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How to change the default browser in Windows 11

Changing the default browser is more challenging in Windows 11 than in Windows 10. But you can still do it. Here’s how.

With Windows 11, Microsoft has altered the steps for changing your default browser from Edge to a different program. A process that’s relatively simple in Windows 10 is more confusing and cumbersome in Windows 11. But don’t give up. You can still shift your default browser. Changing the default to Firefox is the easiest option as Mozilla’s browser offers a built-in method. Changing to Chrome or another browser is more involved but still doable. Let’s see how this works.

SEE: Windows 11 cheat sheet: Everything you need to know (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

First, let’s say you’ve installed Firefox, Chrome or a different browser and want to make it the default instead of Edge.

Firefox

We’ll try Firefox first. With version 91, Mozilla improved and eased the way you can make it your default in Windows. Open Firefox and make sure you’re running version 91 or higher. To check, click the hamburger icon in the upper right, select Help and then select About Firefox. The browser will either tell you that it’s up to date or it will download the latest update.

Restart Firefox after the update has installed. Again, click the hamburger icon and select Settings. At the General section of the Settings screen, click the Make Default button (Figure A). Firefox then tells you that it’s currently your default browser.

Figure A

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Google Chrome and other browsers

To change the default browser to Google Chrome, open Chrome, click the three-dot icon in the upper right, and then go to Settings. At the Settings screen, select the section for Default Browser and then click the button for Make Default (Figure B). You’re whisked away to the Default Apps screen under Windows 11 Settings. To change it for another browser or even Chrome, simply go directly to the Windows 11 Settings screen, navigate to Apps, and then select Default Apps.

Figure B

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But now lies the challenge. In Windows 10, you can easily change your default browser with one action, and it will change for all web-based file types, including htm, html, http, https etc. But in Windows 11, you have to change each file type separately.

Scroll down the Default Apps screen and click the option for Google Chrome or whatever browser you want to set as the default. The next screen will show you Edge as the default for virtually every file type. Click the first type that you wish to change from Edge, most likely HTM. Of course, Microsoft will attempt to impede your efforts by trying to convince you to stick with Edge. Click the button for Switch Anyway (Figure C).

Figure C

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Then choose your new preferred browser, either Chrome or something else. Click OK (Figure D).

Figure D

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Use the same steps to change the remaining file types currently set to use Edge as the default. At a minimum, you’ll want to change the default for htm, html, shtml, xht, xhtml, ftp, http and https (Figure E).

Figure E

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The previous steps will work for the usual web-based file types but not for all content. Click on a link from the Windows 11 widgets screen, for example, and Microsoft still opens the linked page with Edge. There is a workaround, thanks to a third-party utility known as EdgeDeflector. Launch any browser except Edge and browse to the GitHub page for EdgeDeflector. Download and install the program.

Go back to the Windows 11 Settings screen, select Apps, and then select Default Apps. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click the link for Choose Default Apps By Link Type. Scroll down until you see an entry for MICROSOFT-EDGE. Click that entry and select EdgeDeflector. Click OK (Figure F).

Figure F

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Now open the widgets app and click a link for a news story or other item, and it will open in your actual default browser.

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