Sometimes when trying to open a file it may not open for whatever reason(s) or might open but not with your preferred application. For example: Someone might of e-mailed you a Microsoft Word .doc file (i.e. Travel_Itinerary.doc) whereby you do not have Microsoft Office 2011 installed on your Apple Mac computer. Or you might of downloaded a music file whereby it gets played properly but opens with an application you are not keen on (i.e. iTunes). Or you could of installed a piece an application not realising it has made itself the default (normally used/opened) application. Regardless of reason, in this section I am going to show you how you can make a specific application the default application.
In this first example I have a RTF (Rich Text Formatted) file called Research_Notes.rtf which, by default (normal behaviour), opens with the application called TextEdit. There is nothing wrong with this scenario, but if I want to be more creative with the Research_Notes.rtf file, such as add some Shapes and Charts to it, I may need to open it with another application that is more powerful and rich in features; such as Microsoft Word 2011. With this scenario I now have two methods of opening the Research_Notes.rtf file.
With the first method I need to right click on the Research_Notes.rtf file, to bring up its Context (Options) menu, and then hover over its OPEN WITH sub-menu for a quick second with the mouse pointer (don't click on OPEN WITH!) before clicking on the sub-menu menu-item called MICROSOFT WORD.APP. By clicking on the MICROSOFT WORD.APP sub-menu menu-item I am telling OS X (Mountain Lion) that I would like to open the Research_Notes.rtf file with the application called Microsoft Word, but only as a one-off open - Microsoft Word will only be used this one time to open the Research_Notes.rtf file. If I open that file again it will open with the TextEdit application.
Fig 1.0 Right click on a file and then select an application (i.e. Microsoft Word.app) from its sub-menu menu-items
With the second method I do exactly as above but this time select (left click on) the sub-menu menu-item called OTHER. This tells OS X (Sierra) that I wish to open the Research_Notes.rtf file with another application. Or put another way: I do not wish to open the Research_Notes.rtf file with any of the listed applications, which may also be suggested and/or recently used applications, such as the PAGES or EXCEL applications.
Fig 1.1 Right click on a file and then select its OTHER sub-menu menu-item
Using the second method brings up the CHOOSE APPLICATION File Requester that asks you to select your preferred application for opening the named file; In this case the preferred application I want to use for opening the Research_Notes.rtf file.
By default (normal behaviour) the CHOOSE APPLICATION File Requester has the APPLICATIONS folder already selected for you in its FOLDER drop-down menu. This is because the OPEN WITH function expects you to select your preferred application from within the APPLICATIONS folder, but this doesn't mean you have to. You could change the folder currently selected in the FOLDER drop-down menu (APPLICATIONS) to your PICTURES folder for example, by clicking on the FOLDER drop-down menu and navigating it to your PICTURES folder or simply by clicking on the PICTURES folder link in the FINDER sidebar, if PICTURES is where your preferred application has been installed. You normally leave the FOLDER drop-down menu alone though and just select your preferred application from within the already selected APPLICATIONS folder.
Another thing the OPEN WITH function does, by default, with the CHOOSE APPLICATION File Requester is to fade out all listed applications except those applications it feels might be of relevant/use - Its RECOMMENDED APPLICATIONS. So in the example below the Bitdefender (Internet Security) application is faded out, obviously because you would not use it to open a text file, as is the Chess application for the same reason just given. However, it does include (recommend) some applications that you might not think of using to open a text file, such the Dropbox application and iTunes application (not shown in the screenshot). Whether or not all of those recommended applications will open your file is a different story.
Fig 1.2 By default, the CHOOSE APPLICATION File Requester only highlights recommended applications.
If you want the freedom of choosing any application in the list, perhaps so you can test certain applications with your file, simply click on the ENABLE drop-down menu and select the ALL APPLICATIONS menu-item. Doing so will make almost all of the faded out applications available for selection, as a preferred application (Fig 1.4) - Note: The Bitdefender application is still faded out simply because the OPEN WITH function knows for sure that it cannot be used to open a text file such as the Research_Notes.rtf file.
