How to change default applications on Mac

macOS and other operating systems usually have a set of default applications; so when you download a Word Document for example, it will open in Pages, unless Word or another application is already set as the default. 

Thankfully, if you did want to change the default programs on Mac, you can do that in a handful of ways. In this article, we look at how to change Mac default programs, and how to find hidden applications. 

How to change default applications? 

Firstly, let’s explore how you do this for specific file types. 

  1. Select a file, say a photo with a .jpg extension. 
  2. Right-click on any file with that extension 
  3. Now click on Get Info which should display a pop-up or dropdown with more information about that file; 
  4. Within that is an option called Open With; 
  5. A dropdown will appear when clicked, giving you a rage of apps that can open the file instead of the usual one it would select; 
  6. Pick an app - for images, you could select Adobe PhotoShop (providing have that on your Mac); 
  7. Now click Change All
  8. That will change the default setting to how files with that file type are opened from now on; 
  9. You can always change these settings when you want to revert back to a new option 

Are there other default settings that can be changed in macOS or Mac OS X? 

Yes, there are, and here is how you change them. 

Change default Mac web browser 

In most cases, macOS sets the default browser as Safari. If you want, this can be changed. 

  1. Launch System Preferences either from the Dock or click on the  button
  2. Click General in the top-left of the window 
  3. Now click on the dropdown next to Default Web Browser
  4. Pick on the right one for you - based on the browser options currently available (or download a new one, then select that as the new default browser) 

Change the default Mac email reader 

Another pre-set system you have control over is the email reader application. You can chose something other than Mail. 

  1. Launch Mail from Dock or via Finder 
  2. Now click Mail in the menu bar 
  3. Click on Preferences 
  4. A dropdown should appear next to Default Mail Reader
  5. Now there should be a selection of apps that could be used as a Mail reader instead; 
  6. Select the one you would prefer. 

Beyond the applications you can change, there could be hidden apps and programs that are taking up processing power and space, and memory. It would be useful to be able to find them and remove them if they're slowing your Mac down. 

How to find hidden applications? 

Not every app is visible. Some work in the background whether you want them to or not. This isn’t ideal, as it takes up processing power that could be used for something else, or would mean that your Mac doesn’t need to work as hard. This could also be a sign of a potential computer infection, such as malware or ransomware. Here is a quick way to check for hidden applications:

  1. Download CleanMyMac X (for free, here)
  2. Use the Uninstaller tool to find everything you have installed on your Mac (or that could have been installed without you realizing); 
  3. Safely delete anything you don't recognize or don't want to keep running; 
  4. You can also use the Extensions tool and Login items to identify apps that run in the background and take up memory and processing power. 
Uninstaller module in CleanMyMacX

For those who want to improve their Mac experience, CleanMyMac X is well worth downloading.  It was created to make your life and work easier, and make your Mac operate as good as new.

Laptop with CleanMyMac
CleanMyMac X

Your Mac. As good as new.