How to change the default apps on a Mac

When you first get a Mac, you’ll find Apple has set all of the default apps for common file types: Safari for websites, Preview for pictures, etc. In most cases, these are fine, and you’ll be happy enough using them. But what if you want to change the default apps on your Mac to something different?

Fortunately, it’s easy enough to do. There are, however, a few different ways of doing it depending on what file type you want to open. We’ll cover everything below, so let’s get stuck in.

Change the default app for specific file types

Unless you’re looking to change your default web browser or email client (which we’ll cover below), there’s only one method you need to remember when it comes to changing your default apps on a Mac.

Let’s say you have an .RTF file and want to change which app it opens in. By default, your Mac will open it with TextEdit, Apple’s built-in simple text-editing app. To change that, Ctrl+click the file in question, then click Get Info.

This will bring up a new window. Here, head to the Open with section and choose your new app from the drop-down list, then click Change All. Next time you go to open a file with the same extension, it will open with your new default app.

Change your default web browser

Safari is Apple’s own web browser, and it’s set as the default browser on your Mac by default. Given that it’s made by Apple, it should be no surprise that it puts a strong emphasis on privacy. But we’ve found that it’s a fair amount slower than some of its rivals, and you may have a particular web browser you want to replace it with.

To change the default web browser on your Mac, open System Preferences, then click General in the top-left corner of the window. About halfway down you’ll see an entry marked Default web browser; click the drop-down arrow and choose an alternative.

And that’s it! You new choice will now be set as the default whenever you click a link, for example in an email sent from a friend.

Change your default email app

Speaking of email, you can change your default email app with ease on your Mac. To do so, open Apple’s Mail app. In the menu bar at the top of the screen, click Mail > Preferences. At the top of the General tab you’ll see an entry marked Default email reader; here, click the drop-down arrow, then choose an alternative app.

If you’re on the lookout for a shiny new email app, we’ve rounded up your best options, so you won’t be stuck for an alternative to Mail.