Troubleshooting & How-Tos 📡 🔍 Mobile

How to Change the Default Email App on Android

So you’ve been using (for instance) Gmail on your phone, but want to start using another email app like Outlook, or K-9 (the future Thunderbird for mobile), or ProtonMail. You want to keep Gmail available for now, but you want your phone to open K-9 when you start sending an email from another app.

If you’re installing the new app now, or if you’re ready to delete the old one, it’s simple. The next time you send email from another app, it’ll ask you which one to use.

But if you’ve had the new mail app on the phone for a while now, and you just want to change which one’s the main and which one’s the alternate? Now you need to dig into your phone’s settings.

Default Apps? Not So Fast!

Android, like Windows, lets you choose default apps for various actions like opening a web page, making a phone call, etc. You can find the major ones in one spot:

  • Open Settings
  • Tap on Apps
  • Tap on Default apps

But…email isn’t on the list! (Why not? I have no idea. Blame someone at Google who doesn’t want people to leave Gmail.)

Now, you’d think you could dig through the longer list of apps and set Outlook as the default…but nope! Though you’re on the right track!

This was really hard to search for, since most of what I found had to do with either the actions that are in the Default Apps, or telling your mail app which of several accounts to start with.

The Solution

I finally found the answer in a forum post by legsaroverrated on Android Central.

Clear whatever your current default email is and then just go to any “contact us” page on a website and click the email link and then choose your new default and click ALWAYS

In more detail, this is how to do it:

  • Open Settings
  • Tap on Apps
  • Tap on the old email app if it’s visible in the recently-opened list, or hit “See all 99 apps” and find it in there.
  • Scroll down and tap on Open by default
  • Ignore the link-related settings and look for an “Other default preferences” section with a button: Clear default preferences (Tap it, of course!)

Now you don’t have a default mail app at all, so the next time you start sending an email from another app – say, by tapping on an email link on a website – it will ask you which email app to open!

That jogged a memory, and I remembered that I used to have to do this with web browsers on Android way back when. They fixed that problem when they added the Default Apps section.

But this is way too hidden for what ought to be a simple change.