Fixing The Application Preview Can’t Be Opened Error on Mac

Having trouble opening application previews on your Mac? Here’s how to fix the “Can’t be opened” error.

Attempt Opening Different Files

If you’re encountering the “Application Preview Can’t Be Opened” error on your Mac, here are some steps you can take to fix it:

1. Update your macOS: Make sure you’re running the latest version of macOS, such as macOS Sierra or macOS Big Sur, as this can often resolve compatibility issues.

2. Restart your Mac: Sometimes, a simple restart can fix minor software glitches. Press the Apple menu in the top-left corner of your screen and select “Restart.”

3. Check file formats: Ensure that the files you’re trying to open in Preview, such as PDFs, JPEGs, or PNGs, are compatible with the application. Some file formats may require additional software like Adobe Inc.’s Acrobat Reader.

4. Clear Preview’s preferences: Open Finder and navigate to the “Library” directory on your Mac. Locate the “Preferences” folder and find the file named “” Move this file to the Trash, then restart Preview.

5. Reset the Preview app: Press and hold the Option key on your keyboard, then click the Preview icon in your Dock. Select “Reset Preview” from the drop-down list that appears.

6. Use Quick Look: If Preview still won’t open your files, try using Quick Look instead. Select the file in Finder, then press the Space bar to preview it without opening it in Preview.

7. Reinstall Preview: If all else fails, you can reinstall the Preview app. Go to the Mac App Store and search for Preview. Click the “Download” button to reinstall the app.

Force Quit and Relaunch

1. Press Command + Option + Escape simultaneously to bring up the Force Quit Applications window.
2. In the window, locate and select the application preview that is causing the error.
3. Click on the “Force Quit” button to close the application forcefully.

Once the application preview has been force quit, you can relaunch it by following these steps:

1. Go to the Finder software on your Mac by clicking on the Finder icon in the Dock or selecting the Finder from the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen.
2. In the Finder menu bar, click on “Go” and select “Applications” from the drop-down list.
3. Locate the application preview in the Applications folder.
4. Double-click on the application preview to relaunch it.

By force quitting and relaunching the application preview, you can often resolve the “Can’t Be Opened” error on your Mac. If the issue persists, you may need to troubleshoot further or seek assistance from Apple support.

Perform a Mac Restart

1. Click on the Apple menu in the menu bar.
2. Select “Restart” from the drop-down menu.
3. A confirmation message will appear. Click “Restart” to proceed.
4. Wait for your Mac to shut down and restart.

This simple process can help resolve various software issues, including the “Application Preview Can’t Be Opened” error on your Mac. By restarting your Mac, you refresh the system and clear any temporary glitches that may be causing the error.

Ensure macOS Is Current

1. Update macOS: Go to the Apple menu, select “System Preferences,” and click on “Software Update.” Install any available updates to ensure you have the latest version of macOS.

2. Restart your Mac: After updating macOS, restart your computer to apply the changes and clear any temporary issues that may be causing the error.

3. Reset Preview preferences: Sometimes, the error can be caused by corrupted preferences. To fix this, reset Preview preferences by deleting the file. You can find this file in the ~/Library/Preferences/ directory.

4. Clear cache and temporary files: Clearing the cache and temporary files related to Preview can help resolve the error. Use a utility like CleanMyMac or manually delete the cache files located in the ~/Library/Caches/ directory.

5. Reinstall Preview: If the error persists, you can try reinstalling the Preview app. Open the App Store, search for Preview, and click on the “Install” button to download and reinstall the app.

Implement a Preview Reset

1. Quit the Preview application if it’s currently open.
2. Open Finder on your Mac.
3. Go to the “Go” menu in the menu bar and select “Go to Folder.”
4. Type “~/Library/Containers/” and click “Go.”
5. Locate the file named “” and move it to the Trash.
6. Restart your Mac.
7. After restarting, open the Preview application again.

By resetting the Preview preferences, you should be able to resolve the error and open the application without any issues.

If you still encounter the error after following these steps, you may need to update your macOS to the latest version or apply any available patches. Additionally, make sure the file you’re trying to open is not corrupted or in an unsupported format.

If you have any further questions or need more assistance, refer to the FAQ section on Apple’s website or reach out to their support team.

Boot in Safe Mode

To boot your Mac in Safe Mode and fix the “Application Preview Can’t Be Opened” error, follow these steps:

1. Shut down your Mac completely.
2. Press the power button to turn it on, and immediately press and hold the Shift key.
3. Keep holding the Shift key until you see the Apple logo and a progress bar.
4. Release the Shift key once the login window appears.
5. Log in to your Mac and you’ll be in Safe Mode, indicated by the words “Safe Boot” in red letters in the top-right corner of the screen.

In Safe Mode, your Mac will perform a basic startup that only loads essential system files and disables third-party software, which can help resolve various issues, including the “Application Preview Can’t Be Opened” error.

Once in Safe Mode, you can try opening the Preview application again and see if the error persists. If it doesn’t, you can restart your Mac normally and use Preview without any issues.

If the error still occurs in Safe Mode, you may need to further troubleshoot the issue by checking for software updates, repairing disk permissions, or resetting the Preview preferences. These steps are beyond the scope of this guide, but you can find more detailed instructions in the macOS user guide or by visiting Apple’s support website.

Remember to back up your important files before making any changes or troubleshooting steps to avoid potential data loss.

By booting your Mac in Safe Mode, you can isolate and resolve software conflicts or issues that may be causing the “Application Preview Can’t Be Opened” error.

Opt for macOS Reinstallation

If you’re encountering the “Application Preview Can’t Be Opened” error on your Mac, opting for macOS reinstallation can help resolve the issue. Follow these steps to reinstall macOS and fix the error:

1. Backup your important files and data to ensure you don’t lose any important information during the reinstallation process.

2. Restart your Mac and hold down the Command + R keys immediately after hearing the startup sound. This will boot your Mac into macOS Recovery mode.

3. In macOS Recovery, select “Reinstall macOS” from the utilities window.

4. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the reinstallation process. This will reinstall a fresh copy of macOS on your Mac.

5. After the reinstallation is complete, restore your files and data from the backup you created earlier.

By reinstalling macOS, you can often resolve application errors like “Application Preview Can’t Be Opened” and ensure your Mac is running smoothly.


How do I enable Preview on my Mac?

To enable Preview on your Mac, click the Finder icon in the Dock to open a Finder window, then select the folder or file you want to preview. If the Preview pane is not visible on the right, go to View > Show Preview.

How do I reset my Mac Preview app?

To reset your Mac Preview app, you can follow these steps:

1. Close the Preview app if it is currently open.
2. Go to the “Finder” menu and select “Go” from the top menu bar.
3. Press and hold the “Option” key on your keyboard, and then click on the “Library” option that appears.
4. In the Library folder, locate and open the “Containers” folder.
5. Look for the folder named “” and move it to the trash.
6. Empty the trash to completely remove the Preview app preferences.
7. Restart your Mac.
8. Open the Preview app again, and it should now be reset to its default settings.

Why can’t I open Preview on my Mac?

You may not be able to open Preview on your Mac if there is a bug in the version of macOS you are using. To resolve this issue, update your Mac to the latest software version by clicking on the Apple menu and selecting About this Mac.

Why does my Mac keep saying application Cannot be opened?

Your Mac keeps saying “application cannot be opened” for a few possible reasons. It could be due to insufficient privileges, a damaged app, or the app not being installed. If you are not an administrator, the administrator might have restricted your access to the app. In such cases, it is best to reach out to the administrator of your Mac for assistance.

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