Mac default application configuration

Okay, I think I finally have some of the Mac default application file-open stuff figured out. I think the properly-phrased question that led me to this answer is: How do I configure my Mac OS X to automatically open a file (with a given filename extension) with a default application of my choosing?

In this short tutorial I'll show you how to configure your Mac to open files with the programs you want them to be opened with.

Let me do this by walking through an example. Right now I'm working on some Java code, but I don't want my "*.java" files to be opened by XCode, which is the current default program. I want to be able to double-click them and have them be opened with TextMate.

In my case I'm going to be working with files ending with the ".java" extension, so for your own purposes just use the extension of the filenames that you need to work on (like "*.txt" files, or any other filename extension), and you should be able to follow these steps.

  • Using the Finder, or just your desktop, select any "*.java" file. Don't open it, just click it once to select it.
  • Next, you want to do the "Get Info" thing on the file. You can do this with the [Apple][i] keystroke, or you can control-click or right-click the file and select "Get Info" from the popup menu.
  • On the Get Info window there is a section named "Open with:". Click the flippy triangle to open that section.
  • In that panel, choose the application you want to open this file with. In my case it's TextMate, so I select it from the drop-down list.
  • Also ... click the "Change All..." button, or you'll be sorely disappointed, because you've only changed the association for this one file. The Mac will give you an "Are you sure?" prompt. If you've selected the application you really want, press Continue.
  • My file now shows the TextMate icon (small victory party).
  • Close the Get Info window, and you're good to go. Check a few other files, and they should open with your new default application.

I hope this helps you. It sure makes my life a little better.