How to Change Default File Associations on Android

Published by Nyau Wai Hoe - Updated on

Changing default file associations on Android allows you to customize how different types of files are opened by default. This feature is particularly useful when you have multiple applications that can handle the same file type, such as PDF readers, media players or web browsers. Here’s a straightforward guide on how to change these settings.

Also see: How to Share Files From Android to PC Wirelessly

How to Change Default File Associations on Android

Understanding default applications and file type associations on Android devices

Default applications are the apps your Android device uses automatically to open certain types of files or links. For example, if you tap on a PDF file, it will open in whatever app you’ve set as the default for PDFs. Similarly, clicking a link might open in your default web browser.

The process for changing these associations has evolved over the years and can slightly differ depending on the Android version and the device manufacturer. The core of the process, however, remains consistent across different Android versions and involves accessing the Apps settings in your device.

Understanding default applications and file type associations on Android

Why change default apps?

  1. Accidental defaults: Sometimes, default apps are set accidentally, and you need to reset them to your preferred choice.
  2. Preference: You might prefer the functionality or interface of one app over another.
  3. Features: Different apps offer varying features. For example, one media player might support more file formats than another.
  4. Updates and improvements: Newer apps or updates might offer better performance or additional features.

Changing default file associations not only personalizes your device but also ensures that you’re using the apps that work best for your needs. The next sections of this article will guide you through the steps to change default file associations on your Android device.

Related resource: How to Change Default App For File Extension in Windows 11

Steps to change the file type associations (default app) on Android

Step 1: Accessing apps settings

The first step to changing your default file associations is to navigate to the Apps settings on your Android device. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Open the Settings app on your Android device. You can find the Settings app in your app drawer or swipe down from the top of your screen to open the notification shade and tap the gear icon.Open Settings app on Android device
  2. In the Settings menu, look for “Apps” or “Application Manager.” The exact name can vary depending on your device’s manufacturer and the Android version.Apps settings on Android
    • For users with older versions like Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), go to Settings > Apps.
    • For even older builds, navigate through Settings > Application > Manage applications.Manage applications in Android
    • In some cases, especially in specific brands like Samsung or Huawei, this path might be slightly different.

Step 2: Finding the current default app for the file type association you wish to change

Once you’re in the Apps settings:

  1. Browse through the list of apps and select the one for which you want to change default settings. For instance, if you want to change the default music player, find the current default music player app in the list.Finding the current default app for the file type association
  2. Tap on the app to open its info page. This page provides detailed information about the app, including its permissions, storage usage, and default settings.

Step 3: Clearing default so this app is no longer the default app

In the app’s info page, scroll down to find the “Clear defaults” button. This button will be active (i.e., clickable) if the app is set as the default for any file type. Tapping this button will remove all file associations with that app.

How to clear defaults of an Android app

Step 4: Setting a new default app

After clearing the existing default settings, the next time you open a file type that the app handles, your Android device will prompt you to select an app to open the file with. Here, you can choose the new app you prefer and set it as the default by selecting “Always” or “Remember my choice” when prompted.

Set default app for file type in Android

Read next: Stop Google Photos From Backing Up Screenshots (Android)

More tips for managing default file type associations on Android

Managing default apps for different categories

Some Android devices allows you to set default apps for various categories like browsers, launchers, and messaging apps. To manage these:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps (or Apps & notifications in some versions).
  2. Here, you’ll find categories like “Browser”, “Home app” (launcher), “Phone app”, etc.
  3. Tap on a category and select the app you want to set as the default for that category.

List of all default apps for file type associations on Android

Resetting all default preferences

If you want to start fresh and reset all default app preferences:

  1. Access the main settings of your device.
  2. This may be simply “Apps” in some versions.
  3. Tap on “Advanced”, then select “Default apps”.
  4. Tap the three dots in the top right corner and select “Reset app preferences”.Reset all default apps on Android
  5. Tap “Reset apps” to confirm. This will clear all default settings without deleting app data.

It’s important to remember that not all Android devices have the “Reset apps” button. The availability of this option can vary depending on the device manufacturer and the Android version.

Some other considerations

  • Device-specific variations: Depending on your device’s brand and Android version, the exact steps and menu names may vary. For example, Samsung devices might have a different pathway or additional options.
  • Updates and changes: Android updates can change the way default apps are managed. Always check for the latest method if your device has been recently updated.
  • Impact on user experience: Changing default apps can significantly impact your user experience. Choose defaults that align with your usage patterns and preferences.
  • Permissions and privacy: When setting a new default app, consider the permissions it requires and its privacy policy, especially for apps handling sensitive information.

Concluding thoughts

Wrapping up, changing default file type associations on your Android device is a straightforward process that can greatly enhance your overall experience. Whether it’s about choosing a browser that fits your browsing style, a PDF reader that you are more comfortable with, a gallery app that showcases your photos just the way you like, or a music player with the best features, it’s all about making your device work for you. Remember, the steps might vary slightly based on your Android version or device model, but the core process remains the same. And if you ever feel like shaking things up a bit, just reset and start over. It’s your device, after all, and it should cater to your preferences and needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I change default apps for specific file types, like PDFs or images?

Yes, you can change default apps for specific file types. When you open a file type for which there is no default set, Android will prompt you to select an app and you can choose to set it as the default for that file type by selecting “Always”. However, if there is already a default app set, you might need to clear the default app first before Android will prompt you to select a new default app.

What happens if I reset all app preferences?

Resetting all app preferences will clear defaults for all categories, including browser, launcher, and others. It doesn’t delete any app data but simply removes the default settings, prompting you to set new defaults next time you open a file type.

Will changing default apps affect my device’s performance?

Changing default apps should not negatively affect your device’s performance. However, the performance can vary based on the app’s resource usage. Choosing well-optimized apps as defaults can enhance your device’s performance.

Can I have multiple default apps for the same file type?

Android typically allows only one default app per file type. If you want to open a file with a different app occasionally, you can do so by selecting “Just once” when prompted, without changing the default setting.

Are default app settings backed up with my Android backup?

Default app settings are generally not included in Android backups. When you restore a backup or set up a new device, you’ll likely need to reconfigure your default app settings.

Can I set defaults for links, like opening certain URLs in a specific app?

Yes, for links like web URLs, you can set a default web browser. Some apps also allow you to set deep link preferences, where certain URLs open in specific apps.

Categories: AndroidApp

Nyau Wai Hoe
Nyau Wai Hoe is the Founder and Chief Editor of With a degree in software engineering and over 12 years of experience in the tech support industry, Nyau has established himself as an expert in the field, with a primary focus on the Microsoft Windows operating system. As a tech enthusiast, he loves exploring new technologies and leveraging them to solve real-life problems.

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