How to set the default navigation app in Windows Phone 8.1

The integration of map navigation throughout our Windows Phones can be a handy feature. From tapping on an address to a contact, in an email and now with Cortana, generating voice directions is but a tap away.

If you have multiple navigation apps installed on your Windows Phone you will be given a list of these apps to choose from when generating voice directions. That extra step in getting directions may not be a big deal to most, but there is a way to set one of your navigation apps as a default with Windows Phone 8.1 and avoid this step all together.

The Windows Phone platform has a vast selection of quality navigation apps available such as NAVIGON, Garmin StreetPilot, GPS Voice Navigation, HERE+ and the native Bing Maps. To set your favorite navigation app as the default app for your Windows Phone, the process is simple.

  • Go to your Windows Phone Settings
  • Swipe over to the Applications Page
  • Tap the Maps option
  • Scroll to the bottom of the Maps Page to find the “Set default voice navigation app” option

This drop down menu will list all the navigation apps, currently installed on your Windows Phone, that are available to choose as your default navigation app.

Once you have made your choice, you won’t see that “Choose your Navigation app” every time you need voice navigation (e.g. through Cortana, tapping on a contact’s address, etc.).

George Ponder

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.

  • You should mention copilot. I am never without it. Thanks for the tip.
  • But the article wasn't to recommend a navigation application, rather to inform us how to set the default navigation application
  • CoPilot is great.  If you like out of date maps, that is...
  • What is your recommendation, then?
  • As WorzelGummage pointed out above, this isn't an articl for recommendations...  Since you asked, HERE Drive+ works great where I live.  There are maps on CoPilot that haven't been updated (Denver, CO) since I was using my T-Mobile Wing and Touch Pro2.  Then there are just, flat out map mistakes.  I also hate that they outsource their map quality control to their users.  I shouldn't have to submit map change requests to a commercial product.  This is fine with community supported product like Waze, but not CoPilot.  On the plus side, I was able to fully activate CoPilot on my Lumia 810 using my login from my WM6.5 days.
  • Scout GPS is a good one. Has offline maps(for a monthly fee)
  • NEVER EVER EVER, using Co-Pilot again. Used to love them until I bought an Android phone and shortly afterwards bought a totally legitimate C.D. with both Co-Pilot for Android and Windows Mobile on it. On installing it specifically asked which version I wanted to install, and sure enough, installed on the phone but every time I went to run it refused to load the maps telling me that I should go online to purchase them. I contacted Co-Pilot several times and each time for about a month they insisted that I had bought a version purely for Windows Mobile and that I should return it to the store that I bought it from. I pointed out that it clearly had for 'Windows and Android on it, but they insisted that I'd bought the wrong version and denied any resonpsibility. Terrible terrible company.
  • Wish we could also choose a default web browser..
  • Agreed.
  • Also a default video player for video files downloaded. Loving Moliplayer
  • Choosing the default video player is something I've wished for ever since MoliPlayer was released.
  • Then Cortana won't get any better, we need everyone to use Bing to make Cortana better.
  • Well, People can use Bing on pretty much any other browser out there, And Bing should be a personal preference cause I prefer Google myself.
  • Bing only works in the US. But the top marketshare of Windows Phones is in Asia and India.  Where Bing doesn't work at all. Thus - the dilemma.  WP is growing, but the phones that are being sold are the low end phones, not the 'flagships' , and the majority of phones are 'budget' phones.  The reason developers don't seem to build apps for WP is that the predominant amount of users are in areas where there are no carrier billing options, and the majority of credit cards don't work. So from a developer's point of view - no reason to invest money into apps. From an OEM point of view - make cheap budget phones because that's what sells. And then you have Bing, Microsoft's own search engine, which is next to worthless for non-US users. So while Microsoft is a US-centric company, their primary marketshare is everywhere BUT the US.  
  • What would be a better option in 2014 than IE? I'll wait for a misinformed response
  • Something that lets me access both favorites and tabs in one tap?
  • I decided to give IE it's 2nd chance yesterday cause I was bored of chrome, Ended up using Opera at the end of the day.
