File handling is one of the basic stuffs every smartphone user needs to manage as a routine. It could be a spreadsheet file received as an attachment in your email or a PDF file that you have downloaded from an app or website. When you have multiple apps for opening the same file type it is necessary to set default apps to open files in Android phones. This will help avoiding searching for the app every time and automatically open the file with your favorite app. In this article, we will explain how you can do this easily.
Default File Opening Behavior in Android
The latest Android 12 has adopted an ask-for-every-time policy to open the files in apps. Let’s say, you open a PDF file for the first time in your phone. In this case, Android will display a list of supported apps installed on your phone to open the file like “Office,” “One Drive,” etc. Once you choose a particular app, for example, “Office,” Android will open the file in the Office app. However, your phone will keep opening the PDF files in “Office” only in that session. Now, if you open the PDF file after certain time, you will be prompted once again to choose the app to open the file.
This will be annoying to select the app to open the same file type each time. Instead of that, you may always prefer to open PDF files using a favorite PDF reader app installed in your phone.
Set Default Apps in Android
Android 12 lets you set a few specific default apps like browser, call redirecting, caller ID & spam, etc. However, you can only set default apps only for the listed categories and not for all file types as you can do with Windows or Mac computer. Follow the instructions to set default apps in Android. Note that the instruction is from Google Pixel 3a phone and the menus may vary depending up on your phone’s model.
- Open your Android phone’s settings and navigate to “Apps > Default apps” section.
- You will see a list of possible categories for which you can set the default app.
- Tap on the category, for example – “Browser app” and follow the on screen instructions to setup your default app.
Default App Categories
In the below section, we will show how to setup default app for each available option.
1. Browser App
Once you tap this, it will display the list of installed browsers on your Android phone. In our case, you can see Chrome and Firefox as shown in the below picture. You can set the default browser to use with all your future internet browsing. Note that you can choose certain links to directly open in another app instead of browser window as explained at the end of this article under “Open links” section.
2. Call Redirecting App
You can set the default call diverting app to forward outgoing calls to another phone number. You can either set “None” or choose the default apps from the list.
3. Caller ID & Spam app
Once again, you can choose a default app to identify calls and block spam, robocalls, or unwanted numbers. This is useful when you have installed and caller ID app which you can assign here.
4. Digital Assistant App
You can choose your default digital assistant app like Google, Firefox, none, etc. Google Assist as a digital assistant app can help you to read the text from the screen, use screenshots and follow voice commands.
5. Home App
You can select a default launcher app by tapping on “Home app”. A launcher app is an app that replaces the home screen of your Android device and gives you more customized features on the home screen. When you have multiple launcher apps, you can change the default association here to change appearance of your phone.
6. Phone App
Using this option, you can select a default phone app for making and receiving calls in your Android device. If you have installed third-party calling apps, you will see a list of them here and you can choose the default app. Otherwise, you will only see the system’s default phone app.
7. SMS App
Similar to phone app, you can choose the default SMS app under this section. The selected app will use your phone number to send and receive short messages, photos, videos, and more.
8. Opening Links
As mentioned above, you can open certain links in specific app instead of using the default browser under this section. If you anytime used iPhone, you would have noticed the Safari browser will automatically ask you to open certain links in the app instead of trying to open the page. Facebook links are the best examples, whenever you link any Facebook related links in emails or apps, it will go to Safari. However, Safari will ask you whether you want to open the link in Facebook if you have Facebook app installed on your iPhone. You can get a similar feature in Android using “Opening links” with two options.
Opening Links with Installed Apps
- First the apps can automatically add and verify the links to open in that app. Alternatively, you can enable “Open supported links” option for any of the installed app in your phone. For example, you can enable this open for the AccuWeather app to automatically open verified links using that app. Remember, this will only work for the verified links by the app.
- If you want to use additional links with any of the app, you can manually add links. Select the app from the list and turn on “Open supported links” option. Then tap on “Add a link” option and type the hyperlinks that you want to associate with the app.
Opening Links with Instant Apps
This is a cool option which you can use to open the links with app even though the relevant apps are not installed on your phone. For example, you may want to open PDF file in PDF reader but not installed any related apps in your phone. In such a case, enabling this option will show a list of PDF reader apps available for your Google account. You can choose any of the available app to read the file. However, the app will be removed when you close the file. In this way, you can still read PDF files in your favorite reader without installing the app in your phone.
The above categories will cover basic type of file types and set default apps for them. Unfortunately, you cannot set the default apps for any other file types with the most recent Android 12. You may try third-party apps like Better Open With to check if that fulfills your needs. Remember, you can anytime change the default association by following the same procedure as explained above and selecting different app.