Change Default Web Browser in Windows 8

Windows 8 comes with two flavors of Internet Explorer 10, one for the Metro UI and one for the desktop. If you don’t care to deal with either version, then you can go ahead and install a different browser like Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari. However, choosing to set the browser as the default browser in Windows 8 during the install doesn’t really seem to work, at least not for Chrome.

It seems like Microsoft just ignores that option and keeps IE as the default browser. In order to change it, you have to manually set the third-party browser as default. In this article, I’ll show you how to do that.

First, go ahead and install whichever browser you want to use instead of Internet Explorer. Then go to the Control Panel in Windows 8. You can read my post here on how to access the Control Panel quickly in Windows 8. Then go ahead and click on Default Programs.

default programs

Then click on the Set your default programs link.

set default programs

Next find the browser in the left-hand pane and then click the Set this program as default link.

set this program

That will set Chrome or whichever browser as the default for whatever file types and protocols are allowed. To see which files and protocols have been transferred, you can click on the Choose defaults for this program link.

chrome defaults

As you can see, any HTM or HTML file will now open in Chrome. However, there are some things you currently can’t override IE as the default. If you click on Internet Explorer in the left-pane and then click on Choose defaults for this program, you’ll see the following items:

ie defaults

Unfortunately, it doesn’t let you uncheck those items, so MHTML, pinned site shortcuts and Internet Shortcuts will still open in Internet Explorer. Even though this is set for IE, I created an Internet shortcut on my desktop and it opened in Chrome rather than IE.

Also, I tried clicking on a link in a Word doc and it also opened in Chrome. Lastly, I tried clicking on a link in a Metro app and it also opened in Chrome, though it looked like a Metro version of Chrome rather than the desktop version.

So at least for Google Chrome, you can set it as default through the Control Panel and Windows 8 will pretty much open all links and URLs in Chrome rather than IE. If you have tested other browsers, feel free to post your comments and results here. Thanks. Enjoy!