Default application on dubbel click

Hi all

Does anyone know of a way to change DTPro’s behaviour when dubbelklicking on a pdf? I would like to either set the preview app as default or perhaps pdfpen… Would be great if someone knew how to get this done.


Double-clicking opens always a document window (in case of supported formats), to open the document externally use Data > Open With > …, the shortcut Cmd-Shift-O for the default application or the optional toolbar item.

The Preview window which opens each time a document is double clicked is useless for many purposes (for my own I can’t find any use of this at all because a can see the very same content in the built in preview pane). Since DT relies on humble Quicklook functionality to show Word documents it’s a cutoff in my workflow not to be able to click on a document to open it in its native app. Please give us the ability to configure that – seems not to be a big thing.


cmd+shift+o is just as fast…

That’s right, thanks for the hint. But to do this I need to click the file first to highlight it then I need to type the keys. It would be much faster just to double click instead of clicking and then typing. And by the way – if usability is a concern of Devon Technologies this should not be a point of discussion.

Not necessarily. Depending on context/focus, typing can be used to navigate to and select a match document (similar, but not identical to Finder behavior). And I often make use that functionality (instead of Shift-Command-A) to deselect any currently selected document(s) by typing a character (e.g. ‘0’ or ‘z’) that won’t match the first char of any documents.


Almost always when I double-click on a PDF or other document, I want to open it in it’s own window within DEVONthink, not externally.

Some filetype extensions are used by multiple applications, and with potential loss of information if the document is edited and saved under the wrong application. For example, MS Word, TextEdit, Nisus, Bean and others all edit and save documents with the .RTF filename extension, but use different formatting and layout commands for rich text documents. If, for example, a Nisus document is opened, edited and saved under TextEdit or Bean, important information used by Nisus could be lost. Another example is hybrid PDFs used by applications such as Pagehand and Papyrus; these use the .PDF filename extension, but would no longer be editable under the “true” parent application if modified by Preview. Unfortunately, OS X doesn’t make these distinctions automatically.

This means that a simple double-click to open a document under an external application could be very dangerous for some users. The “Open With…” command is appropriate, as it allows the user to choose the application most appropriate for a given document.

An alternative way to open a selected document under its “native” application (as defined in the Finder) is to click on the “Open Externally” icon in the Toolbar. Note that, if a PDF is selected and Preview has been defined as the parent application in the Finder, the “Open Externally” icon will show Preview as the application that will open the PDF.

Thanks a lot for the replies. But don’t get me wrong folks – I know all that. And so I come back to my first plea: Just let us configure that and everybody will get the best out of it.

I got the impression from Bill’s comment:

This means that a simple double-click to open a document under an external application could be very dangerous for some users.

… that Dtech doesn’t want to go down a potentially slippery slope even by making it a configurable preference, e.g. because of support issues for people who mistakenly damage data by using it without realizing the risks. As Bill adds:

The “Open With…” command is appropriate, as it allows the user to choose the application most appropriate for a given document.

Maybe that’s the mechanism they want people to use because, for one reason, they consider it less risky? Also, they’ve publicly stated (several times) they want to minimize adding preferences.

»Less is more« may not be helpful for all things in life. I think not the amount of preferences is really a problem but the way you present it to the user. But I have also to acknowledge that I prefer lesser settings and intuitive overall functionality. And I understand that not every user idea can be included in a complex software project. But patronizing the user due to the belief of having found that one way of doing something right is not an appropriate solution in my opinion.

And those like we’re discussing could toss up severe-sounding warning dialogs when toggled to more risky settings. Or only be (un)set with “defaults write …” or other mechanism intended to make them less vulnerable to maladjustments.

Regardless, it’s nearly inevitable someone will do something against they own better interest and sometimes in the emotional heat of the moment be eager to cast blame rather than accept responsibility.

But that doesn’t imply everyone else be penalized by attempts to prevent that from occurring.

Of course this is debatable from different perspectives that all have valid, reasonable points in their favor.

DT and DA seem to qualify as relatively complex, enough to be too intimidating for some users.

I can be guilty (gulp) of making that impression even though it’s not my intention. I often make an effort to state reasons behind positions I’m expressing, with mixed results. It doesn’t imply I’m taking a hard stand on matters; it’s more an exploration for acceptable and hopefully satisfying possibilities, even with disagreements and compromises. That’s basically what I was doing in my speculative interpretation of Bill’s remarks. And I noticed some of that flavor of multi-sided feedback in your reply, which helped inspire me to post this. :slight_smile:

What would you suggest as an appropriate solution? Or maybe I’ve drifted too far off the primary topic …