Parallel Desktops

Changing the default PDF viewer


Last week a friend sent me a PDF that had some rich content embedded in it; a small  video that Mac Preview would not let me see. I really like Preview but figured I might as well grab the free Acrobat Reader so that I could view the more advanced PDFs people were creating.

 Adobe Acrobat Reader is a pretty big install but after doing so I was able to see the PDF file – and its embedded video – just fine. There was a catch though; Acrobat is slower than Preview and now it was my default PDF viewer.
For the life of me I could not figure out how to make Preview my default viewer again. I right clicked on a PDF file and from the pop-up menu selected Open With – the sub menu that appeared allowed me to open it in Preview but not set that as the default.

At this point I did what I always do – Google up the problem and look for a solution. One of the first solutions I found was to use RCDefaultApp – a preferences pane add-in that allows you to see and set the default applications for file types, MIME types, etc. It worked great but I kept thinking that it was silly that I would need an add-on in order to do this. I am going to keep RCDefaultApp around though – it’s pretty handy.
Finally, the way to do it in OS X
I finally managed to find it with a little more Google work. Right click on a file, select Get Info and, at the bottom of the Get Info window was an "Open With" area. From there I could see and set the default viewer and also click the Change All button to change it for everything.
Not long after I put this up Jerome put in a comment that you can hold down the Option key while right clicking and the menu selection changes to Always Open With – no need to even go into the Get Info window. Thanks Jerome!
Now I can see my PDFs quickly in the native Preview application and use Acrobat Reader when I need the extra features it affords

By David Alison

I bought my first Mac almost 24 years ago when DOS ruled the world. I didn't keep it too long though. I was just kicking off my career as a software engineer and needed to go with PCs. I bought my 2nd Mac in February of 2008. I didn't expect that I would find myself using the machine as much as I have. It's not that I hate Windows (well, I pretty much hate Vista but XP is a fine OS), it's just that I find myself constantly playing with this machine.

I'll share with you here my experiences of making the move from Windows to Macintosh. I still have a foot in both worlds, hence the name of my section.