different apps using Mac’s different options.

Using the “Open With” Menu for Opening a File

When you right-click on a file on your Mac, you see the option “Open With.” The option allows you to select an app other than the default one to launch your file. For instance, the image files usually launch with Preview on your Mac, but if you would like to launch a image in Photoshop, you can do so using the “Open With” option located in the context menu.


When you select this option you can see a bunch of apps that the selected file can be opened with. If you have right-clicked on an image file, you will only see the apps that can access an image file, and so on.

Let’s say you chose to open an image file with Photoshop; it will not open in the same app the next time. It will revert back to its default app to open.

Using the “Always Open With” Menu for Opening a File

The next option available for opening a file is “Always Open With.” As the name implies, it allows you to always open a file in a particular app.


For example, if you have a file named “IMG1.png” on your Mac and would like for that specific file to always launch in Photoshop instead of Preview, you can use the “Always Open With” option.

You can see the “Always Open With” option when you right-click on a file and hold down the Option key on your keyboard.

The option only works for that particular file and not the files that have that specific file extension. As in the above example, not all the PNG format files will launch in Photoshop even though you have selected the “IMG1.png” file to launch with that app.

Using the “Change All” Option for Opening Files

The third option is “Change All.” This option lets you select a default app for the specified file type. For instance, if you would like to open all your PDF files in Adobe Reader instead of Preview, you can use the “Change All” option, and it will always launch all your PDF files in the Adobe Reader app.


The “Change All” option can be accessed by right-clicking on the desired file and selecting “Get Info.” That is where you can set a default app for a specific file type.


If you have been wondering the difference between the various file launching options all this time, the above guide explains them in detail for you.

Mahesh Makvana
Mahesh Makvana

Mahesh Makvana is a freelance tech writer who's written thousands of posts about various tech topics on various sites. He specializes in writing about Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android tech posts. He's been into the field for last eight years and hasn't spent a single day without tinkering around his devices.

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