How to change default apps in Android

16 July 2014

Flexibility is one of the best things about the Android platform. If you don’t like the keyboard on your phone, you can change it. If you’d prefer to use a third-party app for SMS and MMS or a new web browser, you can switch it over. You can even change the entire look and feel of your phone by installing an Android Launcher.

But what happens when you want to switch back again? Maybe you decided to use Google Hangouts to receive SMS, but now you’d prefer to go back to the original Messaging app. Doing this is pretty easy, but it is tucked away in the system settings.

Resetting the default

  1. Go to the system settings
  2. Scroll down until you find ‘Applications’ and select it
  3. Scroll the list until you find the app that is currently the ‘default’ and select it
  4. Hit the button marked ‘Clear Defaults’

And that’s it. Next time you perform a task that uses that app for (i.e.: opening a web link from a different app) you will be asked to choose your default app all over again.

Setting a new default

Changing your web browser is probably the best example for how this all works. There are dozens of different apps on your phone that will want to launch the web browser to complete a task. For example, if someone sends you a link in an email and you click it, your phone then has to figure out what app to use to open the link in. If you have more than one browser installed, it will ask you to set a ‘default’ browser.

It does this by displaying a box with all possible options. You select the browser you prefer and choose either ‘Always’ or ‘Just once’ — where ‘Always’ sets a default and you won’t be asked again, and ‘Just once’ gives you this choice every time you go to open a link.

If you find this process of choosing default apps cumbersome, just uninstall all similar apps and leave only your favourite installed.

Note: you may find that your phone asks repeatedly asks about default browsers, even after you choose the ‘Always’ option. This is because links from different apps are seen as completely separate tasks, and Android assumes that you may not want to open the same browser for email links as you do for links from a social media account, for example.



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