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Smartphones & gadgets

Complete guide to changing default apps on Android, iPhone, Windows, Mac

Phones and tablets have been the entertainment and communication lifeline we’ve all needed during these troubling times. But, your device usually comes with pre-installed apps that could be a default email program, a texting app, or even a photo app. The problem is they may not be the ones you prefer to use.

What should you do if you have a preferred browser or app you want to use instead? Perhaps you prefer the look and security of Google Chrome over Safari. Tap or click here to see which browser is the best. Having to close the default app and launch your favorite one can be a pain.

If you’re not loving the default apps, it’s time to change them. Most devices allow you to set your favorite default apps — you just have to know how to do it. Ready to customize your device? Let’s start with Android phones.

Personalize your Android

If you want to change the default apps on your Android phone, you’re in luck. Doing so is a simple process. But before you start, make sure you have your preferred apps downloaded, as this will expedite the process.

Once your apps are downloaded:

  1. Go into your Settings menu and change the preferences. If you’re using Android 10, the default apps menu can be found at Settings > Apps & Notifications > Advanced > Default Apps.
    • Note: If you’re on an older version of Android, the process may vary.
  2. Once you’re in the default apps menu, you’ll see options to choose your caller ID and spam apps, browser app, phone app, SMS app and more.
  3. Tap the option you want to customize and select the app you’d like to make the new default.

Customize your iPhone

If you want to change the default apps on your iPhone, we have bad news. Apple doesn’t allow you to do so — yet. Rumor has it, iOS 14 might let users customize their default apps, but there have been no official announcements.

What else is running around the iOS 14 rumor mill? Tap or click here to find out.

While you might be put off by the lack of customization, you’ve got to admit you knew how careful Apple was with security and customization when you bought that phone. No fair getting upset about it now.

Windows 10 PC

If you’re working on a Windows PC and want to change the default browser or apps, just follow these simple instructions:

  1. Download any new apps you want to use from the Microsoft Store, or download your browser of choice.
  2. Click the Start menu > Settings > Apps > Default Apps.
  3. Select the default app you want to change, then choose the app you want to replace it with.
  4. To set your browser, look under Web Browser and choose the one you want.

You can also set your computer to automatically open certain PDF files, email, or music when you open certain third-party apps. To do this:

  1. Click the Start menu > Settings > Apps > Default Apps.
  2. Scroll down to Choose default apps by file type and adjust the settings you prefer.

You may also like: 7 ways to customize your Windows computer


If you want to change the default apps on your Mac computer, the process is a little longer but still relatively simple. There are specific ways to change out the different default apps. And, as with the previous systems, don’t forget to download the apps you’d prefer to use prior to adjusting any default settings.

RELATED: Tap or click here to find out what 5 essential downloads every Mac user needs

Web browser

To change the default web browser on your Mac:

  1. Open System Preferences > General.
  2. Once you’re in the General tab, you’ll see an entry marked Default web browser. Click that option and use the drop-down menu to choose the app you’d like to use in place of the default.

Apple Mail app

To change from the default Apple Mail app on your Mac:

  1. Click the Menu bar at the top of the screen > Mail > Preferences > General > Default Email Reader.
  2. This opens a drop-down menu that allows you to choose your preferred app.

Other apps

To change default programs for other apps on your Mac:

  1. Right-click one of your files that utilizes the file type you’re trying to swap out. This could be a PDF, .jpg, or any other file type that uses a default program you want to swap out.
  2. A pop-up box will appear. Click Get Info > Open With, then choose the app you want to set as the new default.
  3. This should give you the option to select Change All. Click it, then click Continue and, if the menu prompts you to, confirm the choice.

Now that you know how to customize your devices, you can stop wasting so much time switching between apps. For more tips and tricks, sign up for Kim’s Tech Tips and How-Tos newsletter.

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