vIf you upgraded your PC from Windows 10 to Windows 11, you may have noticed that when you click on a link to a website, a PDF document, or a variety of other file types, you are now directed to Microsoft’s Edge browser. Microsoft appears to have become especially aggressive in pushing its apps over the apps that had been installed as defaults before the upgrade in its new version of Windows. In other words, Edge became your default browser all of a sudden.
Normally, the first time you open a non-edge browser, such as Google Chrome, the non-edge browser will ask if you want to make it the default instead. However, changing your defaults in Windows 11 has become more difficult than it was in Windows 10. So you might not get that useful request, or if you do, you might end up on a complicated-looking page labeled “App > Default apps.” In any case, here’s how to make the switch.
CHANGE YOUR 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 did offer but instead direct you to the “Default apps” page — here’s how to change the default. I’m using Google Chrome in this example, but this should work with any browser you have installed on your system.
- Navigate to Settings > Apps > Default Apps.
- Scroll down to where your preferred browser is listed under “Set defaults for applications,” or type the name into the “Search apps” field. Select the app.
- You’ll see a list of browser-related files, as well as the app with which each file is currently associated. In Windows 11, you can’t simply change your default browser with a single click; instead, you must change the browser assigned to each specific file type.
- Look for file types associated with Edge, such as.HTM,.HTML, HTTP, HTTPS, and possibly.PDF (unless you have a PDF reader you prefer). Select the ones you want to change by clicking on them.
- If you see a “Before you switch” pop-up encouraging you to try Microsoft Edge, click “Switch anyway.” You’ll see a pop-up with the option to “Keep using this app” at the top and your other installed browsers below. Go ahead and choose which one you want to use. (Be aware that some file types may not offer your browser as an alternative.)
Please keep in mind that by the time you read this, some browsers may have implemented a system that allows you to more easily switch your default browser. For example, when I first opened Firefox after writing this, it asked if I wanted it to be the default browser. When I went to the “Default apps” section of setup, I discovered that Firefox was now set as the default for.HTM,.HTML,.HTTP, and.HTTPS files. Edge was still listed as an option for.PDF,.SHTML,.SVG,.XHT, and.XHTML files.
Finally, if you open Edge for any reason, you’ll see the expected pop-up urging you to return to “recommended browser settings.”
THAT WILL NOT RESOLVE EVERYTHING.
But wait a minute — there’s more. Even if you change your browser default to something other than Edge, Edge will continue to be the preferred browser for several Windows apps. For example, open Windows 11’s new Widget pane (by clicking on the Widgets icon in your taskbar, which looks like a two-paned window), and then click on one of the news items that appear there — the link will open Edge.
If that irritates you, there may be an app for that. To open Edge-specific links, perform the following steps:
- Navigate to Settings > Apps and then Default Apps.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page until you see “Choose defaults by link type.”
- Click on that, and then type “Edge” into the search box labeled “Set defaults for link types.”
- “Microsoft Edge” appears under the label “Microsoft-Edge.” When you click on that, you’ll see a list of other browsers that you can use to access those specialized links.
Surprisingly, if you install Chrome or Firefox, you will not see them as options. However, if you install the Brave browser, you will see it as an option — and if you select it, then whenever you click on a news link in the Widget pane, it will open in Brave.
Another option is EdgeDeflector, a tool designed to intercept Edge-specific links in Windows 10 and rewrite them on the fly so that they can be opened by the default web browser. Some research was done and discovered that its most recent version, v18.104.22.168, is compatible with Windows 11.