Quickly set Always Open With app

Do you use the Finder’s Get Info window (Command-I with an item selected) to manage the Always Open With settings for your files? For instance, to set a certain text file to always open in Smultron instead of Text Edit? Or to force a given .doc file to always open in Pages instead of Word?

If so, you’re familiar with the process—highlight the file, press Command-I, click the triangle next to the Open with section, then click the pop-up and choose the application you’d like to use to open the file. Finally, close the Get Info window. Ugh.

You could, of course, use the contextual menu in the Finder to open the document one time—just control-click the document and choose Open With from the pop-up menu. But that works only one time, meaning you’d have to use this method every time you wanted to open the document.

It turns out that there’s a shortcut solution to this problem—an easy way to set the Always Open With application for a given document. Proceed as if you were going to open the document using the contextual menu, but don’t select Open With just yet. Instead, press and hold the Option key down. Just as with the top-level menus, holding down the Option key reveals choices that aren’t normally visible. In this case, Open With changes to read Always Open With. So that’s it—select Always Open With, scroll down to find the application you’d like to use, and release the mouse. Bingo! You’ve now set the Always Open With application for the selected document (or documents, if you highlight more than one).

The other contextual menu item that changes when you do this is the Get Info entry—just as with the main menus, it switches to Show Inspector, which is another way of looking at the Info window for your files. If you’d like to know more about Inspector and Get Info windows, we covered just that back in June.

  
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