How to Change the Default Applications on Your Mac Computer

1 in 10 personal computers are Macs. This gives the company control of 10% of the market share. Learning how to use a Mac is essential if you’re part of this statistic.

One time-saving component you need to understand is known as default applications. These are the pre-installed programs that Macs use to complete processes such as browsing the web and opening files.

Changing default applications is a simple process that lets you easily use the programs with the best features every time you use your Mac. Read our guide to find out what applications are set as defaults, how to change them, and what to change them to.

What Are Default Applications?

An application, also known as an app, is a program that performs computing functions. It could open an app, allow you to browse the internet, or perform other functions.

What distinguishes one application from another is its quality and the features it includes. Some are faster than others or provide more ways to help you complete your task.

Knowing what applications are and what they do is only the first step. It’s also important to know which ones come pre-installed on your Mac.

Changing which applications your computer uses begins with knowing which ones it’s set up to use from the beginning. The default applications for Mac and their uses include:

  • Safari the internet browser
  • Mail the email client
  • Preview for viewing PDFs and images
  • QuickTime for videos

Mac computers also come with a wide range of other preinstalled applications, but the ones listed above are the ones you’re most likely to change. Opening files, images, and videos, browsing the internet, and checking mail are the tasks you’ll most likely do the most times in a day.

You need the best possible programs to complete these tasks efficiently. Changing them to a better default option will save you time and headaches in the long run.

How to Change Default Applications

Changing default applications allows you to choose programs with the best features and save time spent moving to different apps. It also makes it easy to move to a better option if a new, higher-quality program comes out in the future.

Remember that permanently changing your default applications makes all files of a certain type or all instances of a particular action open in a specific program. If you don’t want to make such a permanent change, choose Open With to look at a file in a different program instead.

If you do want to create a new default, start by choosing a new one for each task or file type you use.

Changing Your Default File Viewers

To change the default PDF viewer, use the Finder to locate a PDF file and right-click on it. Select Get Info and expand the Open With section. Choose the app you want to use as a PDF viewer, click Change All, and choose Yes when asked if you’re sure. Now every PDF file you view should open in your preferred program.

The same process works for other file types as well. You can set which programs you want to use to open JPGs, text documents, and more.

Changing Your Default Browser

Switching from Safari to another option such as Firefox or Chrome is a simple process. Most browsers ask you if you want to set them as your default the moment you open them.

If using the pop-up doesn’t work, complete a simple process to change your default browser. The steps change depending on your operating system.

If you’re running macOS Maverick or earlier, begin by downloading the operating system you want. When the download is complete, open Safari, click on the menu in the top left, and select Preferences. Go to General and choose the web browser you want to change to. Close Preferences and Safari to complete the change.

If your Mac uses El Capitan or Yosemite, go to System Preferences in the Dock or Finder. Select General and choose the dropdown menu next to the words Default Web Browser. Choose your preferred browser and close System Preferences.

Changing Your Default Email Client

Using the right email client makes the time-consuming process of checking and sending emails more efficient.

Launch the Mail app from the Dock or Finder and go to the menu bar. Choose preferences, select the Default Mail Reader dropdown, and choose a new default application.

The best way to check that you’ve successfully changed your default applications is to test them after you’ve made the change. See which program opens a PDF or perform a web search in Spotlight. If it opens in the right program, you’ve succeeded in changing default applications.

For more information, check out this link:

Which Applications Should I Use?

Once you know how to change default applications on a Mac, it’s time to decide which applications you want to use. While this is a matter of preference, some are more reliable and effective than others.

Chrome is one of the best web browsers. It’s fast and easy to sync with all other Google services such as Google Drive and Gmail.

Canary Mail is an email client that offers added security, handles unwanted emails, and uses algorithms to learn what you want and need.

There’s a range of other applications you can use to replace almost any default applications on a Mac. Experiment with a few options and set them as defaults to ensure they’re always in use.

Where to Find the Best Applications

All computers come with default applications to perform basic functions like opening files, browsing the internet, and opening emails. Using the best possible programs for each enures you save time and get the features you need.

Changing defaults is not a difficult process. Once you’ve set your browser, email client, and file viewer, test them to ensure the change sticks. Then you can enjoy the benefits of your favorite applications.

Choosing the right programs is one of the best ways to optimize the computing process. There are several options to choose from, so be sure you do your research and choose the best option for each task you need to complete.

Check out the rest of our content for more tips on using a Mac and all your other devices.


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