BrokenURL prevents URLs from being opened in the default browser automatically

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 31, 2020
Updated • Aug 31, 2020
Software, Windows, Windows software

BrokenURL is a free software program for Microsoft Windows devices designed to give users a choice when it comes to the opening of URLs opened externally (outside the browser).

If you are a Windows user, you may have noticed that certain events, the installation or uninstallation of programs, a click on an URL in a messenger app or email client, open the target URL in the default system browser by default.

While that is the desired action at times, it may not be all the time. Windows comes without any option to change the behavior, e.g. by displaying a browser choice dialog.

BrokenURL implements such a dialog on the system. Whenever you activate a link manually outside of the browser, or when a program does so automatically, its dialog is displayed. The program display the installed browsers and you may select one for that particular link. It has built-in functionality to unshorten shortened links according to the settings, but it may not work with all link shorteners. It did not work with Twitter links during tests.

Besides regular browser instances, it may also be used to open these links in private windows and in new browser windows. The private windows option may be useful in certain situations, e.g. to limit or eliminate some forms of tracking.

Downside to using BrokenURL is that you get the dialog for manually opened links as well. Good news is that the developer thought of that. The "save this choice" option provides the functionality.

Check it before selecting a browser to display a second configuration dialog.

save browser target

You may configure automatic behavior based on the process the link was opened from or based on the hostname. The screenshot that you see above highlights the choice.

A click on a link on the desktop or in any folder on the system provides the option to make all Windows Explorer links open in the selected browser, or only URLs that match the hostname.

Once done, links will get automatically in the selected browser; this takes care of shortcuts and links that you want to open in a specific browser all the time.

URLs that come from different sources, e.g. a different application, will still prompt the browser choice dialog.

BrokenURL comes with settings and options to modify actions that you have saved in the past. You need to open the program from the Start Menu as it does not place an icon in the taskbar or system tray area.

The two actions displayed at the bottom are used to manage saved choices and to manage the list of browsers.

Manage Browsers displays the list of detected browsers on the system. There is no option to add browsers that have not been detected, e.g. portable ones, but you can disable certain browsers to reduce the size of the menu.

Managed Saved Choices displays all automatic actions that you set up in the past. You may delete those again from the menu.

Other options provided in the settings include disabling the automatic check for updates and showing a program window in the taskbar for easier management of the settings,

Closing Words

BrokenURL is a handy program for Windows that acts as a proxy for URLs opened outside of browsers. You can set up default actions for some programs or link targets to speed things up and bypass the dialog, or handle URLs on a case by case basis instead.

Now You: Do you open URLs in the default browser?

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  1. Martin said on March 12, 2023 at 3:05 pm

    An even quicker way to open Task Manager is by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc.

  2. archie bald said on March 12, 2023 at 4:32 pm

    Win+Pause used to be the goto shortcut for me since… W95… Ms recently hijacked it and you now get Sysinfo. Device manager is still accessible this way: the second to last link at the bottom.

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