If you’ve updated your PC from Windows 10 to Windows 11, you may have noticed that when you click on a link for a website, PDF document, or a variety of other file types, you will now be sent to Microsoft’s Edge browser. . In its new version of Windows, Microsoft seems to have become particularly aggressive in pushing its own apps on apps that had been installed by default before the upgrade. In other words, Edge has suddenly become your default browser.
Normally, the first time you access another browser that is not Edge, for example Google Chrome, the non-Edge browser will ask you if you want to make it the default browser. However, the process of changing your default settings in Windows 11 has become more complicated than it was in Windows 10. So you may not have this convenient request – or if you do, it may. Take you to a complicated looking page titled “Application> Default Applications.” Either way, here’s how to change.
Change default browser
If you don’t want Edge to be your default browser and your preferred browser doesn’t offer to make the change for you – or if it did offer it but instead sent you to the “Default Applications” page – here’s how to change the default. For this example I am using Google Chrome, but it should work with any browser you have installed on your system.
Select Settings> Applications> Default applications Under “Set default settings for applications”, scroll to where your preferred browser is listed or enter the name in the “Search for applications” field. Click on the application.
Changing browsers means associating each type of file with your new browser. You’ll see a list of browser-related files and, under each file name, the application it’s currently associated with. In Windows 11, you can’t just change your default browser with one click – you have to change the assigned browser for each specific file type. Look for the file types assigned to Edge, such as .HTM, .HTML, HTTP, HTTPS, and maybe .PDF (unless you prefer a PDF reader). Click on the ones you want to change.
When you first click on a file type, Windows may try to discourage any changes. You may get a ‘Before you change’ pop-up prompting you to try Microsoft Edge – go ahead and click ‘Change anyway’. You’ll get a pop-up with a “Continue using this app” selection at the top and your other installed browsers below. Go ahead and select the one you want to use. (Be aware that there may be certain types of files that will not offer your browser as an alternative.)
You can modify each file type for an appropriate installed application.
Note: As of this reading, some browsers may have implemented a system that allows you to more easily change your default browser. For example, when this was written the first time I opened Firefox it asked me if I wanted it to become the default. I let it go, and when I went to the “Default Applications” section of the setup, I found that Firefox was now set to default for .HTM, .HTML, .HTTP, and .HTTPS files. Edge was still listed for .PDF, .SHTML, .SVG, .XHT, and .XHTML files.
Firefox’s default wizard changes some (but not all) of the browser’s file settings.
One more thing: If you open Edge for some reason, you’ll get the expected pop-up prompting you to go back to “Recommended browser settings.”
that will not solve everything
But wait – there is more. Even after switching your default browser to something other than Edge, you will still get Edge as your preferred browser for a number of Windows apps. For example, bring up the new Widget pane in Windows 11 (by clicking the Widgets icon in your taskbar, the one that looks like a two-pane window), and click one of the news items that appear there – and the Edge link will open.
If you find this irritating, there may be an app for it. To open Edge-specific links, you need to do the following:
Go to Settings> Apps> Default apps. Scroll down until you see “Choose default values by link type.” Click on it, then in the search box titled “Set Defaults for Link Types”, type “Edge.” Under the label “Microsoft-Edge, you will see” Microsoft Edge “. Click on it and you will see all the other browsers you can use to open these specialized links.
Interestingly, if you install Chrome or Firefox, you won’t see them as choices. But if you install the Brave browser, you’ll see it as an option – and if you select it, every time you click a news link in the Widget pane, it will show up in Brave.
You can configure the Brave browser to open widget links.
Another possibility is a tool called EdgeDeflector which was originally created to intercept all links in Windows 10 that were specific to Edge and rewrite them on the fly so that they can be opened by the default web browser. I scanned a bit and read that its latest version v126.96.36.199 would work with Windows 11.
I installed and followed the instructions for installation. Unfortunately, while it worked for most links, when I clicked on a news sources link in the Widgets pane, it didn’t quite work – the link opened in Chrome, but none of the graphics came out. I would keep an eye on this app, however …
Update October 8, 2021 at 1:10 p.m. ET: What happens when some browsers offer to change your default settings has been clarified.
Update October 10, 2021 at 10:30 a.m.ET: Updated to include instructions for Brave Browser to open certain specialized Windows links.