Microsoft is reintroducing options to set a default web browser on Windows 11

A recently released build to the Windows 11 Dev channel includes a much requested feature that Microsoft removed from the launch version of Windows 11: the ability to set a default web browser on the system with just a click.

Windows 11 set default browser

When Windows 11 launched, users of the operating systems noticed that setting default applications was not as easy anymore as it was under Windows 10. On Windows 10, users could set defaults for several types of applications, including the web browser, music player, video player, and email, with just a few clicks.

windows 10 default apps

All it took was to select Start > Settings > Apps > Default Apps, click on one of the available types on the page that opens, and select a different program for the job. Windows 10 would then map all supported file types to the application.

Microsoft removed that handy option from Windows 11, making it much harder to set new default programs. While it is still possible to do so, it is now required to set each file type individually. Considering that web browsers support a few dozen file types, including .htm, .pdf, .html, .svg and others, it is clear that performing this simple task has evolved into a nuisance.

Windows 11 Build 22509.1000, released to the developer channel, includes several usability improvements. Besides more Start Menu design options, it includes options to set a web browser as the default application for all supported file types. Microsoft is resurrecting the Windows 10 feature, and the only change is that the setting is no longer found under Default Apps, which no longer exists in that form under Windows 11, but when you open the application in Default Apps on Windows 11.

There you find the new option to make the selected browser the default on the system. Doing so maps all supported file types to the browser. The change does not impact the Microsoft-Edge specific protocol that Windows 11 uses for certain links, e.g. those in widgets. Tools like Edge Deflector or MSEdgeRedirect may be used to redirect these requests to another web browser.

Web browsers are the only type of program currently that have the revived feature. When you check others, e.g. video players, you won’t find the option to set these as the default for all supported file types with one click. It is possible that future builds will bring back the functionality for other types of programs.

Closing Words

The change brings back a much needed usability feature on Windows 11. There is still the chance that it won’t land in release versions of Windows 11, considering that it is currently available in test builds only. The introduction of the feature for other main application types, e.g. media players, would make a lot of sense as well.

Now You: do you set programs manually as the default, or let the programs do that (if supported and not blocked by Windows)

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