Force Preview to Open an Image File on Mac

Feb 24, 2010 - 1 Comment

Preview icon in Mac OS X

Preview is one of my favorite Mac apps, but recently Preview.app was refusing to open some image files for what seemed like no reason. I wasn’t even able to drag the image file onto the Preview icon to open it, which is usually something that works if the Open menu doesn’t. I know the images are fine because they open fine in other Mac apps, in Windows, and even in Photoshop, suggesting Preview is just acting weird and needs a little kick in the pants to get working, and this is just the trick to do that…


How can you force Preview to open the images if the app doesn’t want to? The answer is pretty easy really: hold down Command+Option keys while dragging a file onto the Preview icon, this will force any file to open through Preview (you could force a text file into preview if you wanted with this, but obviously preview will only render compatible files).

You can do the Command+Option+Drag trick onto the icon in the Finder or in the Dock:

Preview on  Mac

Using this method, the images worked fine, I was able to re-save them, and now they’re back to opening in Preview as usual. I’m not sure what the cause of this problem is, perhaps the image EXIF or meta data was corrupted. I remembered this trick from a post a few years back by our very own David Mendez, about how to force open a file in Mac OS X, and this trick actually will work with nearly every application and file type. So if you want to force an image file into TextWrangler, you could do that too if you really wanted to (not that it’d do much).

To get the most use out of this trick, be sure to use a generally appropriate file type for the application you’re trying to force it to open through. Pictures, PDF files, and images with Preview, text documents with TextEdit, code, SQL, and other text type documents with TextWrangler, etc. You get the idea.

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Posted by: William Pearson in Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

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  1. [...] iPad templates. If you’re having difficulties or want to try on an older version of OS X, try forcing Preview to open the file by holding down the command+option keys while dragging the .key document onto the Preview apps icon [...]

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