If you’ve downloaded Adobe Acrobat on the Mac you’ve probably discovered that it takes over Preview as the default PDF viewer in Mac OS X, which is annoying because Acrobat is slow to load and a fairly bloated application. Given that Preview comes bundled with Mac OS X, is extremely fast, and quite efficient at viewing not only PDF’s but tons of other file types, there’s little need to use Acrobat Reader as a way to view PDF files. Accordingly, we’re to demonstrate how to change the default PDF viewer back to Preview on the Mac.
Change the Default PDF Viewer in Mac OS X
This works the same to set Preview as the default pdf viewer in all versions of Mac OS:
- From the Mac OS X desktop or Finder, find a PDF file and hit Command+i to “Get Info” on the file
- Click on the arrow next to “Open with:” to expand and access the default application list
- Click the pull-down menu and choose “Preview” from the list, or if it’s not visible, navigate to it by choosing “Other” and point to the Preview.app found in /Applications/
- With Preview.app selected, click on the “Change All” button
Here’s where this is located in the Get Info dialog window:
This works in all versions of Mac OS X to change the default app to open PDF files.
Choosing “Change All” will switch all like documents to open with that newly chosen application alongside the “Open With” option, so in this case it will restore the leaner and very capable Preview app as the default PDF viewer in OS X and prevent the lengthy launch of Acrobat anytime a PDF is opened.
If you want a quick PDF file to use for this tip, you can grab the Apple history book “The Macintosh Way” for free (direct PDF link), or just launch any other PDF file sitting around on your Mac. The speedy Preview app will now be the default app to open the PDF document.
Of course, this tip will be of less use if you need the full functioned Adobe Acrobat version on your Mac and use that for it’s powerful PDF editing capabilities. With that said, for the average person just looking to quickly open pdf docs this can be a significant time saver as it reduces application launch time, and potentially allows for less software to be installed on the Mac. With how functional Preview is, for many users there isn’t much purpose to install Adobe Acrobat Reader on a Mac, so if you find that it takes over the PDF capabilities (amongst other things), you can change the viewer back to Preview, and then even go so far as to remove Acrobat Reader if desired.