What the Heck Is This?

Default App is a utility for Mac OS 9 (and Mac OS 8) that allows you to open documents matching certain file/creator types with the applications you specify, instead of the applications that created those documents. For instance, Default App can be configured so that when you double-click a SimpleText document in the Finder, it gets opened in a more powerful text editor, like Style or Tex-Edit Plus. Or you can have Script Editor compiled scripts opened with Script Debugger. Or Internet Explorer documents opened with Mozilla. Well, you get the idea.

How Do I Configure Default App?

Suppose you want to configure Default App so that SimpleText read-only documents (the ones with the gray newspaper icon) are opened with Style (a cool text editor by yours truly):

1. Open Default App. You are presented with a window with two panels: a Document Kinds panel on the left and an Applications panel on the right (see the figure).

Default App

2. Drag a SimpleText read-only document from the Finder to the Document Kinds panel.

3. Drag Style from the Finder to the Applications panel.

4. Click the SimpleText read-only document icon in the Document Kinds panel.

5. Click the Style icon in the Applications panel.

6. That's it! You have established a mapping.

To make sure it really works, double-click the SimpleText document in the Finder (you don't even have to close the control panel first).

Now suppose you want to undo this mapping, so that SimpleText documents are once again opened normally, using SimpleText:

1. Open Default App.

2. Click the SimpleText document icon in the Document Kinds panel.

3. Hit delete.

Simple, huh?

How Do I Install Default App?

Just drag Default App onto your system folder icon. The Finder will ask you if you want to put it in your Control Panels folder, where it belongs. Click OK. That's all.

By the way, you don't need to restart your computer in order for Default App to start working.

Frequently Asked Questions

q Is Default App compatible with Mac OS 9.x?
a Yes it is. Default App works with any version of the Mac OS from 8.0 through 9.2.2.

q What about Mac OS X?
a Default App does not work with Mac OS X and I have no plans to make a version that does. The mechanism for binding documents to applications is significantly different in Mac OS X (the four-letter type and creator codes familiar to long-time Macintosh users are no longer the only factors in the binding process). Also, the Finder "hook" exploited by Default App in Mac OS 8 and 9 is no longer present in Mac OS X.

q Can you make a version of Default App that works with System 7.x?
a Probably yes, but chances are it would have to patch traps or otherwise interact with the Finder in ugly ways. Default App does its magic by using a little known (but documented) "hook" introduced in version 8.0 of the Finder specifically for this purpose (if you're curious, this hook is documented in technote #1102). It doesn't patch any traps or do anything else that's likely to jeopardize the stability of the system.

q Does Default App have anything to do with MacOS Easy Open?
a No. Default App and MacOS Easy Open are two totally different pieces of software that serves different purposes. Easy Open gets into play when the creator of the document is missing — it does nothing if you have the creator application installed. Default App, on the other hand, is meant mostly for those cases when the creator application is present, but you don't want to use it (SimpleText being a typical case). And by the way, Default App doesn't touch the Easy Open mappings database.

q Can you base the app selection on the last three characters of the file name (i.e., on the DOS/Windoze extension)?
a Good suggestion. This is supported starting from version 1.0b3 (see below).

q Default App doesn't seem to work on my mac. I drag a document to the left-hand panel, then the application I want it opened with to the right-hand panel, but nothing happens. Also, when I later re-open Default App, both panels are empty.
a Please take a look at the instructions once again. You are performing steps 1, 2 and 3 correctly, but you are neglecting steps 4 and 5. When you're finished, please make sure a message like "SimpleText documents will be opened with Style" appears at the bottom of the Default App window before closing it.

Version History

1997-08-17  1.0d0    First attempt: Default App is a faceless application
1997-08-19  1.0b1    Completely rewritten as a small extension
1997-12-28  1.0b2    Rewritten as a MacOS 8-style control panel
1998-01-26  1.0b3    Some bug fixes, IC mappings support (experimental)
1998-04-21  1.0      First final release
1999-08-15  1.0.1b2  Addresses an issue with generic mappings
1999-08-30  1.0.1    Second final release

File Extension Mappings

Default App can be configured to map documents to applications based on file name extensions (e.g., ".gif" or ".txt"). To enable this advanced feature, choose "Options..." from the Edit menu and check the box in the dialog that appears:

Options dialog

To edit file extension mappings, choose "File Extension Mappings..." from the Edit menu. This will open the corresponding window in the Internet control panel or, previous to Mac OS 8.5, in the Internet Config application.

What's New in Version 1.0.1?

What Was New in Version 1.0?

Technical Support

If you have questions, suggestions, words of appreciation or bug reports, feel free to contact us. Feedback is welcome. Our support email address can be found in the Read Me file that comes with Default App.