  • Google chrome destroys IE in speed... Solution? Made Bing default search engine and everything was beautiful. It's just a browser, it's what you do with the browser that matters imo ;)
  • Speed like what? A fraction of millisecond? Give me a break, a browser is more than that, and Firefox is the overall king. Opera used to be unique, but ever since it switched to webkit, I lost my faith in it.
  • Is it weird that there are two 'Maps' apps in wp8.1?
  • I only have one.
    And i have here maps.
  • Bing Maps is made by Microsoft, Here Maps is added by Nokia. So it isn't weird at all! Nokia just wants to give you a better alternative!
  • @ times it feels limited like being unable to report changes(eg closed businesses)
  • There's really 2 apps called "Maps" in the store (seems that both are by Microsoft). Most likely you have one installed on your phone now and you can install another. It something about the "old maps" and some connection to Gmaps.
  • Yes me too, but it is because I installed the Maps shortcut since there is no way to open the Windows Phone Maps app in Lumia in 8.0. Just uninstall one of them.
  • Yes, if someone is wondering which one is which, just do a tap-and-hold on each one in the list of apps.  For the one that the "uninstall" option, use it.  Nice to see that the "Maps shortcut" app is no longer needed!  I wonder though if this is just a result of having installed the WP 8.1 dev preview, or if a brand new Lumia pre-loaded with WP 8.1 would have both HERE Maps and the regular Maps app.
  • There was an update and one of them recommended I use the other one. AND I HAVE TO SAY THIS WORKS AWESOME OFFLINE. 3D IS JUST PERFECT.
  • Awesome tip George. Yes, it is only one extra screen touch but, fewer of those when driving can make a big difference.   Thanks!
  • Currently using waze. Always gets me the fastest route around traffic with incident reports.
  • Excellent. Maps of Japan are missing from all the OEM. There was no native map on my HTC or in Nokia Here.
  • I have and love Garmin. It doesn't come up as an option. Anyone know why or what to do? Thanks for the help in advance.
  • Dont think it was updated for wp8 hud on the other hand should work. To bad it requires the external display to work
  • External display? Garmin? Displays right on your device.
  • My guess is that the app need to be updated to use the new WP8.1 API's before it will show up in the list.  I have the same problem with Mapquest.
  • I am considering not selecting a preferred so it does ask me.  There are times that i would Waze instead of Here, etc.
  • I use Obama maps, they work great with my food stamps. Then I use my unemployment check to pay off my old Volkswagen bus. Then I get my milk with my hard owned child support.
  • Wild political comment appears
  • Rofl
  • Would've been funnier to use "free bus pass" as food stamps have zero to do with transportation
  • Idiot.
  • Did you run out of your medication? There are Walgreens stores open H24....
  • Obama phones are Lumias now?  Where do I sign up?
  • I love Waze. However, anyone can tell me how to rotate the waze to horizontal??? Otherwise, I must stay with Here drive!
  • Yep...Garmin isn't an option, which is too bad. I like HERE; but, annoyed that it doesn't tell you which side of the street your destination is on (or, at least it doesn't do so for me).
  • That has got to be the most annoying feature that can so easily be solved by the devs, but they don't! With every update, I wait for it.... and it's not fixed.  I started thinking that the direction of the flag on the map is an indication to the side of the road, but I didn't test it enough times to be for sure. Give it a shot.
  • Doubt they will when theres HUD to bad the hardwares expensive
  • Transit direction is not showing when I access through Cortana but manually from here transit it is showing
  • Useful information! Doing this right now.
  • Voice on my Here Drive+ not working
  • Your voice on Here Drive might not be working because you might not have any voice installed. On here Drive go to settings>Navigation voice> Download new.
  • I do have. But thanks for help.
  • Using Lumia 1020 running official 8.1, in Canada.  Voice doesn't work for me either. Tried Here+ (removed and re-installed, still no success) and Waze.  I never tried it before the update, but I have tried using English US voice and English UK voice (street reader, or whatever that option is called) on Here+.  Shows directions and even traffic problems.  Just no voice. Wonder if 8.1 isn't compatible with voice nav apps, or if it's because I'm in Canada (and it's looking for some Canadian English setting?). Great phone, otherwise.
  • Who has the space to download a voice on Here Drive when the map of one block takes up half a billion gigabytes? Seriously, why so many of these apps require you to download maps is beyond me. And then the good ones like MapQuest can't be set as a default navigation app, but somehow some stupid apps that do nothing are listed in the supported apps? So, lemme guess? Microsoft makes decisions by having a monkey throw darts at a cork board and seeing what index cards the darts hit?
