Opening Documents With Specific Applications

Most documents have a default application that will launch if you open that document. You can also specify an application if you wish to open a document with something else. You can do this with drag and drop, or by using the context menu. You can permanently change which application is used to open a specific document. You can also change which app is used to open all of the documents of the same file type. If you want to find other apps that can work with a document, it is easy to search for them in the Mac App Store.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Opening Documents With Specific Applications.

Hi, this is Gary with Today I'm going to show you how to open documents with Specific Applications.

Now as an example here I've got two text files, really simple basic text files, and I've created them using TextEdit. They are plain text files. There are two different applications I can use to open these. You can see them right here. One is TextEdit and the other is a popular app called TextWrangler which also edits text files.

If I double click on these, because I've created them in TextEdit, they will as you would expect and open in TextEdit. You can see here I've opened this in TextEdit. I can choose to open these in other app, say TextWrangler, in a variety of different ways.

One is, of course, to drag and drop into the Dock here onto TextWrangler. You can see it opens in TextWrangler instead. I can drag and drop onto the application itself in the Applications folder, I can create an alias to either of these two apps and drag and drop onto that. But you can use drag and drop to decide which application opens the file.

Now another way to do this is to Control click or use your secondary click. Two fingers on a track pad for instance or the right side of the mouse. I'm going to Control click on this and you can see that I can open the file, which is the same as double clicking it.

I can also choose Open With. This will give me the default app right here which shows me TextEdit would open by default.

Also, a variety of other apps that claim they can handle text files. Doesn't mean that they can. It just means that the application itself says yeah I can handle a text file. Now it may not handle it the way you want. It may not, for instance Safari is not going to open it for editing which is what you may want to do. But other ones will. You can see TextWrangle is here so I can choose TextWrangle from this list and it opens up in TextWrangler.

If I close it, I'm just using Command W to close it, and I double click on it, it is still going to open up in TextEdit. I've only temporarily changed that behavior by choosing Open With and choosing another app.

Now you can permanently change this behavior by Control clicking again, choosing Open With and going to TextWrangler, but instead of just selecting I'm going to hold down the Option key on my keyboard. Notice the Open With changes to Always Open With. If I select TextWrangler it opens in TextWrangler as before and every time I double click to open this it will now open in TextWrangler.

Here is another text file created by TextEdit. If I double click on that, that is going to open up in TextEdit. So I've only set up a special exception for this one file here which will now always open in TextWrangler. If I Control click on it and choose Open With notice that TextEdit is still set as the default for this type of file but I know that I've changed it so that TextWrangle will open up each time.

I can change it back by holding the Option key down again. It changes to Always Open With, select TextEdit, and now TextEdit once again will always open this file.

The question is how can I change what opens text files for all text files, even not the ones selected? So I have this one selected here. I'm going to get info on it. So I'm going to do File and Get Info. It is going to open up the info window here. I'm going to select to have this open with TextWrangler. It appears to be the same functionality that we had by Control clicking on the file. Now that has set that so I can close it and open this and it will open with TextWrangler. But it won't change how this text document or any other text document is going to open.

However, if I hit this Change All button here, it gives me a warning, I say okay. I can close that now and not only will this one open with TextWrangler but this one, which wasn't even selected during the previous operation also will open with TextWrangler. Any file, of this file type, will now open with TextWrangler.

I also want you to notice two other options here. If you go down to Open With you can see there is Other here. So if for some reason an application does not show up in this list that means that it doesn't say it can't handle a text file. But sometimes they can. Sometimes utilities and such can handle text files and you know they can. Or perhaps they import that file and do something special with it. You can choose Other and then any application you want. It just allows you to choose from the Finder.

You can also choose App Store. What App Store does is that is goes to the Mac App Store and it will then do a search, and you can see a very specific odd search it performed. It will select all of the apps it can find that claim to open that type of file. In this case 224 different applications in the app store say they can open a text file. Now it is not so great for text files.

It might help you find some new interesting text file editors but for very specific type of files, maybe files that you can't open with anything else, using that functionality may show you an app in the App Store that you can get that can handle that type of file. It is great for different types of graphics and video files that you can't seem to edit with anything else.

Comments: 2 Responses to “Opening Documents With Specific Applications”

    Bodega Bobo
    5 years ago

    Thanks, Gary. Very helpful hint. Should have figured this out for myself bur did not

    5 years ago

    Text is a feature that I never really use. I always go to pages or some other word processing platform and I’ll go from there to formulate my text. I guess I’m not too sure that text edit is a stand alone tool to build upon. A big gap in my knowledge.

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