Your smartphone phone arrives with default apps, the preloaded software that springs into action whenever a specific task needs doing. Click an image you’ve just received over email, for example, and it opens in your default image viewer. Follow a web link someone sends you, and your default web browser opens up.
But here’s the thing about default settings—you don’t have to settle for them. Not every iPhone owner wants to use Safari for their web browser; not every Android user prefers Gmail for their email app. If you prefer other apps to the ones that Android or Apple provides—maybe with different features that just generally suit you better—you can swap in those instead.
Customizing smartphone default settings creates a more personalized and user-friendly experience. You get your preferred software up and running faster, and that can save you a substantial amount of time each day. Here’s how to do it.
Android smartphones give you plenty of control over which apps are set as the defaults. The exact menus and screens may vary depending on which manufacturer made your phone, but the steps to change your settings will be pretty much the same.
On the latest version of Android, you need to open up the Settings app, then choose Apps & notifications, then Advanced, then Default apps. All the available categories, like browser and SMS, are listed.
To change a default, just tap on the category, and make a new choice. Only the apps specifically designed to handle that category of app or task are listed.
You can also go into a specific app from the Apps & notifications screen, then tap Advanced and Open by default, to choose the types of files and links that a particular app is set to handle.
For many years, iPhone owners were limited to using Apple’s proprietary software apps. But with the release of iOS 14, Apple has finally added an option letting users change the default apps for email and web browsing. That means you can use Gmail or Google Chrome—or any other app of your choice—instead of Safari and Apple Mail.
To make this switch, open Settings on your iPhone. Scroll down until you find the app you want to use. For example, find Google Chrome if you want it to be your main browser, or Outlook if you want to use it as your email app and tap it. Select the appropriate option, either Default Browser App or Default Email App. Pick from the list of available apps on the next screen, then back out of settings. It’s that simple! With a new default app set, anytime you click a link, your preferred browser will open. Or whenever you tap an email address, your favorite email app will launch.