29 Jul 2016

Simpler and More Sensible File Associations

I installed a new video player app, and I wanted videos to open in it. So I changed the file association for .mp4 files. When I later double-clicked a video file, it opened in QuickTime Player, to my surprise, and not the new player. It turned out that the file extension was m4v, not mp4. Come on! They're the same thing! In any case, I changed the association for m4v. But the story repeated for .mov files. And so on. I could never get the new player I installed to play all videos.

Lest you think this is specific to videos, I had the same problem when I installed LibreOffice and wanted to open spreadsheets with it. I changed the file association for xlsx, but Numbers kept opening for xls files, which I fixed, but Numbers still opens for csv files.

This saga repeated for a new text editor I installed.

No matter how many times I tell macOS what I want, it doesn't do that. Random apps keep opening. This is irritating. I no longer feel that I'm in control. Which isn't a feeling software should create in users.

macOS should fix this by having a one-click option, "Open all files with <app name>". For example, if I tell the OS to open all files with LibreOffice, then all files that LibreOffice supports should open with it — doc(x), xls(s), ppt(x), and all the other extensions. I shouldn't need to change them one by one, always forgetting something. I don't even need to know the exhaustive list of all the extensions a particular app supports.

macOS should also have an option to change associations for all files of a certain type, like Photos, Videos, Music, Documents and Programming (source files). Don't make me pedantically tell it what to do for each file extension videos use. Spare me the technical trivia and just do what I want.

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