There are two sets of applications where I'm running into this issue:

  • iWork, where I only have the new stuff installed because Software Update harasses you to install the new stuff if it detects you only have the old stuff
  • Office 2016, which I've discovered fixes everything I liked about Office 2011

When iWork first came out I tried telling the system to open all .numbers, .pages, and .keynote files with the '09 versions of the applications by default, but it ended up ignoring that preference and launched the new versions anyway. As such I've gotten accustomed to just going to the Applications folder, opening up the old version manually, and then dropping whatever I want to edit into the open app.

Office is a bit more integral to what I do, however, and I'm really not looking forward to having to do more of this. Is there some sort of setting, terminal command, script, etc. that I can set to force the use of an older version by default?


If you want to open specific file types with a certain default application, e.g., .docx or .pages:

1) right-click on any of those files, hold down the option key and click on "Show Inspector".

2) Choose your default application, e.g., Office 2011 Word, from the "open with" menu

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3) Click on the "change all" button just below the "open with" tab

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To open a file with the non-default application from a terminal, you can use open -a path/to/application file.

From the man page:

The open command opens a file (or a directory or URL), just as if you had double-clicked the file's icon. If no application name is specified, the default application as determined via LaunchServices is used to open the specified files.

The options are as follows:

-a application Specifies the application to use for opening the file

Though, this does not change the default application. But the man-page suggests that there might be a way to change the default application in LaunchServices.

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