How to Manage File Associations in macOS

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Apr 12, 2001
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In macOS, the Open With contextual menu that appears when you right-click (or Ctrl-click) on a file provides links to all the applications installed on your Mac that are associated with that file type.


At the top of the list is the default app that macOS launches whenever you double-click on files that share the same suffix or extension, with other apps associated with the file type below that, and an Other... option at the bottom which lets you choose an alternative app in case the one you want to use isn't listed.

You can easily change the default app associated with a particular file to something else. To do so, click Get Info in the contextual menu and select another app from the Open With: dropdown list in the file's Info pane. To use that app to open all files sharing the same extension, click the Change All... button and select Continue.

Clearing the Open With Menu

If you've installed a lot of applications on your Mac through the years, you may find that some apps appear in the Open With menu that really have no business being there given the kind of file you've selected.

As well as unrelated apps, you may even see references to "ghost" apps that you removed from your Mac long ago. All of which results in a long and cluttered list of launch service links you won't use.

Unfortunately the list isn't directly editable, but there are a couple of ways that you can clear the cruft from it. One option is to grab Titanium Software's free Onyx system utility and run a task to rebuild the Launch Services database.


Alternatively, if you're comfortable with a command prompt you can open a Terminal window and run the following command, which does the same thing:

/System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user


Leave the command to run for a few minutes while the LaunchServices database rebuilds, and when the prompt reappears type killall Finder and press Enter to see the changes take effect.

Article Link: How to Manage File Associations in macOS
 
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blackxacto

macrumors 6502a
Jun 15, 2009
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Middle TN
I have found, PDFs stored in Mojave Books only open in Preview. File association has no effect on PDFs, unless stored outside Mojave Books.
 
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Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
37,994
4,290
Los Angeles
I use Adobe Photoshop CC (subscription software) but I also keep a copy of Adobe Photoshop CS5 installed, in case my CC service is ever interrupted. I've associated Photoshop CC with my psd files, but sometimes double-clicking a psd file opens Photoshop CS5 instead, even if I associated psd files with Photoshop CC using that very psd file. I've never figured out why this happens.

Maybe Apple should bring back Type codes and Creator codes!
 
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Detektiv-Pinky

macrumors 6502a
Feb 25, 2006
825
158
Berlin, Germany
Fix one thing, break another:
I tried the Terminal command on my High Sierra iMac and now some of my applications have lost their App icon.
They only show a generic app icon.
 

mlody

macrumors 65816
Nov 11, 2012
1,047
663
Windy City
I see a lot of the guides but i cant find them after few days :(. Is there a section on the website where all guides are located???
 

hulabaloo

macrumors newbie
Dec 7, 2008
6
0
Even easier than terminal and killall Finder:

Hold down Option while you right-click on the Finder icon in the dock. The last entry is Relaunch.
 

ignatius345

macrumors 68030
Aug 20, 2015
2,684
3,614
I use Adobe Photoshop CC (subscription software) but I also keep a copy of Adobe Photoshop CS5 installed, in case my CC service is ever interrupted. I've associated Photoshop CC with my psd files, but sometimes double-clicking a psd file opens Photoshop CS5 instead, even if I associated psd files with Photoshop CC using that very psd file. I've never figured out why this happens.

Maybe Apple should bring back Type codes and Creator codes!
I sometimes just take apps I want to keep around but "inactive" and I compress them into a ZIP archive. Would that work for Photoshop CS5?
 

Gravydog316

macrumors 6502
May 17, 2016
424
155
Canada
I use Graphic Converter for image/photos, & all my image files keep opening with Preview, no matter how many times or what app I change my prefs to.
Anyone know how to fix this?
It's really annoying!
 

antgaucho

macrumors newbie
Jun 10, 2020
1
0
Thank you for your post. I'm usually happy opening *.pdf files with the MacOS default program, Preview. By a wide margin my second favorite program for this is LibreOffice (which opens a *.pdf as an editable drawing.). I'd like to be able to select LibreOffice without going through the Open With>Other process, but MacOS doesn't seem to take my Open With history into account when listing the alternate programs. And since this post seems to indicate that there's no hope of editing the Open With list directly, I settled for making LibreOffice the primary program for *.pdf files. This way MacOS's favored Preview does appear high enough on the alternate list that I can use it with a simple Open With (with no further drill-down). It's not ideal, and I would like to read a better solution if anyone posts it.
 

blackxacto

macrumors 6502a
Jun 15, 2009
734
58
Middle TN
Catalina changed the preferences. In Catalina 10.15.4, setting the preferred application works like it once did. I must have worn them out at Apple Feedback, with hundreds of complaints about this. Apple+I, now works for me.
 
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