You aren't actually stuck with Apple's Mail and Safari iPhone apps

There's a trick to use Gmail, Google Chrome or another email or web browser on your iPhone or iPad. We'll walk you through how to set those as the default.

Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
2 min read

We'll show you how to set default apps on your iPhone or iPad. 

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

The iPhone has a lot to offer. You can pack it full of fun apps, use it for amazing photography, and just generally enjoy using it day after day. But, for a long time, you also had to use Apple's default mail and web-browsing apps, regardless of your preferred defaults.

Fortunately, Apple has been loosening its grip on the iPhone and iPad by adding the option to put widgets on the iPhone's home screen, create custom app icons and, although somewhat limited, change the default apps for email and web browsing. (Here are some of our other favorite features from iOS 15.)

Brett Pearce/CNET

That means you can use Gmail or Google Chrome -- or another app of your choice -- on your iPhone and finally leave Safari and Apple Mail behind. It's a big win for iPhone and iPad users. 

Read more: The best iPhone 13 cases

The process to change over your default mail and browser app is really simple, but also somewhat hidden. Apple doesn't make it as easy as Android, where there's a dedicated section for setting default apps in settings. You have to know where to look, and below, we'll show you where that is.


It's true, you can set some default apps in iOS 15. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Set your default mail or browser

In order to use another app as an email or web browser replacement, the developer will need to update the app with support for the new feature. Make sure to check the App Store for any updates before trying to change your default app. Here's what you need to do.

Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad. Scroll down until you find the app you want to use. For example, find Google Chrome if you want it to be your main browser. Or Outlook if you want to use it as your email app and tap it. Select the appropriate option, either Default Browser App or Default Email App. Pick from the list of available apps on the next screen, then back out of settings. 

With a new default app set, anytime you click a link, your preferred browser will open. Or whenever you tap an email address, your email app will launch. It's about time Apple added this capability. 

Default apps aren't the only cool feature in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 -- we found a bunch. We also figured out some specific tricks, like how to get free iCloud storage