Fig 1.3 Select ALL APPLICATIONS from the ENABLE drop-down menu to make all applicable applications available
Fig 1.4 Almost all of the faded out applications are now available for selection as a preferred application
In this particular example I have chosen the MICROSOFT WORD 2011 application (Microsoft Word.app) as the preferred application to open the Research_Notes.rtf file. I have navigated through the APPLICATIONS folder and expanded its folder view in order to see inside the MICROSOFT OFFICE 2011 folder (sub-folder of the APPLICATIONS folder). In other words, I have clicked on the TRIANGLE button to the left of the MICROSOFT OFFICE 2011 folder (sub-folder) in order to open that folder (sub-folder) and then select (left click on) the MICROSOFT WORD.APP application icon. With that done I am now ready to open the Research_Notes.rtf file by clicking on the file requester's OPEN button.
Fig 1.5 Select your preferred application and click on the OPEN button to open the actual, Research_Notes.rtf, file.
If you don't want to carry out any of the above procedures (methods one or two) every time you want to open the named (right clicked on) file (i.e. the Research_Notes.rtf text file) with a certain application (i.e. Microsoft Word.app), you can use the ALWAYS OPEN WITH option. This option, when ticked, tells OS X (Sierra) to always open the named file (i.e. the Research_Notes.rtf text file) with your preferred (selected) application (i.e. Microsoft Word 2011).
Fig 1.6 Tick the ALWAYS OPEN WITH option so that you don't have to pick your preferred application each time
The above is all well and good as it tells OS X (Sierra) to always open the Research_Notes.rtf text file with the application called Microsoft Word 2011. So once the above procedure has been carried out, once, you can then open (double click on) the Research_Notes.rtf text file a thousand times and it will always be opened and therefore displayed by Microsoft Word 2011. Now imagine though you had to carry out the above procedure for each and every .rtf file you ever wanted to open/use with Microsoft Word 2011. That would be a pain.
Fortunately there is a way to tell OS X (Sierra) that you would like a certain type of file (i.e. all .rtf files) to be opened with a particular application (i.e. Microsoft Word 2011), and that's by using the CHANGE ALL function. To use the CHANGE ALL function you first need to right click on a file to bring up its Context (options) menu and then select (left click on) its GET INFO menu-item. For this example I have used the Research_Notes.rtf text file again.
Fig 1.7 Right click on a file and select (left click on) the GET INFO menu-item from the Context (Options) menu
Clicking on the GET INFO menu-item brings up a Properties (Information) window for the file that was right clicked on (i.e. the Research_Notes.rtf text file). Among its Properties (Information) is the OPEN WITH drop-down menu that is currently stating the TextEdit application (TEXTEDIT.APP) as being the default application used to open the named file (i.e. the Research_Notes.rtf text file).
Fig 1.8 The Properties (Information) window for the Research_Notes.rtf text file
To change the preferred OPEN WITH application (the application that the file will be opened with) you need to click on the OPEN WITH drop-down menu and then select your preferred application from its 'Recommended Applications' list (like in Fig 1.0) or by using its OTHER menu-item (like in Fig 1.1 onwards); in the same way as shown above with methods one and two. You basically browse for your preferred application using the OTHER menu-item or pick a recommended application. In this example I have chosen (selected) the Microsoft Word.app as the default application I would like to use when opening/editing the Research_Notes.rtf text file.
Fig 1.9 Click on the OPEN WITH drop-down menu and select your preferred application for the named file
At this point you are just selecting a default application for the named file (like the ALWAYS OPEN WITH option in Fig 1.6 above). If you want all files of this type (i.e. all text files with the .rtf file name extension) to be opened with your preferred (selected) application (i.e. MICROSOFT WORD.APP) you need to click on the CHANGE ALL button. Just to clarify; This will be a permanent change. This is not just a change of default application for the Research_Notes.rtf text file, it is a change for all .rtf (Rich Text Formatted) text files.
Fig 1.10 Click on the CHANGE ALL button if you want all .rtf text files to be opened with Microsoft Word 2011
If you need to change things back, just follow one of the above examples again. So if you need all .rtf text files to use the TextEdit application, by default, again you would follow the CHANGE ALL method (Fig 1.10 above) whereas if you only wanted a particular .rtf text file to use the TextEdit application again, by default, you would use the ALWAYS OPEN WITH method (Fig 1.6 above). And if you just wanted a one-off change you would use method one or two as shown at the beginning of this section, without the use of options CHANGE ALL or ALWAYS OPEN WITH.
Also, just to clarify: You can use the above methods to change the default application for other file types (types of file) too - The last example above changed the default application for all files with a .rtf file name extension but you could use the above methods and examples to change the default application for all audio/video files with the .mp4 file name extension for example as well as the default application for all files with the .pages file name extension for example.