Windows 11's Complicated Default Browser System - Episode 266 - Show Notes

Windows 11's Complicated Default Browser System - Episode 266

Sunday Aug 22, 2021 (00:18:00)


With the upcoming Windows 11, Microsoft is introducing a lot of new features, as well as updated interfaces for long-time aspects of the operating system. While some updates are receiving praise, like the updated Microsoft Paint, others are not being received so well. One of those unpleasant changes is the default apps process. In the past, changing a default app, such as your browser, was a pretty easy process. In fact, in most browsers, you would receive a banner across the top saying, "This is not your default browser. Would you like to make it default?" If you clicked the button, you would receive a dialog allowing you to choose your new browser.

Today, however, this process is different. Unfortunately, it seems to be based around the terrible iOS 14 system, in which you need to choose the application from the default programs settings menu, rather than the task at hand (default browser). Under those settings, you get a ton of new options, rather than just choosing the default for the task. Among them is one option for HTTP and another for HTTPS. While there are two options available, they seem to be linked, meaning if you set one, the other changes.

So, you might be wondering why there are two options, and you would be right to wonder that. You might also wonder why the option isn't called "Default Browser" rather than mentioning specific protocols, which are tied together. All of this indicates a level of insight that Microsoft seems to be missing right now.

The company claims that the changes are intended to bring finer granularity to the control of which browser does what. In fact, you can have *.htm files open in a different browser from *.html files. Why you would want that is a mystery, but it is still an option. You can also change what program opens PDF files, and a whole lot more. But all of this was available before, just hidden behind an advanced menu - not available for your parents to get confused by.

There is also the issue of certain parts of the OS completely ignoring your default browser selection. For example, if you do a Windows Search and click on a result, it will not open in your default browser. Instead, it opens in Edge - no matter what. The same situation exists for the new Widgets panel - all links always open in Edge. Neither of these are new issues, but they are annoying nonetheless.

Fortunately, there is a tool called EdgeDeflector, which takes requests from Search and News and redirects them from Edge to your default browser. This works in current versions of Windows as well as Windows 11. Avram has a tutorial on how to install and configure EdgeDeflector, as well as how to change the default browser in the new Windows 11 interface available over on Tom's Hardware.


Scott Ertz


Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.

Avram Piltch


Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.

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