Ask OS X Daily: How Do I Force Open a File?

May 22, 2007 - 4 Comments

Reader Mathew Prairen asks a common question about opening files that has a remarkably simple answer:

“I have a few image files from my PC that Preview refuses to open, is there any way I can force Preview to open these images?”

If you want to force open any file with virtually any program, simply hold down the Command+Option keys while dragging the file onto the applications icon.

Whatever the application is will attempt to open whatever the file is. In some situations this will work just fine, forcing many image editors to open other image files generally works, as does text files into text editors, but attempting to force an image editor to load your perl script probably won’t work. Basically there is no guarantee the program will like the file you are forcing it to open, but it will try anyway, and this can lead to some unusual results or the display of nonsensical characters, or even an error message indicating from the application that the file type is invalid. Due to this, if you’re going to attempt to force an application to open a file, try to stick within the general genre of that which the originating file came from.

Updated: 1/29/2012 – this is confirmed to work with Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

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Posted by: David Mendez in Ask OS X Daily, How to, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Weaver says:

    I just double click the file if I want to open it, call me old fashioned

  2. anon says:

    Can’t you just use:

    open -a SomeApp somepeskyunassociatedfile


  3. [...] was corrupted. I remembered this trick from a post a few years back by our very own David Mendez, how to force open a file in Mac OS X, and this actually will work with nearly every application and file, so if you want to force an [...]

  4. [...] with OpenSSL without entering the password? You’ll probably get an error message, but if you force open the file with something like TextEdit, you’ll see the text “Salted” followed by a [...]

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