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The default image viewer on Mac is Preview, a stock macOS app that actually originated at NeXT. Preview does many things. On top of letting you view, edit, and annotate images and PDF documents, Preview can also import and export documents to various file formats. It is, for many, a staple.

Being a default photo viewer, Preview will launch automatically if you open any image or PDF document on your Mac. As useful as it is, some users with specific needs will find this behavior more of an annoyance than a helpful feature, and would like to default to other apps for opening images. For example, you might want to make Photoshop your default image viewer and editor. Or maybe you want Pixelmator to be that go-to app.

Fortunately, you can easily change the default image viewer on your Mac. This is how to do just that.

How to stop using Preview as the default photo viewer

Step 1: Click to select an image file you want to open with a different photo viewer or editor. Once it is selected, hit Command + I on your keyboard to bring up the Info panel. Alternatively, you can simply right click on the file, and select Get Info.

Step 2: The Info panel will open with various details about the image. Under the Open With dropdown menu, select the application you want to use as default. It could be Photoshop, or in my  case, it is Pixelmator. Assuming you want to apply the change to all similar file types, click Change All to open all documents like this one with the selected application in the future.

change default image viewer on Mac OS X

Step 3: You will be asked to confirm the change. Click Continue.

change default photo viewer

Step 4: Depending on your needs, you might have to repeat the process with different file types. In our example above, we are just switching the default image viewer for JPG files, but you’ll need to repeat the process for other files such as GIF, PNG, PDF, etc, depending on your preferences, of course.

You can just as easily revert back to Preview should you want to by simply following the steps above again.

The steps describe above work for any kind of files and applications. You can just as easily make specific file types open in specific apps.

More: Mac tips and tutorials.

  • Chris Wagers

    Thanks! Love your tips!

  • Carlos Medina

    A common a suggestion maybe guest mode?

  • marco v berlo

    Jeff benjamin made also a great tutorial about this. But great tip

  • Jc Rodriguez

    Thank you!

  • Beeeej

    I edit hundreds of photos a year, so I use Preview frequently, and it’s always opened as the default when I open .jpg files – but suddenly in the last couple of weeks, my Mac (MacBook Pro, OS X 10.11.6) has decided to open .jpg files in Firefox instead. I follow your instructions to switch the default to Preview again, to the letter, all the way to the end – have even tried rebooting after completing the instructions – but as soon as I’ve quit Preview, the very next time I open a .jpg file it opens in Firefox again. (And as you may know, Preview automatically quits if you switch to another application with no images still open in Preview, so I can’t just keep it open all the time without keeping a dummy image open all the time.) I’m going nuts trying to figure out what could be wrong, and in the meantime I want to throw my laptop against the wall for doing this to me again and again. Please help!!

    • Rose Red

      I am having the EXACT same problem and it is driving me craaazzzzyyy…!! Except for me, Adobe Illustrator is opening my JPEGS/JPGS instead of Firefox. I keep resetting the default, but it just keeps switching back. And it is driving me crazy. Please let me know if you’ve found a solution! Specs: 10.11.6 on mid-2012 MacbookPro.

    • Sonja Ray

      Same problem here. My Mac will open pdfs, jpgs, & gifs in any and every possible app except Preview. No matter how many times I tell it to always open them in Preview.

    • warrenzoell

      My problem is similar. When I set “preview” as my default for my
      images it eventually keeps switching back to Photoshop as the default.
      It’s driving me crazy.

    • Beeeej

      Does Sebastien even still check these comments? It would be REALLY nice to know if there will someday be an answer to my/our question.

  • warrenzoell

    The problem I’m having is when I set “preview” as my default for my images it eventually keeps switching back to Photoshop as the default. It’s driving me crazy. Does anyone have a solution?