How to change your web browser in Windows 11 (hint: this is not easy)

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If you get Starting with a fresh installation of Windows 11, you may notice a very important change: setting the default browser is now more complicated than in Windows 10. Microsoft is Browser controversy is no stranger, If you want to use anything other than it, it has now set up confusing obstacles in your path Relatively unpopular Edge browser.

In Windows 10, setting a new default web browser is very simple. When you install a new browser (such as Google Chrome or Mozilla’s Firefox), the application will prompt you to set it as the default browser and open the “Settings” application. You can complete the settings with just a few clicks. You can also search for “default apps” in “Settings”, click “Web Browser”, and then select the browser you want.

Now, the situation is different. Depending on the type of Windows device you have, there may be additional barriers. Here are the steps to change the browser:

First, disable S mode (if enabled)

Some Windows devices carry what Microsoft calls the S mode. This is a more locked version of Windows. You can only install applications through the Microsoft Store. You cannot use command-line tools. Microsoft tools such as Edge and Bing are not only the default settings, but also the only options.

Microsoft claims that this model is safer and more stable than the alternative model, which is technically true. For example, malware that you download from the Internet cannot run in this mode. But it is very limited, if you want to change the browser, you need to close it. You can do this by going to the Microsoft Store and searching for “S mode”, where you will see a list that will guide you through the process.

The frustrating thing is that you can’t turn S mode back on, so make sure this is what you want to do. If you want to use a computer or tablet in a locked, iPhone-like experience, S mode is ideal. However, if you want to change the default browser or install multiple types of software, you must leave S mode forever.

Next, change the browser defaults for all file types

Now it becomes very strange. In the past, there was an option to change the default web browser. But in reality, this actually refers to opening multiple files or links. For example, if you have ever opened a PDF file in Edge instead of Chrome, you will see how the default browser varies based on the type of file you are trying to open.

Windows 11 does not make this behavior more consistent across all links and file types, but simply requires users to choose a default value for each link and file type. This process is extremely cumbersome.

Photography: Eric Ravenscraft

To change the default value, follow these steps:

  1. Open the settings app and navigate to Application> Default application. (If your browser prompts you to change the default settings, it may automatically direct you here.)
  2. Search for the name of the browser you want to set as the default browser in the application list and select it.
  3. You will see a list of file or link types, including http, https, ftp, htm, html, shtml, pdf, etc.
  4. Click each file or link type you want to open with something other than Edge, select your new browser from the pop-up list, and click OK.
  5. If you receive a prompt asking you to check Edge before switching, click “Switch Anyway”.

This process can be annoying and tedious, but once all your default settings are set to the new browser, you don’t have to go back to it.


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