Opening Files in Mac OS X Lion - dummies

Opening Files in Mac OS X Lion

By Bob LeVitus

Opening files on a modern Mac is pretty simple. You can open any icon in the Mac OS X Lion Finder, whether it’s a file or a folder, in at least six ways.

  • Click the icon once to select it and then choose File→Open.

  • Click the icon twice in rapid succession.

    If the icon doesn’t open, you double-clicked too slowly.

  • Select the icon and then press either Command+O or Command+Down Arrow.

  • Right-click or Control-click it and then choose Open from the contextual menu.

  • If the icon is a document, drag it onto the application icon (or the Dock icon of an application) that can open that type of document.

  • If the icon is a document, right-click or Control-click it and then choose an application from the Open With submenu of the contextual menu.

You can also open any document icon from within a Mac OS X Lion application, of course. Here’s how that works:

  1. Just launch your favorite program, and choose File→Open (or press Command+O, which works in most Mac programs).


    When you use a program’s Open dialog, only files that the program knows how to open appear enabled (in black rather than light gray) in the file list. In effect, the program filters out the files it can’t open, so you barely see them in the Open dialog. This method of selectively displaying certain items in Open dialogs is a feature of most applications.

  2. In the dialog, simply navigate to (or click) the file you want to open

    Click All My Files in the Sidebar or use Spotlight if you can’t remember where the file resides.

  3. Select your file, and click the Open button.

Some applications allow you to select multiple files in their Open dialogs by holding down either Shift (for contiguous selections) or Command (for noncontiguous selections). If you need to open several files, it’s worth a try; the worst thing that could happen is that it won’t work and you’ll have to open the items one at a time.

Some programs, including Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop, have a Show or Format menu in their Open dialogs. This menu lets you specify the type(s) of files you want to see in the Open dialog. You can often open a file that appears dimmed by choosing All Documents from the Show or Format menu (in those applications with Open dialogs that offer such a menu).