Easily Set File Association in Mac OS X Using “Always Open With” App
Setting and changing file type associations – that is, the application that launches by default when a file icon is double-clicked or otherwise opened – is extraordinarily simple in Mac OS X.
All you need to do is follow a few quick steps, starting off in the OS X Finder:
- Right-click on any file that you want to associate with an application
- Hold down the “Option” key to show the “Always Open With” menu
- Choose the application to associate that file type with
Note that if you don’t have the right-click configured on the Mac, you can also use a two-fingered tap on a trackpad to mimic the right-click, or you can hold down the Control key to mimic the alternate click.
This sets a semi-permanent association between the chosen app and the file type, and the file-to-app association will remain unless something else either overrides it during installation, which can be fairly common with some applications, or unless you change it again yourself. Keep in mind that if you do want to change the file association again, all you need to do is Option+Right-Click on another sample of that file type and choose another app with the “Always” option.
Longtime Mac users may also be familiar with the other way to do this through the “Get Info” menu, which can work for both a one time use association for that specific file, or once within the Get Info window, by hitting the “Change All” button for that file type, to reassign all files of that format to the chosen application. For most cases, the option-right click method is much faster though, and it’s also easier to explain to newcomers, and all around more user friendly since it’s accessible from anywhere in Finder without having to launch a new window.
This ability has been around for a very long time in OS X, and you should find it in everything from the earliest releases of Mac OS through 10.1 all the way through OS X Lion and Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, and beyond.