How to Set and Clear Default Apps in Android

A few simple steps can save on frustration

Your smartphone came with various apps, and you have probably installed more since you got the phone. If you have more apps on your smartphone than you use, it may be time to do some spring cleaning. If you have several apps that perform the same task but don't want to delete them, decide which app is the default.

For example, when you open a photo, you can use the Gallery app (or another image app you downloaded) always or once. If you choose always to open the Gallery app, then that app is the default. If you change your mind and don't want to use the Gallery app, change the default app to a different image app.

The directions here should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, or Xiaomi.

How to Clear Default Apps

In the past, there were several ways to clear defaults, depending on the phone manufacturer and the version of Android. Current versions of Android offer a single and direct way to clear defaults on a per-app basis.

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Tap Apps & notifications.

  3. Tap Open all apps or See all [#] apps to see the full list of apps on your device.

  4. Scroll down and tap the app that you want to clear as the default.

    Apps & notifications with all apps displayed
  5. Tap Open by default.

  6. Tap CLEAR DEFAULTS to clear out the default actions that you set.

    If the app is set as the default for some actions, you'll see a You've chosen to launch this app by default message and a CLEAR DEFAULTS option. If the app is not set as the default, you'll see No defaults set and the CLEAR DEFAULTS option is grayed out.

  7. After the defaults are cleared, the page refreshes and displays a No defaults set message and the CLEAR DEFAULTS option is grayed out.

    Android Open by default, Clear Defaults, No defaults set
  8. The default actions that you set for that app are cleared, and you can assign another app as the default app for that action.

How to Set Default Apps

When you tap a link or open a file, you're offered a choice of apps. After you select an app, select Always to make it the default or select Just once if you want to use another app in the future. If you want to be proactive, set up default apps in the Settings app.

The options differ slightly based on the version of Android and the device. Some manufacturers install their own defaults and give limited capability to make changes.

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Tap Apps & notifications.

  3. Tap Advanced.

  4. Tap Default apps.

    Apps & notifications in Android Settings
  5. Select a category to change. For example, choose a default web browser, phone app, or SMS app.

  6. In the list of available apps in that category, tap the circle next to the app you want to make the default.

    Browser app, Firefox radio button in Android settings
  7. Tap the back arrow to return to the previous page. Your selected app is listed as the default.

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