How-To Geek

How to Set Default Apps on Android

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When you have multiple applications that do the same thing—like browsers, for example—Android will ask you which one you want to use every time, at least until you set one as the default with the “always” action. In the earlier days of the app picker, you’d have to clear defaults for each one before applying another, but things have changed.

Now, there’s a simple way to manage default applications for the most-used apps all in one place. The only problem is that it’s in a different place for every major manufacturer. Just Android things, right?

The good news is that getting to where you need to be starts in the same place on basically every Android device out here: Settings. Just pull down the notification panel, and hit the cog icon to jump in.

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Once in Settings, you’ll need to find the Apps section for your particular manufacturer. On most devices, it’s just labeled “Apps” or “Manage Apps,” with the main exception being Samsung Galaxy handsets—you’ll be looking for “Applications.” Silly Samsung, being all formal. On LG devices, you’ll find “Apps” under the “General” tab.

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From here, things can get a little sketchy between brands. On Stock Marshmallow devices, just hit the cog icon in the top right corner, then “Default Apps.” This changes in Android N, as there is no “Default Apps” option—instead, everything is managed from the main app settings screen. On Galaxy devices, the second option to the top is “Default applications,” which is the one you want.

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On LG handsets, hit the overflow button in the top right corner, then “Configure apps.” On Huawei phones, tap “Default app settings” at the bottom of the screen.

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At this point, most handset makers should be pretty much on the same page. The majority will let you change the default launcher (Home), browser, dialer (phone), and SMS apps, along with some particulars that will vary between manufacturers.

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It’s worth mentioning here that whenever you install a new app that can be set as a default—like a launcher or browser—this will effectively reset your default preference for that category, allowing you to set the newly-installed app as default without having to go through much hassle. If you want to change it back, just following these instructions. Simple.

Cameron Summerson is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, metalhead, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys on the 'net, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, chugging away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

  • Published 06/30/16

Comments (11)

  1. dude

    basic

  2. Ciprianxl

    Hey !
    I have a Motorola Defy with Android 2.1. I like the basic homescreen but my “all apps” menu is organized in one vertical row . I would like an app that organizes my apps in different horizontal rows ( like iphone , galaxy S ) but NOT change my default home screen. I tried GoLauncher , ADW etc,but all of them change the home screen . Thanks in advance !

  3. Jason Fitzpatrick

    @Ciprianxl: Is there any chance you can take a screenshot of what you’re talking about (or find a screenshot like it online)?

  4. Chris

    Ciprianxl: When you are in the “all apps” menu, try pressing the menu button on the phone. You should be able to switch from ‘List’ to ‘Grid’.

  5. Ciprianxl

    @Chris Motorola Defy doesn’t have that option ! :(

  6. David Lawyer

    Nice walkthrough. Basic but still necessary for noobs. Mass adoption of android is the goal and do get there Androind must conquer and convert iphone users, cell phone users, blackberry and window mobile users. They won’t have a clue how to perform Android’s most basic functions. Keep up the good work. Drooooooiiiiiiiddd!

  7. Anthony

    I have an issue that isn’t so basic…I have several (about 5 applications) that do various things and can all open a specific type of file (like a video file) but only one of these will open facebook video files. When it ask’s for the program I want to use to open the facebook video file it displays only three applications to choose from, and the one to open those files isn’t one of the three. How do I get to that application and set it as the default for those types of files?

  8. Farmer

    I can’t believe I can’t find an answer for this online. My facebook has no defaults set. How can I open a gmail link in the facebook app rather than having it open automatically in the browser? Same for youtube, etc. thanks!

  9. Jess

    @CIPRIANXL- The Defy has 7 home screens for each of 3 profiles… Why not use them to organize your apps and widgets the way you want them? (Posted from my Defy)

  10. ewayne

    Having the same issue as Farmer…i can’t get gmail to default to the facebook app rather than the ‘internet’ browser. Have deleted all the defaults in these apps and you can’t uninstall the browser app. Please help.

  11. Jessica

    Hello, I was actually having a problem making Launcher pro my default home screen. I followed all of your steps and it still wasn’t working. Just for anyone having the same problem, I had to do the same thing to HTC sense app. Once I cleared the default there, I got the option box to choose my default. Im NOT techy, so it sadly took me a while to figure this out :( But im learning!

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