What you need to know
- You can now set Mozilla Firefox as your default browser from directly within the app.
- Firefox bypasses Microsoft's anti-hijacking measures to make this option possible.
- Usually, you have to go through the Windows 10 Settings app to change your default browser.
Windows 10 allows you to switch your default apps, but that process seemingly isn't quick enough for Mozilla's preferences. Recently, the browser maker figured out a way to bypass Windows 10's anti-hijacking protections, allowing people to set Firefox as their default browser with a single click. Microsoft's Edge browser can be set as your default with a single click, but no other browsers on Windows 10 have that privilege.
Firefox 91 came out on August 10, 2021. The latest version lets you set it as a default directly within the browser. You don't have to jump into the Windows 10 Settings app, which is normally the case.
"People should have the ability to simply and easily set defaults, but they don't," said a Mozilla spokesperson to The Verge. "All operating systems should offer official developer support for default status so people can easily set their apps as default. Since that hasn't happened on Windows 10 and 11, Firefox relies on other aspects of the Windows environment to give people an experience similar to what Windows provides to Edge when users choose Firefox to be their default browser."
Mozilla wrote a letter to Microsoft in 2015 regarding default apps and the choice of consumers.
Microsoft didn't set up Windows 10 this way exclusively to make it more difficult to have competing browsers as default apps. That's certainly a byproduct of the security measures in the operating system, but there are legitimate reasons to prevent apps from being able to set themselves as defaults. For example, attackers could trick people into downloading a seemingly innocent app that would then get people to set it as a default.
In addition to Windows 10 requiring a few extra steps to set default apps, there are times when the operating system ignores your default browser settings. For example, clicking links through Cortana will open in Edge regardless of your settings. Similar issues remain in Windows 11. You can force Windows to use your default browser settings with EdgeDeflector.
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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org.