thanks so much. I'll give that a go. Strange to me that I can't just open stored files from the field.
" I can only open the files stored in the directory if f I navigate to that directory within the finder."
Just as an aside, under NO circumstances should you ever do this. The likelihood of corrupting the link between the database and the external asset is high. Should this occur, FileMaker will lose track of the asset and you won't be able to get to it from the database.
Use a scripted method or Export Field Contents to achieve access.
If you know the path of the externally-stored container data, you can use the Open URL script step to open the file.
However, opening container data directly runs a very high risk of causing FM to consider that data "tampered" and quit recognizing it.
The only safe ways to use external open-stored container data outside of FM are to either export the content from FMP and then open the exported copy, or to copy the file directly from the external data storage area and paste the copy elsewhere, opening only the pasted copy. Opening the stored data from outside of FM is not safe for the integrity of the container data.