Changing Your Default Browser in Windows 10

First – in many ways I actually like Microsoft’s new internet browser, Edge. It certainly is an improvement over the now retried, Internet Explorer. However Edge is a browser still in its infancy – which can make using it frustrating at times. The additional problem here is that Edge is the default browser in Windows 10.

Because Edge is the default browser in Windows 10 many people are running the browser, and many of them might run it only because Microsoft has made it the Windows 10 default. You might be one of them.

In this article, I will outline the reasons you may want to switch from Edge to Chrome (my favorite), Firefox, Opera or another browser, and then show how you can replace Edge with any browser of your choice as your default.

One last note before we dive in: Even if you’ve previously set up another browser to be your default, it might have been changed since then. When there’s a major Windows 10 upgrade, the upgrade recommends switching to Edge, and you might have inadvertently made the switch.

Whatever the reason, though, if Edge is your Windows 10 browser, it’s easy to switch.

Why edge away from Edge?

There are plenty of reasons to move to a different browser. Start off with extensions — or more precisely, the lack of them. Edge was finally given extension support in August 2016, but even now the number of extensions is embarrassingly low — only about 65 as I write this. Chrome and Firefox each have thousands of extensions and add-ons. So if you want to improve your browser with add-ons and extensions, Edge isn’t the way to go.

If you’re a fan of Gmail, Edge isn’t the browser for you, either. Edge won’t display the Google Inbox, which is a far more efficient way to manage mail than the default Gmail interface.

Edge also has a number of awkward or just plain weird behavioral quirks. Open a new tab, for example, and there’s no address bar on it. To visit or URL or do a search, you have to type them into the search box. But when you’re visiting a site, you use the address bar. Speaking of the address bar, it doesn’t show the protocol being used on a web site, such as http or https. True, it shows a lock icon for https sites, but it’s nice to be able to see the entire address including the protocol, rather than having to look for a lock icon.

Finally, you might not want to use Edge for aesthetic reasons. Not everyone is a fan of its stripped-down look or the way it handles bookmarks and your history list — they are difficult to find, hidden under hard-to-decipher icons in out-of-the-way places. And even when you get to them, it’s not at all clear how to perform common tasks, such as adding folders or reorganizing Favorites.

How to designate another browser as your default

If you decide you want to switch to another browser as your default, it’s easy to do. You’ll need to first install the other browser on your system. After that’s done, click the Windows 10 Start button and click the Settings icon that appears on the left-hand side of the screen. (It looks like a little gear.) You can also type “settings” into the search box and click the Settings result that appears at the top of the screen.

Windows 10 Settings app Microsoft

In the Settings app screen, you’ll take one of two actions depending on what version of Windows 10 you’re using. If you’ve upgraded to the Windows 10 Creators Update, which was released in April 2017, select Apps > Default apps. If you haven’t yet upgraded to the Windows 10 Creators Update, you won’t see an Apps icon on the Settings screen. Instead, select Settings > System > Default apps.

On the Default apps screen, you’ll see the default apps for email, maps, playing music, viewing photos and videos, and more. To change the default browser, you’ll have to scroll down to the bottom of your screen.

Windows 10 settings - default apps Microsoft

When you get to the bottom of the screen, you’ll see Microsoft Edge under the “Web browser” listing. Click the Microsoft Edge icon and you’ll see a pop-up with a list of your installed browsers.

Windows 10 settings - selecting a new default browser Microsoft

(Side note: The pop-up also has a “Look for an app in the Store” option, but if you click it, you won’t find Chrome, Firefox, Opera or any other browser you’ve likely ever heard of. Clicking it launches a search of the Windows App Store for the term “http,” which turns up a motley collection of apps, from file downloaders to an app that dims your Windows background to make it easier to view videos. There are also some little-known browsers listed, such as AeroBrowse and BlueSky Browser. Try them out if you like, but keep in mind that they’re Windows Store apps, and as a general rule, Windows Store apps are underpowered compared to desktop apps like Chrome, Firefox and Opera.)

Click the browser that you’d like to be your default browser. As you’ll see when you click it, Microsoft doesn’t particularly want you to switch. A screen appears asking you to stay with Edge.

Windows 10 settings - before you switch browsers popup Microsoft

Click “Switch anyway,” and your new browser will now be the default. No need to restart; your work is done.

Windows 10 settings - Chrome as default browser

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Fixing Adobe Acrobat in Windows 10

Life is good. Microsoft Edge is your new default web browsing experience on Windows 10, and it offers a new streamlined interface, speed improvements, and a lot of new features, including the ability to open PDF files. However there is where a problem emerges for some of us.

While the PDF reader is a convenient feature, it currently only offers some basic functionalities, and out-of-the-box, Windows 10 makes it your default system PDF reader whether you like it or not. If you prefer to use a more advanced application, such as SumatraPDF, Xodo, or Adobe Acrobat Reader, or after a Windows 10 upgrade your settings aren’t preserved, you may want to change your settings to disable Microsoft Edge as your default PDF reader every time you open a file.

Lets walk through the steps to change your system settings to stop opening PDF files in the web browser by default.

How to disable Microsoft Edge as default PDF reader

In order to disable Microsoft Edge’s PDF feature, you need to change the file association, which you can do with the following steps:

Using the Settings app
  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Apps.
  3. Click on Default apps.
    • Note: If you’re still running the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the path is Settings > System > Default apps.
  4. Click the Choose default apps by file type link.
  5. Scroll down and find .pdf (PDF File), and click the button on the right side, which is likely to read “Microsoft Edge.”
  6. Select your app from the list to set it as the new default.
  7. Click the Switch anyway link to confirm the change.

Once you completed the steps, Microsoft Edge will no longer open PDF files by default in the web browser.

Using the file context menu

Alternatively, you can quickly make another app as your default PDF reader, using the following steps:

  1. Right-click a PDF file.
  2. Select Open With.
  3. Click on Choose another app.
  4. Select the PDF application you want to use.
  5. Check the Always use this app to open .pdf files option.
  6. Click OK.

If you don’t see the app you want to use in the list, click the More apps link at the bottom of the list. You can also click the Look for another app on this PC to find the PDF application you want to set as default.

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Can Edge Save Microsoft?

Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer are losing market share at a rapid clip.

Internet Explorer market share has reportedly dropped 2.1 percentage points since last month, which is the largest one-month decline IE has seen in 11 years.

Microsoft_edge_Windows_10

Microsoft’s worldwide browser market share stood at 44.8 percent last month down from 57.4 percent a year earlier.

Meanwhile, Google Chrome’s browser market share is surging, snatching 36.6 percent of the worldwide browser market in February, up from about 25 percent in February 2015. Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari are still trailing the two leaders with 11.7 percent and 4.9 percent market share last month, respectively.

The news, while good for Google is proving troubling to Microsoft. There was a time, after all, when nearly every computer around the world relied upon a Microsoft browser. However the growing popularity of Chrome, coupled with years of disappointment from Internet Explorer, is finally catching up to Microsoft.

Realizing that, Microsoft last year launched the Edge browser with Windows 10. I have found Edge to be “a fast, lightweight browser with good standards support and a few unique tools, but with no extension or syncing capabilities, it’s not yet ready for prime time.

But whether that’s too little, too late remains to be seen. Chrome is largely gaining its users from those Microsoft is losing. And although Microsoft has stopped supporting Internet Explorer versions 10 and under, Chrome has still been able to nab market share from Internet Explorer 11, which Microsoft still supports.

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