How to Set Preview as Default on Mac (with Photos)

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How to Set Preview as Default on Mac (with Photos)

Key Points

  • Preview is a software offered by MAC. It gives you a small view of what a document contains or an image looks like before it is opened.
  • Preview is often confused with the photos app, but they are different. Preview is not designed to organize all of your photos across devices. Instead, it is basic viewing and editing software.
  • If you have downloaded other PDF Software, you may have forgotten how to set Preview as the default. Here are step-by-step instructions.

Preview on a Mac is an easy-to-use software that contains plenty of powerful features. However, if you have other photo and PDF software installed on your Mac, you may need to set Preview as the default program. This method can also be used to change the default program for other file types as well.

You may want to use Preview because it is very intuitive and not nearly as complicated as other editing software. Preview allows you to edit photos and even PDF files with ease and at no cost. Plus, it is very easy for anyone to learn how to use it. Therefore, many users are switching to Preview from programs like Acrobat and Photoshop.

Let’s get into the super easy steps!

Step 1: Select an Image

The first step to changing Preview to the default image viewing program is to locate a photo in Finder. Most photos on your Mac will be in either HEIC or JPG format, you will actually need to repeat these steps for each file format you want to change.

mac preview
First, select an image.


Step 2: Open Info Panel

Once you find a photo in Finder, right-click the image to bring up its menu. On the menu, choose Get Info to open the info window.

mac preview
Right-click on the image and select Get Info.


Step 3: Select “Open With”

A narrow info window will open with details about the photo, locate the Open With selection and click on the arrow to expand it.

mac preview
Click on Open With to open up a list of options.


Step 4: Choose “Preview” as the Default

A drop-down menu should now be visible and will display the current default program. Choose Preview on the menu to make it the default program for the respective file type.

mac preview
Under Open With, select Preview (default).


Step 5: Click “Change All”

Once you choose Preview as the default, be sure to select Change All to make the selection take effect.

mac preview
Click on Change All…


Step 6: Confirm the Change

Now, close out the info window and try to open the photo as normal. Also, try to open other photos of the same file type to confirm that the change took effect.

mac preview
Confirm the change took place.


Step 7: Change Other Formats

After you’ve changed the first file type, you will need to go continue to change others. For instance, JPG is the most common file type for photos, but you may also wish to make Preview the default program for HEIC photos or even PDF files.

mac preview
You can make Preview the default for other file types as well.


Open in Preview Once

You don’t have to set a program as the default in order to open a file with it. To open a file with a program that is not the default, simply right-click the file in Finder. On the dropdown menu, select Open With…, which will extend to another menu. On this mini-menu, select the program you want to open the file with.

This will only open the file with the selected program this time. In the future, you will have to select to open with it again if you choose. Alternatively, you can open a program such as Preview and select to open any photo file from inside the program rather than through Finder.

How to Use Preview

Preview is a very versatile program that is best known as a photo editor. You can easily convert image files type by changing how they are saved. Similarly, you can make basic changes to images, such as cropping, resizing, or flipping. Although Preview is not as powerful as other tools, such as Photoshop, it does provide a range of basic features that meets the needs of most users.

Preview also works to view and edit PDF files, including adding and removing pages. Plus, you can even sign documents or make notes with a marker or highlighter. All of the available features for a given file are available in the top menu, primarily in the Tools tab.

Difference Between Preview and Photos

There is often a misunderstanding between the Preview app and the Photos app. While they both share some similar features, the two programs are vastly different. The Photos app is the same basic program that you would find on an iPhone or iPad and is used to manage your photos across devices.

You can view photos and make edits with the software. Preview, on the other hand, is not designed to organize all of your photos across devices. Instead, it is basic viewing and editing software. Preview is commonly used to quickly open and view files on Mac and also works with PDF files.

Final Thoughts

Preview is a simple-to-use photo/document viewer and editor. It brings some unique features that anyone can quickly learn to use without the need for the Photos app. So, choosing to use it as the default program for either photos or files is a good choice if you don’t need more advanced features.

You can always open a document with a specific program by right-clicking and selecting what software to open it with. However, it is also important that you know how to set a default program on your Mac since the ability extends far beyond just photos. You may also want to change the default program for files such as videos and documents.

Check out the video below to see a quick walk through of the process required to change your default to Preview.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is Preview a Photoshop alternative?

Preview is not basic photo editor, but it is not a full replacement to the range of features offered by Photoshop.

Is Preview a paid app?

Preview is a free app available on Mac computers.

Can you use Preview on Windows computers?

Preview is available only on Apple devices. However, Windows users can choose between Windows Photo Viewer and Windows Photo Editor.

Do iPhones and iPads have Preview?

The official Preview app found on Mac computers is not available on iPhones and iPads.

Can you open HEIC files in Preview?

Yes, you can open HEIC photo files, along with other common formats, such as JPG.

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