Microsoft is reintroducing options to set a default web browser on Windows 11

Martin Brinkmann
Dec 5, 2021
Windows 11 News

A recently released build to the Windows 11 Dev channel includes a much requested feature that Microsoft removed from the launch version of Windows 11: the ability to set a default web browser on the system with just a click.

Windows 11 set default browser

When Windows 11 launched, users of the operating systems noticed that setting default applications was not as easy anymore as it was under Windows 10. On Windows 10, users could set defaults for several types of applications, including the web browser, music player, video player, and email, with just a few clicks.

All it took was to select Start > Settings > Apps > Default Apps, click on one of the available types on the page that opens, and select a different program for the job. Windows 10 would then map all supported file types to the application.

Microsoft removed that handy option from Windows 11, making it much harder to set new default programs. While it is still possible to do so, it is now required to set each file type individually. Considering that web browsers support a few dozen file types, including .htm, .pdf, .html, .svg and others, it is clear that performing this simple task has evolved into a nuisance.

Windows 11 Build 22509.1000, released to the developer channel, includes several usability improvements. Besides more Start Menu design options, it includes options to set a web browser as the default application for all supported file types. Microsoft is resurrecting the Windows 10 feature, and the only change is that the setting is no longer found under Default Apps, which no longer exists in that form under Windows 11, but when you open the application in Default Apps on Windows 11.

There you find the new option to make the selected browser the default on the system. Doing so maps all supported file types to the browser. The change does not impact the Microsoft-Edge specific protocol that Windows 11 uses for certain links, e.g. those in widgets. Tools like Edge Deflector or MSEdgeRedirect may be used to redirect these requests to another web browser.

Web browsers are the only type of program currently that have the revived feature. When you check others, e.g. video players, you won't find the option to set these as the default for all supported file types with one click. It is possible that future builds will bring back the functionality for other types of programs.

Closing Words

The change brings back a much needed usability feature on Windows 11. There is still the chance that it won't land in release versions of Windows 11, considering that it is currently available in test builds only. The introduction of the feature for other main application types, e.g. media players, would make a lot of sense as well.

Now You: do you set programs manually as the default, or let the programs do that (if supported and not blocked by Windows)

Microsoft is reintroducing options to set a default web browser on Windows 11
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Microsoft is reintroducing options to set a default web browser on Windows 11
A recently released build to the Windows 11 Dev channel includes a much requested feature that Microsoft removed from the launch version of Windows 11: the ability to set a default web browser on the system with just a click.
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  1. Bobo said on December 8, 2021 at 12:27 am

    Isn’t it nice when you have to fight your operating system over and over and over again, even at the most basic simple grassroot level..? Controlling, jealous and downright abusive operating system. You do not want a relationship like that, nobody does, so why do you accept it in other areas of your life? I mean, the computer IS a huge part of most people’s lives..yet we gladly get held hostage, extorted, beaten and molested continuously by Microsoft..why do we accept this without fighting back? Their operating system and hardcoded force-fed ads disguised as applications are not even close to being GOOD or usable, so this makes no sense. If only there was an alternative…

  2. Benjamin said on December 7, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    The reason i refuse to upgrade anything.

    i blocked that upgrade with a gpo until this whole file association becomes much more user friendly. i do have my own applications and my own file associations which i work with. i want to define my work flow on my own in an easy simple way and not as complicated and useless as possible

  3. Yuliya said on December 6, 2021 at 6:50 pm

    Ah yes, reintroduce a feature a year into the product’s life cycle, after your forcefully taught the masses that Edge must be the default browser. This won’t be available in the current public build, normies won’t get access to this for at least a year.

  4. Farmers said on December 6, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    But still only the Default Browser option being fixed. Default Picture Viewer, Email Client, Media Player etc will all still have to be changed one filetype at a time. Oh, and there’s no news yet as to when even this fix will be appear in the Public release. Since this is in the Dev Channel, it could theoretically filter through to Public if they want to at some point, or it could be held back till next year for the next release – or it might never even become public (unlikely though).

  5. ULBoom said on December 6, 2021 at 12:58 am

    More and more it seems the Win 11 team has no idea what’s in Win 10.

    One “Oops!” after another and they’re not big blunders just inane omissions.

  6. STICK IT TO THE MAN ! said on December 5, 2021 at 11:57 pm

    Wow, how GRAND and GRACIOUS of them. They must really care about their users. You know, in this day and age when we see how people are divided into those who without blinking bend over, believe and accept everything from governments/corporations and those who refuse, it’s quite remarkable (given the amount of refusers) how very few fail to do the same when it comes to technology. If we all stop using Windows, Windows will have to do what WE say and not the other way around. This of course doesn’t apply to apple products. If people stop buying apple products, their prices will skyrocket. And rich, vain, extremely dumb people will buy everything apple sell just because it costs a lot. Because humans are idiots. I have pictures to prove it.

