How to change your default apps on Android 12

Jack Wallen shows you how easy it is to tell which apps you want Android to use by default.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer

A default app is the one you'd like your operating system to use to open certain files or links. Understandably, out of the box, Android defaults to Google applications. For instance, the default web browser for Android is Chrome. But what if you'd rather use a more secure or customizable browser as your default? Or maybe you have a Samsung phone, and Bixby is set as the default Digital Assistant App. What do you do to change this?

It's quite simple.

With Android, you can configure the following default apps:

  • Browser (default is Chrome)
  • Caller ID & Spam App (default is Phone)
  • Digital Assistant App (default is Google Assistant)
  • Home App (default will depend on your phone)
  • Phone App (default is Phone)
  • SMS App (default is Messages)

Although this won't be an issue for those who are content using the shipped default apps, those who install non-Google applications (such as the Firefox web browser and the Signal message app), or those who have a Samsung phone and do not want to use Bixby as their digital assistant will very likely want to change the default app.

Also: How to record a call on your Android phone

This also applies to anyone who might have installed a third-party home screen launcher (such as Nova Launcher). 

If that sounds like you, keep reading and learn how to set the default apps on Android 12. Don't worry; this process isn't even remotely challenging, and should something go awry, it's very easy to revert to the original default.

With that said, let's change some default apps.

Changing default applications on Android 12

1. Access the settings window

Open your App Drawer, locate the Settings application, and tap the entry (Figure 1).

The Android App Drawer opened to reveal the Settings launcher.

Figure 1

The Settings app is found in the Android App Drawer.

Image: Jack Wallen

2. Open the Default Apps section

Within the Settings window, tap Apps and then tap Default Apps under General (Figure 2).

The Android 12 Apps windows shows the Default Apps entry.

Figure 2

The Default Apps entry is where you set your default applications in Android 12.

Image: Jack Wallen

3. Set your new default application

Let's say you've installed the Firefox web browser and want to set it as your default. To do that, tap the Browser App entry (Figure 3).

The Android 12 Default Apps listing.

Figure 3

The list of default applications you can change in Android 12.

Image: Jack Wallen

From the list of installed browsers (you probably won't have as many as I do), tap Firefox to set it as your default (Figure 4).

A listing of installed web browsers on Android 12.

Figure 4

Setting Firefox as the default web browser in Android 12.

Image: Jack Wallen

Tap the back button (left-pointing arrow) or swipe to the left (if you have Gesture-based navigation enabled) to return to the Default Apps listing, where you can set the defaults for other apps. 

A word of warning

I have to add this simply because the world in which we live is filled with malicious applications. Always use caution when installing applications. I limit the applications installed on my devices only to those I absolutely trust and need. 

Just because you can change the default doesn't mean you should. Don't get me wrong, changing the web browser default (to a known commodity such as Firefox, Opera, Vivaldi, or Brave) is perfectly safe. However, make sure to use a measure of caution with all the other defaults. 

And that's all there is to change the default applications in Android 12. Enjoy that flexibility.

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