How to Set Excel as Default on Mac

How to Set Excel as Default on Mac

As a Mac user, you might have noticed that when you double-click on a spreadsheet file, it opens in a different application than Microsoft Excel. This can be frustrating, especially if you prefer using Excel for your work. Fortunately, setting Excel as the default application for opening spreadsheets is a quick and easy process. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps to set Excel as default on your Mac.

What is a Default Application?

Before we dive into the steps to make Excel the default app on your Mac, let’s first understand what a default application is. A default application is the program that automatically opens files of a particular type or format when you double-click them. For example, if you have multiple web browsers installed on your computer, you can select one of them as the default browser so that all web links open in that browser by default.

On macOS, every file type has an associated default application. For instance, PDF files open with Preview by default. However, if you prefer using Adobe Reader instead of Preview to view PDFs, you can change the default app accordingly. Similarly, if Numbers or Google Sheets are currently set as your spreadsheet’s default app and want to use Microsoft Excel instead, then follow our step-by-step guide below.

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Why Set Excel as Default on Mac?

Excel is a versatile and powerful spreadsheet application that enables you to create complex calculations, analyze data, and visualize information in different ways. If you work with spreadsheets frequently, then setting Excel as the default app can save you time and effort. Here are some benefits of using Excel as your default spreadsheet application:

1. Better Compatibility

Excel is widely used across industries, making it easier to share and collaborate on files with colleagues or clients who also use the application. By setting Excel as your default app, you’ll be able to open files received from others without having to import them manually.

2. Increased Productivity

Using your preferred app as the default for opening files can streamline your workflow and increase productivity. You won’t have to spend time searching for the right app every time you want to open a file.

3. More Advanced Features

Compared to other spreadsheet apps like Numbers or Google Sheets, Microsoft Excel offers more advanced features, such as PivotTables and conditional formatting, that can help you organize and analyze large amounts of data more efficiently.

Steps to Set Excel as Default on Mac

Now that we’ve discussed why setting Excel as your default spreadsheet app is beneficial let’s dive into how to do it in just a few simple steps:

Step 1: Locate an Excel File

Locate an existing excel file on your computer or create a new one.

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Step 2: Get Info on the File

Right-click (or Ctrl-click) on the file icon and select “Get Info” from the drop-down menu.

Step 3: Change Open With Settings

Under “Open With,” select “Microsoft Excel” from the drop-down menu.

Step 4: Confirm Changes

Click “Change All” if you want all files with this extension (.xls/.xlsx) to open with Microsoft Excel by default.

Alternative Methods for Different Versions of Mac OS

If you are using an older version of Mac OS, the steps to set Excel as your default app might differ slightly. However, the concept remains the same. Here are some alternative methods to set Excel as your default app on different versions of Mac OS:

For macOS Catalina (10.15) and later versions:

  1. Go to “System Preferences” and select “General.”
  2. Under “Default web browser,” click “Excel” from the dropdown menu.
  3. Close the window, and you’re all set.

For macOS Mojave (10.14):

  1. Open Finder and find an Excel file.
  2. Right-click on it and select “Get Info.”
  3. Expand the section called “Open With.”
  4. Choose Microsoft Excel from the list of available applications.
  5. Click on “Change All.”

By following these simple steps, you can make Microsoft Excel your default spreadsheet application on Mac OS quickly and easily!

Troubleshooting Common Issues

While setting Excel as the default application on your Mac is a straightforward process, you may encounter some common problems along the way. Here are some solutions to help you troubleshoot these issues:

Excel Doesn’t Appear in the “Open With” Menu

If Excel doesn’t appear in the “Open With” menu when you right-click on a spreadsheet file, it could be because it’s not installed on your computer. Ensure that you have Microsoft Office installed and updated to the latest version.

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The Default App Keeps Resetting

Sometimes, even after successfully setting Excel as the default app for spreadsheets, macOS might reset it to a different app. To resolve this issue, try resetting the Launch Services database by running a command in Terminal. Open Terminal and enter “sudo /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Frameworks/LaunchServices.framework/Support/lsregister -kill -r -domain local -domain system -domain user” (without quotes) and press Enter.

Additional Tips and Tricks

Here are some additional tips and tricks to enhance your experience of using Excel on Mac:

Customizing Ribbon and Toolbar

Excel allows users to customize their toolbar and ribbon for quick access to frequently used commands or options. To customize your toolbar or ribbon, right-click on any existing command or option in the toolbar or ribbon and select “Customize Toolbar/Ribbon.” From there, you can add or remove items according to your preference.

Recommended Shortcuts and Tools

Learning keyboard shortcuts can significantly improve your productivity while working with Excel on Mac. Some essential shortcuts include Command + C for copy, Command + V for paste, Command + S for save, and Command + Z for undo. Additionally, tools like PivotTables can help analyze large sets of data more effectively.

By following these tips and tricks along with setting Excel as default on Mac, you’ll be able to work more efficiently and smoothly with Excel on your Mac.


Setting Excel as the default application for spreadsheets on your Mac is a simple process that can save you time and frustration. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can make sure that all of your spreadsheet files open in Excel by default.

Not only will this streamline your workflow, but it will also ensure that you’re using the program you know and love. Remember to troubleshoot any issues you encounter during the process, and use additional tips and tricks to customize your Excel experience on Mac OS.

In conclusion, making Excel the default app for spreadsheets on your Mac is a straightforward process that can help boost productivity and efficiency. Whether you’re a student, business professional, or just someone who regularly works with spreadsheets, setting Excel as your default app will undoubtedly improve your user experience. So go ahead and give it a try!

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