  7. Trey said on December 5, 2021 at 9:16 pm

    Well it’s a start

  8. Dumbledalf said on December 5, 2021 at 8:09 pm

    I don’t really remember how it was in Vista or XP, but in Windows 7, 8 and 10 it was so much easier to set up default programs. I don’t know why Microsoft did this, I still managed to uninstall Edge and set my browser of choice as default, but it doesn’t have to be this annoying.

    1. common sense computing said on December 7, 2021 at 3:40 pm

      Says the dumb yet insulting Windows 11 bootlicker.

    2. ULBoom said on December 6, 2021 at 1:04 am

      More or less the same. This was miss # 478. If they were deliberately pushing their pathetic apps, this would have remained as it was much longer. It’s not like there was a mass migration to Linux or MacOS last week. I could certainly be wrong but they usually don’t capitulate so quickly.

      Maybe someone got yelled at really bad.

    3. Herman Cost said on December 5, 2021 at 9:01 pm

      You really don’t know why Microsoft did this? Let me help: they did it to push people to use Microsoft products like Edge and Bing. They know that most people who use their operating system might be able to switch to Chrome or Firefox if all it takes is one keystroke in an obvious place in Settings, but certainly have have no idea what a .htm file or the like might be. The harder it is to switch, the less people will do it .

      Simple right?

  9. Corky said on December 5, 2021 at 7:24 pm

    Absolutely guaranteed that Microsoft will keep trying to stop people from setting a default browser until such a time as there’s less blowback and people simply give up fighting it.

  10. JohnIL said on December 5, 2021 at 4:46 pm

    If you ask me I think Microsoft only reversed this by getting a lot of push back from users. Also probably a lot of calls to customer service from confused users who couldn’t figure out how to set defaults for each file type. I think the OS should default file types for a browser to whatever the end user chooses as the default browser. I am not sure this has been fully resolved as many have said the reversal does not set all file types to the default browser. Some remain attached to Edge. This sort of shenanigan’s by Microsoft only makes me not want to use Edge.

  11. Anonymous said on December 5, 2021 at 3:10 pm

    The rate at which abuse by Microsoft increases may slow down sometimes, but that doesn’t mean anything in the big picture.

  12. Red said on December 5, 2021 at 2:19 pm

    How did Microsoft knew what user thought? I really want them to know about ungrouping taskbar icons, as well. I used the Feedback app in Windows 11, and I’m sure many people want this change also, but is there another way?

  13. Paul(us) said on December 5, 2021 at 11:36 am

    Great article again Martin,
    Its nice to see that Microsoft Win. 11 has become a little bit more user friendly.
    There are still lots of other questions I have that first has to be resolved before, I am chancing to Windows 11.

    I have a question for you Martin (Or to anybody else who has tested this). Do you now or the Windows URL router browser program: BrokenUrl version 1.4.0 (this latest release is of 2021-11-28) is working under Windows11?
    I ask this because its my place to go to because I do not want links deciding for me which browser there going to open for me.

    1. Tom Hawack said on December 5, 2021 at 12:52 pm

      @Paul(us), ‘BrokenUrl’ is indeed a keen application. Does it work under Windows11? I have no idea but according to BrokenUrl’s homepage [] it should:

      OS Supported:

      Microsoft Windows Vista
      Microsoft Windows 7
      Microsoft Windows 8
      Microsoft Windows 8.1
      Microsoft Windows 10
      Microsoft Windows 11

      Has anyone tested? I’d be curious to know even if I’m very far from Win11…

      1. Paul(us) said on December 6, 2021 at 12:38 am

        @Tom, at 2021-11-28 when I updated BrokenUrl I heard some rumors that because of the restrictions Microsoft build in, to have only Microsoft Edge as a browser, BrokenUrl did not work.
        So now with the new Windows 11 browser possibility I was again wondering or right now BrokeUrl will work, smoothly on Windows 11?
        Just like you I am still very far away of installing Windows 11.

  14. eWaste11 said on December 5, 2021 at 11:01 am

    It should’ve been the first thing implemented 2 years ago in 10X. The talentless hacks over at Microsoft have no idea what they are doing. They always have to rely on backlash to get ideas.

  15. Anonymous said on December 5, 2021 at 10:33 am

    watch and be amazed as microsoft gets praised by every hack shill fraud tech “news” outlet on the planet for reintroducing a feature that should never, EVER have been removed in the first place

    1. ULBoom said on December 6, 2021 at 1:07 am

      I haven’t seen much praise so far, mostly WTF were they thinking articles.

    2. Anonymous said on December 5, 2021 at 2:26 pm

      I agree 100%.

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