Default Browser Change in Windows 11 Now Takes More Effort

Windows 11
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft has unveiled its Windows 11 operating system (OS) with plenty of new and improved features, but it feels like every time we take a few steps forward, we take one backward as well. According to a report from the Verge, Microsoft is making it harder to change your default web browser in Windows 11 OS.

Default browser choice in your OS should be a simple solution. Upon install of Windows OS, Microsoft sets the Edge browser to be your default option until you later choose anything else, usually Chrome or Firefox. And that is how it used to function before the arrival of Windows 11.

In the current Windows 10 OS, to change the default browser application you simply have to navigate to the Start Menu, type Default Apps, find the web browser drop-down menu, and select the desired default browser for all your browsing efforts. However, that is not how it functions in Windows 11.

In Windows 11, if you don't toggle the "Always use this app" box when opening links for the first time, Microsoft will simply default everything to the Edge browser. And changing that is no simple task. Unlike Windows 10, the new Windows 11 doesn't have an option to choose one browser for everything, but rather splits it by files. You have to choose the default application for opening of all files that are in HTM, HTML, PDF, SHTML, SVG, WEBP, XHT, XHTML, FTP, HTTP, and HTTPS format. That means a long process of choosing the default setting and maybe not known to many.

This process is not very friendly, especially for not tech-savvy people. Microsoft has noted that "With Windows 11, we are implementing customer feedback to customize and control defaults at a more granular level, eliminating app categories and elevating all apps to the forefront of the defaults experience," continuing that the company is constantly learning from the community and bettering the Windows 11 experience. 

Following its statement, it is pretty clear that the separation of all this change is imminent, but it would be still nicer to have a simple toggle like we see with Windows 10.

  • BillyBuerger
    Hmm, I haven't noticed any issue so far on my Win 11 PC where I use Firefox as my default browser. Might have to check that out later.

    Interesting side note, I took an older laptop I had and set it up for the beta channel with the plan of testing Win 11 on it. But then realized this has a 6th gen Intel CPU (i5-6300U) so didn't meet the requirements. But then in the last week, it suddenly said that Win 11 was ready to install. So it's running Win 11 as well. Seems they loosened the requirements there. Being a Thinkpad and more business focued, it's possible it has a TPM installed. I didn't check since I didn't think it was going to get past the CPU requirement.
  • InvalidError
    Changing the default browser is usually much simpler than searching through Windows options: whenever you open Chrome or FF and they aren't the default browser, they nag you to set them as default and automatically send you there if you click 'yes' until you tell them not to anymore.
  • hotaru251
    well MS usually I dont mind ur default stuff, but this is gonna be start of me legit never opening edge. I will install a old version of firefox just to download a modern version just to spite you.
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Windows 10 like this in everything which can open multiple file types?

    For example, I use Irfanview as my image viewer, have since 1995, and with Windows 10 I still get prompted ever so often, usually after Photos gets updated, to use Photos to open a JPG or PNG, and I have to select Irfanview from the dropbox and tick the "Always use this program..." box.

    I also get prompted every now and then that I should be using Edge to open PDFs and such.
  • Isn't that similar to what Microsoft did back in 1999 that landed them in court against the US, where Gates pretended to be dumb and illiterate?

    Could one simply create a reg file to do the work for them? Sure, not for the masses, but workable yes?
  • ezst036
    hotaru251 said:
    well MS usually I dont mind ur default stuff, but this is gonna be start of me legit never opening edge. I will install a old ass ersion of firefox just to download a modern version just to spite you.

    It doesn't seem like that would accomplish anything. If you wanted to spite Microsoft, the only way to do that effectively is to do a clean install of Linux. That is the ultimate Windows service pack after all.

    That's the way you handle a bully such as MS.
  • mitch074
    This brings us back to 1996, when installing a web browser on any OS required one to register all the MIME types it could handle.
  • BillyBuerger
    Not sure if whatever update this is hasn't gotten to me yet, but so far, my default browser stuff seems the same as with Win 10. It seems part of this is the default browser that urls open in which is defined by the default browser option and the the other part is file type association for things like local files. Things like htm/html files or others like pdf and xml and such. Those have always been per file type extension from my experience. I have a reg file that I import on my new installs that sets up all of my normal application associations. Windows has gotten annoying with that in making so many ways these are set in the system and user preferences and such. They could really use a better way of managing this. Doesn't sound like Win 11 is going to help now that some of these associations are going to get hidden in the "show more option" context menu. But that's a whole other issue.