How to Change Default Apps in Android

Complete Action

It happens every day. You’re using your Android phone, you tap on a link in an email or download an attachment and the phone pops up a dialog box asking you which app you’d like to use to complete the action. If you select the wrong app and hit the Always button in that dialog box, you may be stuck opening all of your PDFs in the wrong viewer or editing Google docs in the browser rather than the Google Drive app indefinitely. Fortunately it’s easy to change the default app for launching different types of URLs and files.

Unfortunately, unlike Windows, Android does not provide a complete list of default apps for you. When you launch a file or link, that’s when you will either be prompted to choose an app or taken directly to the app it’s already associated with. Different types of URLs can be assigned to different apps, so tapping on a link to can open the IMDB app instead of a browser. If you’ve already set a default app for something, you can remove that setting so Android prompts you to make a choice the next time you launch that file/link.

How to remove an Android default app setting

  1. Navigate to Settings. You can launch Settings by tapping its shortcut in the apps menu or pulling down the notification drawer and tapping on the Settings icon.
    Settings Menu 
  2. Enter the Apps menu. On some phones it will be called Application Manager or something similar.
    Apps Menu 
  3. Swipe over to the All apps list.
    All apps menu 
  4. Select the app you want to remove as default.
  5. Tap Clear Defaults.
    Clear Defaults in Android 

Now the next time you launch the link/file type that app was associated with, you will be prompted to choose a default app again. Note that you clear all defaults for an app at once. So if you choose Clear Defaults on the browser, you clear it as default for all of the links it was associated with.

How to see a list of current default apps

Though Android doesn’t provide a complete list of file and link types, a third-party app called Default App Manager provides a list of current defaults and helps you set defaults for some major file/link categories. The app has two tabs: Category Wise and All Defaults.

The Category Wise tab shows general categories such as Browser, Calendar, Camera and Email, along with the name of whatever app is currently set as default for them. If a file type has no associated app, Default App Manager will list it as having no default. To set or change a default app in Default App Manager:

  1. Tap a category (example: Email).
    Default apps 
  2. Tap Clear Default to remove the current app, if there is one. You will then be transported to Android’s built-in app menu, where you have to tap Clear Defaults for that app and then hit the back button to return to Default App Manager.
    Clear Default App
  3. Tap Set Default. A dialog box will appear asking you to complete the action.
    Default apps
  4. Select the app you want and tap Always.
    Default Apps

Unfortunately, the categories on Category Wise don’t include more granular links such as URLs, which could potentially launch their own apps (ex: Amazon, IMDB). The All Defaults tab in Default App Manager shows all default apps, no matter the category. You can undo an app’s defaults from this menu by tapping the Clear button, which then takes you to that app’s info screen where you can hit the Clear Defaults button.

Default Apps

Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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  1. j Says:


  2. GonzoG Says:

    I’ve managed to set epub files to be opened by Cool Reader. UNfortunately, I’ve found Cool Reader to be extremely buggy. Cool Reader has some nice features, but its faults are unacceptable. I want to RE-SET that default to Kindle Reader.

    Nothing in this article worked.
    The system setting won’t change it and Default App Manager doesn’t work either. “CLEAR DEFAULT” is grayed out and the BIG GREEN CHECKMARK says “COOL READER” and I’ve tried everything to change it.

    You’re just wrong.

  3. Matt Says:

    This guy’s advice worked for me. Did you try downloading the app?

  4. Alan Says:

    Can not set Handcent to default yet app at unlock swipe menu

  5. Keith Says:

    Worked a treat, thanks! :-)

  6. Adriane Says:

    I’ve tried this and it doesn’t work on my droid smartphone. each time I go through these steps, google forces me to use the default browser. it doesn’t give me a choice.

  7. tzekeong Says:

    Thanks, was searching for this solution for days. It works. Thanks.

  8. Sam Says:

    Worked for me…..thanks

  9. Teresa Says:

    Worked for me – solved a rather annoying problem – Thanks!

  10. Arve Says:

    Thanks m8. Works great.

  11. Jose Says:

    I had YouTube as a choice to as default app on my fb messenger to view vids, but I did something and that option no longer comes up.. Little help! How do you get YouTube back as an option? :/ thanks!

  12. XBwlr Says:

    Worked great! Thanks for the help.

  13. Riyaz Says:

    Good job Avram. Your advice really helped me.

  14. vinura Says:

    very useful for every one useing android. thanks for the tips

  15. abuzer kadu Says:

    thank you!
    such a simple solution, makes me wonder why i didnt think of it before! :-)

  16. Metrx Qin Says:

    Very kind! problem solved as your instructions, thanks

  17. rrrainis Says:

    Very good description.

  18. Nina Says:

    What if by mistake i touched the “clear default” in an app, and i want to restore it? Is there a way?
    I have galaxy note 10.1 2014 wi-fi.
    Thanks a lot

  19. vivk Says:

    thuis is nog werking,IMDb links keep opening in browser.pls help they MUST open in the app

  20. Paleee Says:

    Nice tutorial, thank you, especially for the app “Default App Manager”. I’m using Android for over 2 years but I never met this program before. :)

  21. Mike Merritt Says:

    is there a way to add an app as a default which is not currently listed as such? I’d like to open my MOBI files with Kindle, but kindle is not set to launch by default.

  22. Nagaraj Says:

    Yes, it works…

  23. ahmad Says:

    thanks very helpful..

  24. Cari-Su Says:

    Phew. Thank you :)

  25. Jonathan Says:

    Thanks, but I hope the app works. I’m facing this issue on a rooted Galaxy 7+, and every system app has its “Clear Defaults” option greyed-out (can’t be clicked).

  26. T.R. Says:

    Did NOT work on my Samsung S3 Mini

  27. Mustafa Says:

    have a problem in htc desire s510e onscreen keyboard is not working how can its work can you guide me

  28. Uray Says:

    It took me while to get it. Thanks for the tips :D

  29. shayan from iran Says:

    hello thank you verry good is it post.(;

  30. Crownson Says:

    Thanks. I have cleared default app.

  31. D. Says:

    Very helpful and very easy to do. Thank you for your time to do this.

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