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Change file associations

There is more than one way to open a file and one way is from within an application. For example, you can open a text document in TextEdit by running TextEdit in the Applications folder and then selecting File, Open or File, Open Recent and choosing a document.

It is not the only way to load a file into an application and it is not always the most convenient. There are methods that are quicker and easier under certain circumstances. For example, if you have your Documents folder open in front of you in a Finder window and you want to open a file, such as a TextEdit .rtf document, then it is quicker and easier to simply double click the file. OS X looks up the application that is associated with the type of file you clicked and it starts it and automatically opens the file. This works for a wide range of file types.

This is an excellent time saver, but it can also be a source of irritation. For example, suppose you double click a JPEG file. Which application should OS X use to open it? Preview or your favourite photo editor? Only one aplication can be associated with a file and if the wrong application is associated with a particular type of file then it's a major source of irritation because you can't double click files to open them. However, there are ways of changing the application that's associated with a file and it's very easy.

Mac OS X screen grabInstead of double clicking a file, right click or Ctrl+click it. Select Open With from the menu and a list of applications is displayed. With .html files, for example, you'll see Safari, TextEdit, and possibly other aplications if you have them installed, like Firefox, web page editors and so on. Just select the application you would like to use. If you don't see the application you want to use, click the Other option at the bottom of the list and you can choose any application you like - a standard open file dialog is displayed showing the Applications folder.

If you choose the Other option, whether you see the application on the list or not, you'll see an interesting option in the dialog. there's a tick box that says Always Open With. If you select an application and tick this box then this application will always be used to open this file type when it is double clicked. It permanently changes the file association.

There is another way to do this and you should right click or Ctrl+click a file and choose Get Info. A panel opens and displays a wide range of information about the file. Look for the Open With section and expand it if necessary. There's a pop-up menu that displays a list of applications - it's the same as the Open With menu. You can choose an application if you see the one you want to use, or click the Other option to choose an application on the disk. Click the Change All button to permanently change the application associated with this file type.

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