How to Set and Clear Default Apps in Android

A few simple steps can save on frustration

Handing holding up Android phone on home screen

TheDigitalWay / Pixabay


Your smartphone came with a variety of apps and you may have 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. Or, if you have several apps that perform the same task, but you don't want to delete them, decide which app is the default. For example, when you open a photo, you have the option to use the Gallery app (or another image app you downloaded) always or just once. If you choose to always 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 below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Clear Defaults

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 tap See all # apps) to see the full list of apps on your device.

  4. Tap the app that you want to clear the defaults.

    Apps & notifications, See all 41 apps, swipe down on Android
  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.

    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.

Set Defaults

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, Advanced, Default Apps 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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