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How to change your default apps on Android: return to choosing freely!

How to change your default apps on Android: return to choosing freely!

Music, photos, videos, links or any types of files can be opened with one of multiple apps. When opening a file, our devices prompt us to select a default app we'd like to use for the this type of file. Often enough, many of us select Always just to speed up the process, but this is where the trouble begins!

Shortcuts:

Removing an app that opens certain files automatically

Either due to distraction or because at the moment a particular app seemed better, we often regret immediatelly selecting Always. Fret not; setting a default app to open a particular type of file is not a permanent contract: you can change your preferences at any time and in this article we will show you how.

The first method to remove a default app is through the system settings. Follow these steps:

  • Open Settings and then Apps
  • Find the app from which you want to stop from automatically opening. For example, Chrome if you want to remove it as your default browser.
  • Tap on it and scroll down until you find either Set as default or Open by default (for browsers there might be an additional option called Browser app)
  • Now tap Clear defaults or select a different browser app from the list
default apps chrome
You only need a few taps to change your default apps. / © AndroidPIT

From now on, whenever you open a previously associated file type, you will be asked to manually choose the app you want to use (at least until you set another app by default).

Removing all default apps

To make a clean sweep of all the apps that start up automatically when opening certain files on the device, you can once again on the Apps section in your system settings.

  • Open Settings, then Apps
  • Tap on the three dots in the upper right corner
  • Select the Restore preferences/Reset app preferences option
all defaults
Reseting app preferences is not as drastic as it may sound. / © AndroidPIT

Reseting the preferences of all apps will not only remove the automatic opening preferences, but also all the other previously set options (deactivation, notification management, background data limits, etc.)

Manage default apps

To have an overview of all the apps you have set as default, on some devices you will find a dedicated section in the settings menu. On my device, for example, you can find it by going to Settings>Apps>Default settings (or Configure apps, as can be seen in the above screenshot). From this section you can modify your default settings by selecting alternative apps from those currently set.

Now that you have been relieved of the default apps, you can replace them with new ones or select the option Only once for added versatility. I will also share a trick: to speed up the opening of a file without setting an app by default, instead of tapping Only once, select the app that you want to use twice in a row.

Which default app do you use to open files you receive on WhatsApp? I use Firefox for links, Gmail for emails and the system apps for photos and videos. Do you prefer others? Let us know in the comments.

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  • I'll give a plug to a nice free app called "Better Open With" (Giorgi Dalakishvili) that lets you pick the main and other choices when opening links, and briefly puts a selection bar at the bottom of the screen with a user-set countdown that provides a few beats to make a different choice from the default app. For example, very handy to choose between default Google Drive or a full-featured reader for PDFs, or between default Ghostery or a full-featured browser for URLs. You can exclude choices you don't want to see. Developer is very responsive to suggestions for new links or file types to open.