How to Choose Your Default Apps on the iPhone

Yes, if you're running iOS 14 or you're jailbroken

What to Know

  • Every iPhone ships with a set of on-board apps, some of which you can't delete, and others of which are mandatory default apps.
  • On iOS 14 and up, you can change the default for some types of apps.
  • You can also jailbreak your device to over to a preferred app.
  • ​​MailClientDefault10 can swap email apps, MapsOpener can set Google Maps as a default, and BrowserChooser changes browsers.

This article explains in detail how default apps work on the iPhone, how to change default apps on the iPhone in some cases, and more.

The information in this article applies to iPhones and iPod touches running iOS 10 and up.

How Default Apps Work on iPhone

The word "default" means two things when it comes to iPhone apps. First, it means apps that come pre-installed on your iPhone when it ships to you from the factor (or when you reset the phone to factory settings).

In the second case, default apps are the apps that are always used to do a certain thing. For example, when you tap a website link in an email, it always opens in Safari. That makes Safari the default web browser on your iPhone. When a website includes a physical address and you tap it to get directions, Apple Maps launches because it is the default mapping app.

There are many apps that do the same things. Google Maps is ​an alternative app for navigation. Many people use Spotify rather than Apple Music for music streaming. Others prefer Chrome for web browsing instead of Safari. Anyone can install these apps on their iPhone. But what if you want to always use Google Maps instead of Apple Maps? What if you want links to open in Chrome every time?

How to Change Default iPhone Apps on iOS 14 and Up

It used to be that you couldn't pick default apps on your iPhone. But that changed in iOS 14. If you're running that version of the iOS, or newer, you can now pick default iPhone apps other than the ones that come with the factory settings.

For now, you can only pick default iPhone apps in a couple of categories: web browser and email. No other categories of app support changing the default app, but it wouldn't be a surprise if that changes in the future. The options for the default apps are:

App Category Default Options
Web Browser Safari DuckDuckGo
Google Chrome
Microsoft Edge
Email Mail Gmail
Microsoft Outlook

Here's how to change your default web browser or email app on iOS 14 and up:

Screenshots of setting default web browser app on iOS 14.
  1. If you don't already have the app you want to set as the new default on your iPhone, get it at the App Store.

  2. With that done, tap Settings.

  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the Settings screen and find tap the app you want to make the default.

  4. Tap Default Browser App or Default Mail App.

  5. Tap the app you want to set as the default.

  6. Your choice will be automatically saved. Return to using your iPhone the way you want and, whenever you open a link or start a new email, your selection from step 5 will be your new default.

You Can't Change iOS Default Apps on iOS 13 and Earlier

If you're running iOS 13 or earlier and are looking to change your default iPhone apps, it's not possible. You'll need to upgrade to iOS 14.

In the past, Apple didn't allow people to make certain kinds of customizations. One of the blocked customizations was choosing your default apps.

Apple didn't allow this kind of customization because it wanted to ensure that all iPhone users enjoy a similar experience, with a baseline level of quality and expected behavior.

The other reason that its apps are the default is that doing that brings Apple more users. Consider the Music app. By making it the default music app, Apple has acquired over 35 million paying customers for its Apple Music service. That's over US$350 million in monthly revenue. If it allowed customers to set Spotify as their default, Apple would likely lose some percentage of those customers.

Illustration of a person unable to move the Weather app on their iPhone
Derek Abella / Lifewire

For Jailbreakers: Some Good News

There is another way to change at least some default apps: jailbreaking. Jailbreaking removes some of the controls Apple places on the iPhone.

If your phone is jailbroken, you won't be able to change every default app, but you can change a couple using the following jailbreak apps:

  • Email: ​​MailClientDefault10 makes Gmail, Outlook, Spark, or Inbox your default email app.
  • Maps: MapsOpener sets Google Maps as your default.
  • Browser: BrowserChooser changes your default web browser to something other than Safari.

While these options may seem appealing, jailbreaking isn't for everyone. The process requires technical skill and it could damage your iPhone or void its warranty so Apple will no longer provide support. Jailbreaking can even open your phone to viruses.

How to Delete Default Apps on iPhone

Apple's tight control​ over the iPhone and its software will probably never completely go away, but it's getting looser. While it used to be impossible to delete the apps that come with the iPhone, in iOS 10, Apple made it possible to delete some of these apps, including Calculator, Home, Watch, Reminders, Stocks, and more.