Easier Ways To Open File With

The Open With command makes it possible to open a file with something other than the default app. But if you commonly need to do this with a specific app there are three ways to make it much easier to open the file with that app instead of the default. You could just drag it to the Dock icon for the app, add the app icon to the Finder toolbar, or create a keyboard shortcut.

Video Transcript
Let's say you want to open a file but not with a default app. For instance, here's an image. If I double click it, it opens up in Preview the default app. Now let's say you want to open up it in something different. Like Pixelmator, for instance. I can Control click on it. Choose Open With and then choose the app I want and it will work. But what happens if you need to do that a lot. Like you open up images a lot in Pixelmator or Acorn or something like that. But you don't want to change the default for everything. Because you can Control click and Open With and if you hold down Option key it says Always Open With. So you don't want to do that. You just want to have the option to easily open it in Preview or easily open it in, say, Pixelmator. Well, there are a few ways that you can make this happen.

One is to simply get used to dragging and dropping instead of actually double clicking. So if I were to drag and drop to the Dock I can find Pixelmator and I can make sure it's permanently on the left side of the Dock if I want, and open it up in Pixelmator that way. That's pretty easy. But what if you wanted it to be even easier.

Well, another way you can do it is you can add an application to your Finder toolbar. Let's go to the Applications Folder and let's find Pixelmator here as a good example. Let's then go and drag it up here to this toolbar. The way to do that is to edit the toolbar. So I'm going to Control click on the toolbar. It's a quick way to get to Customize Toolbar. You can also do it through the menu there. Once you're actually editing the toolbar here you can actually drag and drop something from the Finder into the toolbar. So I'll add it right there. So you can see there's more that you can do than just adding this stuff. You can actually add an app from the Finder.

So now I can drag and drop onto it like that. Now it will open up in Pixelmator. So it's even easier because often those icons will be closer than the icons down in the Dock having it up there in the Finder. Now wouldn't it be great if there was a keyboard shortcut. After all you can select a file and you can do Command O to open it up in the default app. What if you could hit Command and something else and open it in the app that you want. Well, it turns out that you can do this.

If you Control click and look here and see Open With you can see Pixelmator is there as a menu item. But you can't add keyboard shortcuts to these context menus. You can only add them here to the Menu Bar. As it turns out, if you look carefully, under File there's an Open With there and there you've got your app. So if I were to create a keyboard shortcut that uses this exact menu item name, so Pixelmator.app, then it should work. So let's try it out.

I'm going to go to System Preferences into Keyboard and then I'm going to go to Shortcuts and I'm going to add a new keyboard shortcut under App Shortcuts. I'm going to hit the plus button here. I'm going to say I want it to work in the Finder because that's really where this is going to be happening. The menu title, and it's got to be exact, matches exactly that. I'm going to do a keyboard shortcut of Command i. You can see it adds Pixelmator.app and it's Command i there.

Now here's where it gets a little tricky. Because if I select this image here. I go to File and then I go to Open With you would expect to find the keyboard shortcut there and you will eventually, I find. But it's not there right now. However the keyboard shortcut still works. I select this file. Command i and it opens up in Pixelmator.

So I'd score these three methods, the drag to the Dock working 100% of the time, it's solid. The toolbar method, solid as well. But the keyboard shortcut maybe has a little finickiness to it but it still seems to work pretty well.

Comments: 16 Responses to “Easier Ways To Open File With”

    Douglas Brace
    11/15/18 @ 10:47 am

    Related to the keyboard shortcut that you created for Pixelmator, isn’t “command + I” already used for the “Get Info” command?

    11/15/18 @ 10:51 am

    Douglas: Yes. This is just an example. Use what you want for the shortcode. I chose Command+i because it was next to Command+o. But use Command+Option+Shift+F7 or whatever you like.

    11/15/18 @ 10:55 am

    Love it love love it – such a great time saver for the future

    11/15/18 @ 1:03 pm

    30+ years I’ve used Macs and never knew this. Great info! BTW, when customizing the Finder menu by adding an app, the full name of the app appears (if you are set to text or icon+text). E.g.: “Adobe Photoshop Elements Editor.” That text takes lots of space. So I created an alias to the app, renamed it “PSE” and added that to menu. Drop a file on “PSE” and it opens in Photoshop Elements. With 2-4 character aliases, I can have several apps (really aliases) visible, even on my MBP 13″

    Lauren Eisen
    11/15/18 @ 2:45 pm

    once again, a great and useful tip. i never knew you could put apps in the menu bar. i will def be using that. every single time i watch your videos, even if i think i know the topic, i learn something. thank you gary!

    Lauren Eisen
    11/15/18 @ 3:09 pm

    ok, so i’m in finder>customize toolbar (icons are shaking) and application window is open but it won’t let me drag any app onto the menu bar. what am i doing wrong here?

    11/15/18 @ 4:06 pm

    Lauren: You don’t put them in the menu bar, but the window’s toolbar. Watch me do it in the video.

    11/15/18 @ 4:19 pm

    What impressed me most was your ability to find Pixelmator so fast in icon view! :)

    Lauren Eisen
    11/15/18 @ 5:44 pm

    got it! i didn’t have a separate finder window open for the apps. thank you!

    Douglas Brace
    11/15/18 @ 9:06 pm

    Gary, I brought up the predefined “command + I” keyboard shortcut because, while possible, it might not be a good idea to create a keyboard shortcut that overrides another keyboard shortcut that already exists.

    Ari-Pekka Viirtelä
    11/18/18 @ 3:01 am

    Does not work with Adobe Photoshop Elements 2019 in my macmini. No problems with any other app. Why not??

    11/18/18 @ 7:45 am

    Ari-Pekka: Which method doesn’t work with Photoshop Elements 2019? Do the other methods work? How about the regular Open With command?

    11/20/18 @ 11:16 am

    “app icon to the Finder toolbar” doesn’t work, Open With command works.

    11/20/18 @ 11:18 am

    Ari-Pekka: Could be something specific to PE. I have regular Photoshop (CC 2019) and it works. Have you tried it with other apps, like Preview? Are you using the latest version of macOS?

    11/20/18 @ 11:30 am

    As i said “No problems with any other app.”. Version of macOS is 10.14.1
    And sorry my bad english (from Finland :)

    11/20/18 @ 11:32 am

    Ari-Pekka: Must be an issue with PE then.

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