  • Waiting someone to publish a full review video of Windows phone 8,1 word flow keyboards ...
  • Good tip, George. Not sure how I missed this when I went through the settings.
  • Now explain how to change your Facebook profile picture from the Me tile. Because it's jacked up.
  • Tap me tile, tap picture, select picture. Tada.
  • Then check facebook and the picture doesn't actually change. Change it on Facebook and the tile doesn't change. Its like the Me tile pic is unrelated.
  • I wish Cortana behaved like Siri/Google Now where you can hit the button and simply say "Navigate to....." Using Google or Apple Maps. I use Nokia Drive+ everyday, it's good but not great
  • You can say "Navigate to..." and give it an address or name of one of your places (i.e. "Home") set up in Cortana and it'll open your navigation app to that location
  • Ahhh, I stand corrected. Thanks for the tip, it worked first time :-)
  • Nope. Just got web results. I said, "Navigate to Kroger in MapQuest," and I got web results for that.
  • Ask Cortana "How far is it to ______" She'll give you a map with shortest route. Tap the map and you can get turn by turn directions.
  • How to undo that change?
    I like the ability to select the navigation app, as I use different apps at different occasion.
  • This isn't true for 3rd party apps which try to invoke a navigation app. It still shows up a dialog to select from. 'choose an app to open this link'
  • Could you compare the alternatives and show us which integrates most nicely? Would be great to know! I for one would think Bing now has an advantage since it's also tightly integrated with Cortana at the moment, but I'm not sure if that beats Nokia's great Here services
  • Don't forget CoPilot GPS!
  • Can you guys make an article about getting directions through Cortana? I tried asking for directions, and it just shows me a web search??
  • Ask Cortana "How far is it to ______" She'll give you a map with shortest route. Tap the map and you can get turn by turn directions.
  • HERE baby, only HERE)
  • I think I've set here a long time ago, because i don't have the option anymore. But for some reason, when i tap an address in a contact, it always opens it in bing maps, which isn't even a visible app on my L920. Is there any way to change this?
  • Same here on my 920 in Australia, where no Cortana available. Clicking on contact address opens Bing maps even if I change default to HERE+ or Waze. Perhaps this feature is broken if no Cortana available?
  • After updating the Maps when I upgraded to preview 8.1 my beautiful maps turned into pixelated :( before updating it was good especially (satellite view) in here maps. Anybody knows what happened to the maps?
  • Has anyone else had an issue with 8.1 and Bluetooth voice navigation with HERE+ Drive? When it gives directions, it has to reconnect to the car each time it wants to speak, and I lose half the directions. This wasn't happening with 8.0. I've checked all the settings, and I don't think it's something there, but I've sent in my diagnostics, and hopefully they will fix this in the public 8.1 release.
  • I have had the same issue. It almost like the first few words said are cut off during the "reconnect".
  • Is it possible Cortana remembers your choice and uses that going forward? The first few times I asked her to navigate home I selected Waze instead of Here Drive, and now she opens Waze without asking. When using Cortana to navigate anywhere besides home or work I find myself having to look at the screen much more often than I'd like. Way too many web searches generated by requests to navigate to one of my saved places. The app Go To almost always recognized my saved locations and routed me there without constantly repeating myself or needing to search the web.
  • Yeah thanks for the article.
  • Waze was already selected ;) .
  • Is it just me or can you not click on an appointment in your calendar with an address now and have it automatically start navigating like you could in 8.0?
  • Did anyone notice, Nokia Drive works with Car bluetooth now. This is an awesome update. I have been waiting for this. Sadly songs still cant be played over bluetooth in my car :(
  • For many of us using bluetooth streaming audio from the phone, this feature is now a problem
  • Has anyone had any issues where after using navigation, if you close it by pressing the windows key, the next time you use Cortana it will not start directions. You have to back out with the back button, open Cortana, and ask for directions again for it to work.
  • I doesn't have Maps in settings. Where it has gone?
  • Does not work on my Lumia920 Rgds Steen Denmark
  • Does not work. No apps listed but "Windows Phone maps (no voice)." I know this isn't true because I've been using MapQuest on tha that phone. Apparently your article is out of date.