How to change the iOS 14 or iPadOS 14 default email application

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How to change iOS default email application
Changing the iPhone or iPad default email application is now possible. And easy.
Graphic: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple just removed one of the biggest remaining restrictions from the iPhone and iPad. It’s finally possible to change the default email application in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 to something other than Apple Mail.

Making the change is easy. However, a current limitation will delay many people from taking immediate advantage of it.

Say good-bye to the tyranny of Apple Mail

Since the iPhone and iPad first launched, the default email application was always Apple Mail. There have been plenty of third-party alternatives almost since the beginning, but these couldn’t replace Apple’s stock mail app. This means that, for example, tapping on an email address on a web page opened the new message in Mail, even if you’d prefer something else. iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 change that.

But not necessarily today. This change requires the email application to explicitly support this feature. If the developer hasn’t made its software capable of becoming the default email app, there’s nothing a user can do.

Currently, the only options are Microsoft Outlook, Spark and Hey. At this time, Gmail is not an option — but Google promised that will change. Update: On Sept. 21, Google updated Gmail so it can be the default iOS email app.

Plus, there’s a very temporary problem: This setting won’t “stick” through a reset of your iPhone or iPad. Change the default email app to Outlook, reset your device, and its back to Apple Mail.

How to change the iPhone or iPad default email application to Outlook, etc.

Fortunately, making this change is quick and easy. But the process isn’t as logical as it could be. Let’s use Outlook as our example of the process.

1 Go to the Settings application on either iPhone or iPad, scroll down in the left column until you get to the listing for Outlook, then tap on it.

2. On the resulting page, you’ll see an option for Default Mail App. Tap on it.

3. That will bring up a list of all the applications that could be your default. In our example, those are Mail and Outlook. Choose the one you want, then leave the Settings application.

You can change the iOS default email application to Microsoft Outlook.
Rather than being stuck with Apple Mail, you can now make Outlook the default email application.
Screenshot: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

And you’re done. Just to double-check, go back into Settings, and this time look in the left column for Mail. Tap on it, and on the resulting page you’ll see that your Default Mail App is now Outlook. Don’t be confused — that setting wasn’t there before. It only appears once you change the default app elsewhere.

Temporary fix for Gmail and Chrome

As noted already, Gmail can’t become the default email application yet. But fans of the Chrome web browser have the option to automatically open email links from web pages in the Gmail application. To do so, tap on the three dots icon on the right-hand side of the browser, tap on Settings > Content Settings > Default apps. On the resulting screen, you’ll have the option to set Gmail as the default.

But note, this setting only works for Chrome. For all other applications, the default email application is the one specified in the Settings app.

Change the default iPhone or iPad browser, too

iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 also let users specify a default web browser. To learn how, read the Cult of Mac guide to changing the default iPhone or iPad browser.