How to change your default browser

A few weeks ago I downloaded the Opera web browser because I read version 15 had some interesting features.  The installation was swiftly finished without a cinch so I closed up my laptop and called it a day.

The following morning I clicked a link in an email a friend sent me and noticed the computer was taking an inordinate amount of time to launch Chrome, my default browser.

But Chrome never loaded.  Instead, Opera popped on the screen with the dozens of tabs I had open during my previous browsing session.  Opera brazenly usurped the throne as my default browser and made itself king!  I don’t recall it politely asking if I wanted to make Opera my default browser.  No, instead, it furtively made itself my default browser without my knowledge.

How insidious.

Let’s just say I was pretty pissed because now I had to wait for all those tabs to load.  And since I already had a bunch of resource intensive applications open on my computer, the Opera load completely debilitated my system.

I thought to myself:

All I wanted to do was click a link and leave… now my computer is gasping for dear life as Opera rudely spikes my RAM usage…

Incidentally, I realized that I’m probably not the only person in internet land who has had his default browser hi-jacked.  That’s why in this article I’m going to show you how to set your default browser back on the throne so you can avoid similar browser blues.

Changing the default browser

In Windows 7, click Start and enter this command in the search box:

set default

The default programs window zips onto the screen and starts loading your default programs.  It took about 20 seconds to load on my computer but your time may vary depending on your number of installed applications.

Windows 7 set default program

Find the browser you want to reclaim as your default in the left pane.  Selecting it opens a short description in the right pane along with the option to Set this program as default.

Windows 7 Set Program As Default

Click that and you should see the little caption under the description change from this program has blah out of blah defaults to:

This program has all its defaults

Click OK and you’re done.

Changing the defaults per browser

You’re good to go at this point; however I wanted to show you how to set your default program in Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox.  You don’t have to do this if you used the above steps; however, it’s nice to know you can if you want.  Options are nice.

In Chrome, open a new tab and enter this:

chrome://settings/

Then scroll down to the bottom and click the Make Google Chrome my default browser button.

How to set Chrome as your default browser

In Internet Explorer, click the little gear in the upper right corner of the browser just under the red X and choose Internet Options in the drop down menu.

A tabbed window with a bunch of options opens, just click the second to last tab called Programs and click the Make default button.

On a side note: I’m not sure why anyone would ever intentionally set Internet Explorer as his or her default browser but – hey, I won’t judge you.  If you have a secret crush on IE that’s none of my business.

Set Internet Explorer as Default Browser

Firefox fans can set Firefox as their default browser by pressing Alt + t to bring up the options menu and then press the o (oh) key.

Windows 7 set Firefox as your default browser

In the Options window, click the last tab named Advanced then choose the General sub-tab and click the big ol’ Make Firefox the default browser button.

You can even enforce this default so Firefox remains king when unruly browsers like Opera vie for the throne.  Just check “Always check to see if Firefox is the default browser on startup” and you’ll be all set.

The Bottom Line

Browsers are constantly contending for the number one spot on your computer.  When your default browser gets hi-jacked, it’s nice to know you can always change it back using the Default Programs box in Windows or by visiting the options of your favorite browser and making it number one again.

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Posted in Google Chrome, How To, Internet Explorer 9, Mozilla Firefox, Web Browsers, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Vista, Windows XP Tagged with:
  • David Sanderson

    Hi Vonnie,
    I’m using IEv11 on WIndows 8.1.
    I also have Chrome and Torch installed. Presently Chrome is set as the default browser.
    I wish to return IE to default browser (reason: Chrome and Torch wont play sound, only IE plays sound???).
    Question 1 – what if, when you go to ‘Programs’ in IE Options, IE is already ticked and also greyed out?
    Question 2 – what if Internet Explorer doesn’t appear in ‘Set Your Default Pragrams’?
    Question 3 – what if, when you go to ‘Associate a file type…’, all the usual .htm, .html, etc files are all associated to IE?
    Question 4 – What if, under ‘Set Program Access and Computer Defaults’, the ‘Microsoft Windows’ radial button is selected?
    (Yes, I have restarted my computer, saved changes when changes were made, etc).
    …..
    but when I start a .html hyperlink it starts in Chrome.
    all other desktop shortcuts also start in Chrome.
    I can click the IE shortcut icon, either in on desktop or task-bar, and IE works fine.
    This has got me puzzled… do you have any solutions?
    Thanks
    David

  • Pioneer

    None of the above advice has worked for me. I downloaded Firefox due to one program I need that doesn’t work on IE 11. Now Firefox also has become the default browser for when I post my website to the web and I don’t know how to get that one function to cease. I don’t know if it has usurped other functions, but assume it has.