How to Make Preview the Default for PDF on a Mac

Wish Acrobat or Edge or Safari would not open each time you’re trying to view a PDF file? Find out here how to make Preview the default app for opening PDF documents on a Mac.

First, Your Fingers in Water (or Vice Versa?)

You know the puffed and watery look. It’s not, though, that water enters the skin and makes it swell like a balloon stuck to a water’s flowing hose—at least not alone.

A neuromuscular effect akin to a reflex also plays a role creating the crumply skin under water: small blood vessels contract in reaction to water on fingers or toes and pull parts of the skin in to make it wrinkle. The hypothesized benefit is a better grip on wet (and slippery) rocks, for instance.

Now, human gecko, want to get a grip on PDF files?

How to Make Preview the Default App for PDF on a Mac

Time needed: 3 minutes.

To make sure PDF files open in Preview by default on a Mac:

  1. Locate a PDF file in Mac Finder.

    It’s the extension: Look for files ending in “.PDF”.
    Search: If you type PDF in the Finder search field, Finder will offer PDF Document as an auto-completion choice.
    No PDF at hand: Download a sample PDF file.

  2. Click on the PDF document with the right moue button.

  3. Select Get Info from the context menu that has opened.

    Mac keyboard shortcut: Press Command I with the file highlighted in Finder to open the info sheet.
    Get Info for any PDF file in Finder to change default PDF settings

  4. Expand Open with: in the document info sheet that has appeared.

  5. Select Preview from the list of application choices under Open with:.

  6. Now click Change All….

    “Change All…” grayed out: If you cannot click Change All… while Preview is selected under Open with:, it is already the default PDF application.
    Click “Change All…” to make Preview the default for PDF files on a Mac

  7. Click Continue to make Preview the default application for PDF files.

How to Make Preview the Default App for PDF on a Mac: FAQ

Can I open a PDF file in Preview without changing the default app?


To open one PDF file in Preview while keeping the default app for PDFs:

  1. Click on the PDF file in Finder with the right mouse button.
  2. Select Open With | Preview from the context menu that has appeared.

Can I change the default just for one PDF file?


Finder will remember the application you picked on the Info sheet for an individual document. You need not change the default app for the file extension.

To make a particular PDF file open in Preview by default:

  1. Open the file’s information sheet; see above.
  2. Select Preview under Open with:.
  3. Close the info sheet window.

(How to make Preview the default app for PDF on a Mac tested with macOS Ventura 13.3 and Monterey 12.0; updated May 2023)

Home » Mac Tips and Resources » How to Make Preview the Default for PDF on a Mac