Skip to main content

How to change the default apps on a Mac

Change your Mac’s default apps in three easy steps

When you first get a Mac, you’ll find that Apple has set all of the default apps for common file types: Safari for websites, Preview for pictures, etc. In most cases, these are fine, and you’ll be happy enough using them. But what if you want to change the default apps on your Mac to something different?

Fortunately, it’s easy enough to do. There are, however, a few different ways of doing it depending on what file type you want to open. We’ll cover everything below.

Change the default app for specific file types

How to change the default apps on a Mac
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Unless you’re looking to change your default web browser or email client (which we’ll cover below), there’s only one method you need to remember when it comes to changing your default apps on a Mac.

Let’s say you have an .RTF file and want to change which app it opens in. By default, your Mac will open it with TextEdit, Apple’s built-in simple text-editing app. To change that, Ctrl+click the file in question, then click Get Info.

This will bring up a new window. Here, head to the Open with section and choose your new app from the drop-down list, then click Change All. Next time you go to open a file with the same extension, it will open with your new default app.

Change your default web browser

How to change the default apps on a Mac
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Safari is Apple’s own web browser, and it’s set as the default browser on your Mac by default. Given that it’s made by Apple, it should be no surprise that it puts a strong emphasis on privacy. But we’ve found that it’s a fair amount slower than some of its rivals, and you may have a particular web browser you want to replace it with.

To switch your default web browser on your Mac computer, just open up your System Preferences. Once you’ve done this, click General. This option should be located in the top-left corner of the screen. Scroll a little, and around halfway down the page, you’ll notice a note labeled Default web browser. Select the drop-down arrow and pick a different option.

That’s all you have to do; no need to do anything else. The option you selected will now be established as the new default. Now, whenever you click on a link, for instance, in an email forwarded from a friend, you’ll see this new default pop up instead.

Change your default email app

How to change the default apps on a Mac
Image used with permission by copyright holder

While we’re on the email topic, you also have the opportunity to quickly and easily swap your default email application on your Mac. If you’re wondering how to do this, just follow these simple instructions. First, open your Apple Mail app. Scroll up to the menu bar at the top of the screen and select Mail > Preferences. At the top of the General tab, you’ll notice an entry tagged Default email reader. Once you’re here, hit the drop-down arrow, then pick the app you want.

If you’re actively searching for a new and improved email app, we’ve rounded up your best options so that you won’t be hard-pressed for an Apple Mail alternate.

Editors' Recommendations

Alex Blake
In ancient times, people like Alex would have been shunned for their nerdy ways and strange opinions on cheese. Today, he…
Best refurbished MacBook deals: Get a MacBook Air for $200
A stack of MacBooks is pictured from the top down.

If you want to buy one of Apple's MacBooks but you're strapped for cash and the discounts that you see from retailers' MacBook deals don't get them cheap enough, there's another option for you -- buy a refurbished MacBook. You'll have to get the device from a trustworthy source though, so that you'll be sure that the device will be fully functional, in excellent condition, and backed by a warranty.  To help you narrow down your choices, we've rounded up the best refurbished MacBook deals that you can shop right now. Taking advantage of any of these offers will save your wallet from getting emptied, but you need to act fast because we're not sure how long they'll last.
Apple MacBook Air 2015 -- $200, was $210

The 2015 Apple MacBook Air is far from the powerhouse that it used to be when it was released several years ago, but it can still get the job done if you're dealing with basic tasks. The laptop is equipped with a 1.6 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, integrated Intel HD graphics 6000, and 4GB of RAM, with a 128GB SSD for ample storage space. The 11.6-inch screen, which offers 1366 x 768 resolution, keeps the 2015 Apple MacBook Air compact. It runs on the MacOS X 10.10 Yosemite out of the box, but it can be upgraded to MacOS 12 Monterey.

Read more
Best Mac Mini deals for 2023: Save over $100 on a renewed Apple desktop
Apple Mac Mini 2018

The beauty of Apple's Mac Mini is that it blends the power of modern desktops with the minimalist design and versatility of laptops. You see, laptops may be handy, namely for on-the-go lifestyles, but they rarely match the power and productivity of working on a full-fledged desktop. Desktops are especially great when you're settling in for a day's work -- but they don't have to hog your entire space or cramp your style either. Pint-sized PCs like Apple's Mac Mini are the perfect way to enjoy the comfort and utility of a desktop workstation with a small footprint, with the Mac Mini also having the benefit of being the cheapest entry point into the Mac software ecosystem. If you're hunting for a MacOS PC on a budget, look no further: We've got the best Mac Mini deals right here.

If you're keeping your options open, then also check out these iMac deals and MacBook deals as well.
Apple education pricing for new Macs and iPad -- multiple price points

Read more
Best MacBook deals: New Apple laptops starting at $750
A MacBook Pro M2 sits on a wooden table with a nice bokeh background.

Apple is known for making premium computer products with a beautiful design, easy-to-use software ecosystem, and powerful hardware. This regularly has Apple among the best laptop brands, and while a significant discount on Apple laptops is rare, there are quite a few taking place right now. Apple laptops ranging from the MacBook Air M1 to the redesigned MacBook Air M2 are seeing discounts. This includes different builds of the more powerful MacBook Pro as well. We’ve tracked down all of the best Apple MacBook deals you can find right now, so read onward for more details on how you can save.
MacBook Air M1 (2020) — $750, was $999

The first incarnation of Apple Silicon in a MacBook came in the MacBook Air M1, which is still now a few years later still an incredibly capable laptop. The M1 chip is both powerful and efficient, which is what allows such a slim laptop to be able to handle certain professional-grade tasks. This is the base model, which comes in with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid state drive. This should be plenty for most uses, and Apple manages to squeeze the most out of all if its laptops’ specs. The MacBook Air M1 is a great laptop for both students and professionals, as it’s designed to make work, play, and creating easier and more exciting.

Read more