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How to set default apps on Mac

How to set default apps on Mac
How to set default apps on Mac (Image credit: iMore)

Certain actions that you perform on your Mac will cause macOS Monterey default apps to open. For example, clicking a document may open Pages. But what if you want Microsoft Word to open instead? You can also set your default web browser and email reader, meaning your best Mac can easily open your favorite apps. Here's how to set default apps on Mac!

How to change the default Mac app for specific file types

You can change default apps for many different types of files in macOS Monterey. In this example, I use a .jpg (photo), but you can do these steps with plenty of different types of files. The steps remain the same in the upcoming macOS Ventura release.

  1. Right-click on a file that uses the file type you'd like to change the default for. For example, one with a .jpg extension (a photo).
  2. Click on Get Info in the pop-up.
  3. Click Open With if the section isn't already expanded.

Change Default App On macOS: Right-click on a file, click Get Info, click Open With, click the dropdown, and then select an app (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click the drop-down menu.
  2. Click the app you want to use.

Change Default App On macOS: Click the drop down menu and then click the app you want to use (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Click Change All...
  2. Click Continue when the Finder asks you if you're sure.

Change Default App On macOS: Click Change All and then click continue. (Image credit: iMore)

Now, anytime you open a file with that extension, the Finder will automatically open it with the app you've selected.

How to set your default web browser

  1. Launch System Preferences from the dock, Finder, or by clicking the Apple icon in the Menu bar.
  2. Click General at the top left of the window.
  3. Click the drop-down next to Default web browser.
  4. Click the web browser you'd like to use as the default.

Set Deafual web browser on macOS: Open System Preferences, click General, click the dropdown next to Default web browser, choose a browser (Image credit: iMore)

How to set your default email reader

Mail is likely the default email app on your Mac, but just in case you have others downloaded, you can set the default reader. Here's how:

  1. Launch Mail from your dock or the Finder.
  2. Click Mail in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
  3. Click Preferences.
  4. Click the drop-down next to Default Mail Reader.
  5. Click the app you'd like to set as the default.

Set default mail reader: Launch Mail, click Mail, click Preferences, click the dropdown next to Default Mail Reader, click the app you want to use as the default (Image credit: iMore)

You can also set default apps on your iPhone and iPad

Now, that you have your favorite apps opening all your files on your best Mac, you should look into switching the default apps on your current iPhone and iPad.

While you don't have as much freedom to set default apps on your iPhone or iPad, you can set the mail and browser apps to be third-party apps of your choosing. So, If you've tried out a few mail and browser apps and have found the one you'd like to use all of the time, learn how to switch out your default mail and browser apps on iOS and iPadOS.

Updated July 2022: Updated to mention macOS Ventura.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 


Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.