Windows 11 allows you to set the default browser in a single click, here's how to do it
Windows and its default browser, I don't think you could name a more controversial duo in recent history. Microsoft has toyed with the settings for changing the default browser too many times, much to the annoyance of users.
Mozilla was the first among the big tech to cry foul, when the Redmond-based company buried the option to switch to a different browser, deep in its Settings app, and labeled Edge as the recommended browser. With the release of Windows 11, things took a turn for the worse. The new Settings app has a list of file types and URLs for the browser, each of which has to be changed manually to set the browser as the handler for the corresponding types. This is a cumbersome task.
Once again, Mozilla hit back at Microsoft and discovered a workaround that allowed users to set Firefox as the default browser in Windows 11. That joy, however, was short-lived, as the loophole was patched in a Windows Update released in December 2021.
It was around the same time that Microsoft began promoting Edge aggressively in new ways. Searching for a different browser in Edge's default search engine, Bing, resulted in a banner that appeared with a message informing the user that there is no need to download a new web browser, and that Microsoft Edge offers a fast, secure and modern web experience. This led to Vivaldi's CEO, Jón von Tetzchner, calling out Microsoft Edge for its anti-competitive practices.
The KB5011563 Windows Update that was released yesterday, as a Cumulative Preview Patch for the Windows 11 stable channel, brought a hidden change that could well be the solution to this problem. It allows users to set their preferred browser as the default handler, in a single click.
How to set the default browser in Windows 11 (Build 22000.593 or above)
1. Open the Settings app.
2. Click on Apps in the side panel.
3. Select Default Apps, and click in the text box under "Set defaults for applications".
4. Search for the program that you would like to set as the default browser. e.g. Firefox, Vivaldi, Chrome, etc. I'm using Firefox for this tutorial.
5. The application's name should appear among the search results, click on it.
6. Hit the "Set Default" button at the top of the page, to make it as your default browser.
It takes a single-click as opposed to multiple clicks in previous builds. This will set the program to open the following types by default: HTM, HTML, HTTP and HTTPS. If you want to set it as the handler for the other formats, you will need to do so manually. Some browsers will be set to open other formats like PDF, MHTML, SHTML when you assign them as the default browser.
Note: Changing the default browser in Windows 11 does not make web searches from the Start Menu to open in the program you selected. Microsoft restricts this functionality to Edge, something else that it has been criticized for.
The new option was introduced in the Dev Channel in Windows Insider Program, in December 2021. It took a few months to arrive to the stable release, but it was worth the wait, as this is a win for user choice.
I'm not sure whether the change was made based on negative feedback from users, or in fear of another antitrust lawsuit. Hopefully Microsoft has learned its lesson.
Wow, how easy and convenient. Microsoft truly are forerunners in every aspect. I wish every company would be this fast to implement these simple and often overlooked things caused by other shameless companies that refuse to listen to users or co-operate with other companies on a level playing field. Microsoft is a role model to all of us. Other companies driven by greed should be ashamed of themselves.
Now if they only do that for all general programs – video player, audio player, PDF reader, Photo viewer, it will be good. I still don’t know why they did it like this in the first place with Windows 11. When people started whining about the default browser, Microsoft was very quick to add it, so obviously it’s not a technical limitation on their side, but their sheer unwillingness to do it.
Its clear the Windows team is completely unskilled. They redesigned the settings app but did not apply the same functionality as the old one? It took public feedback to get this function back. Quite sad how far Microsoft has fallen. Low quality work all around Windows 11. The lead managers in charge should be reassigned to help desk.
I completely agree. At first, I was happy with W11 at the very beginning, however today I must say that W11 is a very low quality product itself, it’s complicated and not prepared enough to use in working tasks. I sincerily believe that MS don’t know what to do with it at all. They don’t have good ideas to release an OS and with the enough productivity and easy to work without to install an amount of third party software. W11 is a big nonsense, they released crap and everything they are doing is avoiding the bad smell. Thanks @Ashwin for this good article and the useful instructions. :]
Somebody is starting to get scared because of EU’s MCA haha. Go EU, force M$ to make all the bloatware apps it includes in Windows uninstallable, add ballons to choose and download our default browser and the default search engine intergrated in Windows like in Windows search and force M$ to remove all the ads it has in Windows for their subscription services like Onedrive, Office, Clipchamp, xbox and gamepass.
The big advantage Windows has over Mac is configurability. Are Microsoft getting the message to lose that loses users.
This is currently no longer possible.
Any changes made – both for the browser and for the PDF files – are canceled on reboot! (Win 11 Home 21H2 buil 22000.832)
Uninstalling Edge doesn’t even allow you to choose another default browser. However, it lets you choose another program for the PDFs.