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How to Change Your Default Browser in Windows 11

How to Change Your Default Browser in Windows 11
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How to Change Your Default Browser in Windows 11

How to Change Your Default Browser in Windows 11

If you have updated your PC from Windows 10 to Windows 11, you may have noticed that when you click on a link to a website, PDF document, or several other file types, you will now be directed to Microsoft’s Edge browser. . . In its new version of Windows, Microsoft has been particularly aggressive in pushing its own apps over apps that were installed as defaults prior to the upgrade. In other words, Edge suddenly became your default browser.

Normally, the first time you switch to another browser that isn’t Edge—say, Google Chrome—the not-Edge browser will ask if you want to make it the default instead. However, the process of changing your defaults in Windows 11 has become more complicated than in Windows 10. That’s why you might not get that simple request — or if you do, it could lead you to a complicated-looking page titled “Apps > Default Apps.” Either way, here’s how to make the switch.

switch default browser

If you don’t want Edge to be your default browser, and your preferred browser isn’t offering to make the change for you — or if it has offered, but instead sent you to the “Default apps” page — click here to make the switch. The way is to be missed. For this example, I’m using Google Chrome, but it should work with any browser you have installed on your system.

  • Select Settings > Apps > Default Apps
  • Under “Set defaults for applications,” either scroll down to where your preferred browser is listed or type a name in the “Search for applications” field. Click on App.
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Changing browser means adding each file type to your new browser.

Changing browser means adding each file type to your new browser.

  • You’ll see a list of browser-related files, and under each file name, the app it’s currently associated with. In Windows 11, you can’t change your default browser with just one click – you have to change the browser assigned for each specific file type.
  • Look for file types specified to Edge, such as .htm, .html, HTTP, HTTPS, and perhaps .PDF (unless you have a PDF reader that you prefer). Click on the ones you want to change.

When you first click on a file type, Windows may try to discourage any changes.

When you first click on a file type, Windows may try to discourage any changes.

  • You might get a “before you switch” pop-up urging you to try Microsoft Edge – go ahead and click “Switch anyway.” You’ll get a pop-up with the “Keep using this app” selection at the top and your other installed browsers at the bottom. Go ahead and choose the one you want to use. (Keep in mind that there may be some file types that your browser won’t offer as an option.)

You can change each file type for the appropriate installed app.

You can change each file type for the appropriate installed app.

Note: By the time you read this, some browsers may have installed a mechanism to let you switch your default browser more easily. For example, when this was written, the first time I opened Firefox, it asked if I wanted it to be the default. I let it proceed, and when I went to the “Default Apps” section of the setup, I found that Firefox was now set as the default for .HTM, .HTML, .HTTP, and .HTTPS files. Edge was still listed for .PDF, .SHTML, .SVG, .XHT, and .XHTML files.

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The Firefox Default Wizard switches some — but not all — of the browser file settings.

The Firefox Default Wizard switches some — but not all — of the browser file settings.

One more thing: If you open Edge for any reason, you will get the expected pop-up urging you to return to “Recommended browser settings”.

it won’t solve everything

But wait – there’s more. Even after you switch your browser default to something other than Edge, you’re still going to get Edge as the preferred browser for many Windows apps. For example, bring up Windows 11’s New Widgets pane (by clicking on the widget icon in your taskbar, which looks like a two-paned window), and click one of the news items that appear there—and the link will open. Edge.

If you find that annoying, there might be an app for that. To open edge-specific links, you need to do the following:

  • Go to Settings > Apps > Default Apps.
  • Scroll down until you see “Choose default by link type”.
  • Click on it and then type “edge” in the search box labeled “Set defaults for link types.”
  • Under the “Microsoft-Edge” label, you’ll see “Microsoft Edge.” Click on that, and you’ll see other browsers you can use to open those particular links.

Interestingly, if you install Chrome or Firefox, you won’t see them as an option. But if you install Brave browser, you Will Treat it as an option – and if you select it, it will pop up in Brave whenever you click on a news link in the widget pane.

You can set the Brave browser to open widget links.

You can set the Brave browser to open widget links.

Another possibility is a tool called EdgeDeflector which was originally built in Windows 10 to intercept any links that were Edge-specific and rewrite them on the fly so that they can be opened by the default web browser. I did a little browsing and read that its latest version, v1.2.3.0, will work with Windows 11.

I installed and followed the instructions for installation. Unfortunately, while this worked for most links, when I clicked on a link from News Sources in the Widgets pane, it didn’t quite work – the link opened in Chrome, but no graphics came up. I will keep an eye on this app though…

Update October 8, 2021, 1:10 p.m. ET: What happens when some browsers offer to switch your defaults is clarified.

Update October 10th, 2021, 10:30AM ET: Updated to include guidelines for allowing Brave browser to open certain Windows links.

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