Mac OSX – “Open With” Menu Tips

When you double-click a file it will open in the default application, which is fine for most situations. Often, each file format corresponds to a single application. Word documents open in Microsoft Word, MP3s open in iTunes and movies open in Quicktime Player. But there are times when you might want a file to open in a different application. For example, you might want a image to open in Photoshop rather than Preview, or a Word document in TextEdit instead of Microsoft Word. In this situation, you have a few options.

Firstly, if the application is in the Dock, you can simply drag the file onto its icon in the Dock. Alternatively you can open up the application first, and choose “Open” form the File Menu. A third method is to use the “Open With” menu. You will find this by right-clicking (Control-clicking) on the file and looking near the top of the contextual menu. Within the Open With submenu you will find every application that can open the file, as well as an “Other” option.

Open With Menu

When you use the Open With menu, it is a “this time only” thing. Next time you double-click on the file, it will open with the default application again. To change the default application, bring up the menu as before, but hold down the Option key before choosing the application. The menu should change to “Always Open With”.

When you use the Always Open With menu, it is a “this file only” thing. To apply a new default application to all files of that format, you can use the Get Info window located in the File Menu. In the Open With section, set the new application and click the “Change All” button.

To reset all of your files to open with the original default application, you need to delete a certain file. Go to your user folder, and navigate into the Library folder then into the Preferences folder. Find the file, and drag it to the Trash. Alternatively, drag it to the Desktop if you think you might change your mind and want to put it back later.

Over time, you may find that the Open With menu gets cluttered with duplicates, older versions or applications you thought you deleted long ago. To get rid of these, you need to use Terminal. Open up Terminal (from Applications/Utilities) and paste the following line:

/System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user

Press return and your Open With menu should have been cleaned up to only include the most current applications.

Originally from –

20 comments so far

  1. Alex Danson on

    great tip! just that it doesn’t really work for me…:-(
    in OSX 10.4.11, i get the following error messages:

    CoreEndianFlipData: error -4940 returned for rsrc type FREF (id 132, length 7, native = no)
    CoreEndianFlipData: error -4940 returned for rsrc type FREF (id 132, length 7, native = no)

    any ideas?


  2. Alex Danson on

    correction… it DID work, after I closed the terminal…


  3. Factsandanswers on



  4. James Ludtke on

    No longer works in 10.5.2. I get the error:

    /System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Support/lsregister: No such file or directory

    I confirmed that the path is no longer valid in 10.5.2 (probably also in any 10.5.)

  5. James Ludtke on

    Found the answer:

    /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user

  6. seiya on

    Thank you. I worked for me using James Ludtke answer (5)

  7. hanum on

    nice sharing. Thank’s a lot ^_^

  8. Cast on

    Answer 5 worked for me 100%.

  9. VicoBed on

    Thank you so much dude !!!

  10. zaiha on

    I need to choose “others”. But it doesn’t let me choose every application. Can I do something from the terminal?

  11. surendra on

    Thanks dear.

    It also worked for me like a miracle.

    Following line worked for me

    /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Versions/A/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user

  12. Aneeque on

    Nice tip buddy.
    Can anybody here let me know how can I open the “choose application” dialog (appears after clicking the other… options in the above snap shot) programatically.
    I searched a lot for this but not able to get any help.

    • Jayaprakash on

      I have the same question as Aneeque, not able to find help on net. Does anyone know an answer?

  13. nycrican2 on

    Thanks so much, this worked like a charm!

  14. Billy on

    Using terminal didn’t work for me. Even the version the other commenter posted didn’t work. I found this article though which worked and is just as easy.!308898

  15. Tayotas on

    It worked really great using James Ludtke answer!
    You are the genius.

    The only thing is that I would like to understand what does the command do in the system… :S

  16. randy on

    I want to “dis” associate my file so that it will not open with any application. There seems to be no information for this. I have a certain type of file that on occasion I accidentally double click. It is associated with TextEdit, but this results in an error. Is there any way so that when I double click on it (as if I were trying to open it), NOTHING happens? Thanks.

  17. Luis on

    I’m running Lion OSX Version 10.7.4 and none of these work, also the Home/Library/Preferences does not contain the file for me to Trash. Can anyone help me clear this out?

  18. Obmj on

    For Mountain Lion and presumably Lion I found that the ApplicationServices.framework does not contain It is contained in the CoreServices.framework folder.

    Run the modified command in a Terminal window:
    /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user
    This worked for me running OSX 10.8.0

  19. rob on

    I hate the location of OPEN WITH…… NOTHING BUT TIME WASTED…..HOW THE HELL CAN IT B E MOVED TO THE BOTTOM OF THE LIST….as deleting my preference file is not the perminate solution.

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