How to Change Preview to Word on Mac

Mac computers are the go-to choice for creative professionals all around the world due to their seamless user interface. However, even with all the built-in features on Mac computers, there are some tasks that might not be as straightforward as you’d like them to be. One of the most common issues that Mac users face is trying to change Preview to Word. This can be frustrating, especially if you need to work with MS Word frequently. In this article, we’ll be discussing why you need to know how to change Preview to Word and listing different methods to do so.

Video Tutorial:

Why You Need to Change Preview to Word

MS Word is one of the most widely used word processors, and as such, it’s a crucial tool for many professions, from freelance writers to lawyers. However, sometimes when you try to open a Word document on a Mac, it automatically opens in Preview, which can be frustrating. Even though Preview is a great tool for viewing images and documents, it might not be the right choice for sophisticated formatting or editing, which is where MS Word comes in handy.

It’s also important to bear in mind that Preview doesn’t offer all the features of MS Word. For instance, Preview might not be able to open some documents that have advanced features, like tables, headers, and footers, or comments, to mention a few.

Method 1: Using the Right-Click Menu

The simplest method to change Preview to Word is by using the right-click menu. Follow these detailed steps to convert your document from Preview to Word:

  1. Right-click on the Preview document you want to convert.
  2. Select ‘Open With’ from the dropdown menu.
  3. Select ‘Microsoft Word’ from the list of available options. If MS Word isn’t listed, click on ‘Other’ and select Word from the list of options.
  4. The Word document will open, and you can apply any additional edits as needed.


  • Quick and easy
  • No need for third-party software
  • Suitable for basic document conversions


  • Not suitable for large or complex documents that require significant formatting improvements.
  • Not suitable for batch document conversions

Method 2: Using ‘Export’ Function in Preview

If you’re dealing with a PDF file or a document that Preview can handle better, this method can be suitable for you. Follow these steps to use Preview’s ‘Export’ function:

  1. Open the Preview document you want to convert.
  2. Click on ‘File’ on the top menu bar.
  3. Click on ‘Export as PDF’.
  4. Select the location where you’d like to save the PDF file.
  5. Open MS Word and click on ‘File’ on the top menu bar.
  6. Click on ‘Open’ and select the PDF file that you saved earlier.
  7. Once the document is open, click on ‘File’ again, then select ‘Save As’ and choose the format you want to save the file as a Word document.


  • Useful for complex documents with a lot of formatting
  • No need for third-party software


  • Complicated method – might require extra work and time
  • Suitable for single document conversions only
  • Chance of data loss in the conversion process

Method 3: Using a Third-Party App

If you’re regularly working with documents that need to be converted from Preview to Word, it might be worth it to invest in a third-party app. Such apps are designed to simplify the document conversion process and could help you save time. Here are the detailed steps to use a third-party app:

  1. Go to the App Store and search for an app that can convert PDFs to Word documents.
  2. Download the app of your choice and follow the installation instructions.
  3. Open the app and drag and drop the Preview file you want to convert.
  4. Choose the output format as MS Word and click on ‘Convert.’
  5. The app will convert the document and save the Word file to your chosen location.


  • Suitable for large-scale document conversions.
  • Time-saving method
  • Automatic formatting


  • Extra cost
  • Possible security risks
  • Chance of data loss during the conversion process

What to Do If You Can’t Change Preview to Word

If you’ve tried all the methods above and are still unable to convert from Preview to Word, there could be a few things you can try:

  • Restart your Mac and try the method again
  • Update both Preview and MS Word to the latest version
  • Convert the document to a different format, such as a Rich Text document, before converting it to word.
  • Contact technical support for further assistance.

Bonus Tip

If you’re converting from other formats, like HTML or CSV, there are dedicated third-party apps that can help you with the conversion process, like ‘Adobe Acrobat’ or ‘PandaDoc.’ These apps might require subscriptions, but the investment could pay off in the long run.

5 FAQs

Q: How can I prevent Preview from opening my documents automatically?

A: You can change the default app for opening a particular file format. Right-click on the document you want to set the default app for, select ‘Get Info,’ then click on ‘Open With.’ Choose the app you want to use and click on ‘Change All.’

Q: What’s the difference between Preview and Adobe Acrobat?

A: Adobe Acrobat is a dedicated PDF editor with advanced features like OCR (Optical Character Recognition), page extraction, and digital signing. Preview is a built-in Mac app that can handle documents, images, and PDFs with basic editing features.

Q: What other alternatives are there to MS Word?

A: Other alternatives to MS Word include Google Docs, Pages (for Mac), LibreOffice Writer, and OpenOffice Writer.

Q: Can I convert a password-protected PDF to a Word document?

A: Yes, you can, but you’ll need to enter the password first to open the document. You can then follow the same steps to convert the document to a Word file.

Q: Can I convert a group of documents from Preview to Word all at once?

A: Yes, you can. You’ll need to use a third-party app like ‘BatchOutput DOC’ or ‘PDF2Office for iWork’ that can handle batch conversions.

Final Thoughts

Changing Preview to Word can be a daunting task, but it’s essential if you want to work with a more advanced word processor. This article has outlined the different methods you can use to convert documents from Preview to Word, along with their pros and cons. Keep in mind that each method is suited for different documents and circumstances, so choose the one that’s most appropriate. If none of the methods work, try the fixes we’ve listed here. Lastly, always make sure you’re running updated versions of both Preview and MS Word to avoid any issues.