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Q: How do I change my operating system's default application for opening PDFs?


To set a PDF viewer as the default on Mac OS X:

  1. Select any PDF file from Finder. Control-click to open the menu.
    Result: A menu will open next to the file name.

  2. Choose Get Info from the menu that opens.
    Result: A new window will open with information on that PDF file.

  3. From the Open with: section in the new window that opens, select your preferred application, such as Adobe Reader or Preview.
    Result: That application will be selected.

  4. Click the Change All button. In the subsequent dialog box, click Continue.
    Result: The application that you selected will be the location in which PDFs open.

To set a PDF viewer as the default on Windows

  • If no other PDF viewer is installed, once Adobe Reader is installed, it becomes the default.
  • To set a preferred PDF viewer as the default:
    • Windows 7:
      1. Follow the menu path Start > Default Programs > Associate a file type or protocol with a specific program
      2. Highlight .pdf, then click Change.
      3. Choose your preferred PDF viewer, such as Adobe Reader.
    • In Windows XP
      1. Follow the menu path Start > Control Panel > Folder Options > File Types.
    • In Windows 10
      See: Tech Minute's Instructions

See also:

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

July 16, 2020

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