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MSEdgeRedirect can work around Microsoft's block that forces you to use Edge

Edge Dev Hero 2020 Newfeature
Edge Dev Hero 2020 Newfeature (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • An app called MSEdgeRedirect allows you to open any link from Windows in your web browser of choice.
  • MSEdgeRedirect works even following Microsoft's update to Windows that blocks protocol intercepting apps.
  • The app is in beta, so it may run into some issues.

Microsoft wants certain links within Windows 11 and Windows 10 to open in its Edge browser. When clicking on a link within Search in the Taskbar, the weather widget, or other elements of the operating system, Windows will open the corresponding webpage within Edge, even if you have a different browser set as your default. This behavior has drawn criticism from many who prefer to use their browser of choice.

Recently, several apps that could redirect these types of links were blocked by a Windows update. The OS now prevents any apps from intercepting protocol links, such as those found in Search in the Taskbar. There are security reasons for this setup, but some still prefer to always use their default browser.

A new app called MSEdgeRedirect is still able to block Windows from opening protocol links in Edge. It works differently than EdgeDeflector and other apps that intercept protocol links. MSEdgeRedirect passes the command line argument for Edge. According to the app's developer, this method should prevent Microsoft from blocking MSEdgeRedirect.

The app's description from GitHub states:

A Tool to Redirect News, Search, Widgets, Weather and More to Your Default BrowserThis tool filters and passes the command line arguments of Microsoft Edge processes into your default browser instead of hooking into the microsoft-edge: handler, this should provide resiliency against future changes. Additionally, an Image File Execution Options mode is available to operate similarly to the Old EdgeDeflectorNo Default App walkthrough or other steps, just set and forget.

MSEdgeRedirect is in beta, so you can expect some bugs and performance issues. While the app appears to work as intended, it's also worth being cautious when dealing with developers you aren't familiar with.

Sean Endicott
Sean Endicott

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.

25 Comments
  • Glad y'all made a post about it as I'm SURE Microsoft never reads these things. Smh. Foot, meet gun.
  • You think Microsoft would only learn about this if we wrote about it? I suppose I should take that as a compliment.
  • You did notice it was Free at GitHub (a MS product).
  • I wish you guys would stop characterizing this as Microsoft limiting your default browser choice. It's unrelated to this. This is about how the system handles "microsoft-edge://" URI links. These links are used in Windows Settings, Windows Search, and Widgets, among other places in the OS. Microsoft has stated that it does not consider this generic web content, but part of an "end-to-end experience", and so has chosen not to use web URLs. For reference, URI links allows developers to add links to open specific applications or default handlers. When the link is invoked, the system opens the resource using the same method as opening web pages in a browser. Here is an explainer: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/uwp/launch-resume/launch-defaul... I imagine Microsoft is blocking these workarounds because they are hijacking a bespoke OS capability in a way that undermines its express purpose. (After all there's a reason these links begin with "microsoft-edge://”.) Microsoft really has no choice but to shut this down, in the same way that trademark owners must sue to protect their trademarks even in the case of minor infringement. The precedent cannot be allowed to stand. I think you can have a discussion about whether it is proper for Microsoft to hard-code Edge links in Windows, but that's a different debate.
  • "This is about how the system handles "microsoft-edge://" URI links. These links are used in Windows Settings, Windows Search, and Widgets, among other places in the OS. Microsoft has stated that it does not consider this generic web content, but part of an "end-to-end experience", and so has chosen not to use web URLs." Thanks for putting this eloquently (Politely) than I probably would have.
    Don't how many times I have tried to say this; It is not a browser limiting feature, but deliberate design part for their Os. Maybe MSFT could put it app-like output where those usage do not use browser anymore. That should stop all these making this more than what it is.
  • Well normally at least on Widgets, it should open the corresponding app to begin with but they don't. Which makes a disjoint experience since there is literally a Weather app but it still opens an Edge browser to just open MSN weather. Since it opens a web browser, it causes mental conflict to users why it opens Edge when they already choose different browser, even something Edge Dev or Canary. It is just unintuitive to most people and simply not how most people expected to work, and it looks like Microsoft is not respecting the user defined settings. Even on iOS, people have been clamouring about this. Difference is that many of the experiences are handled by respective apps, which what most users tend to expect anyways. Only web search is where the browser will open or something opening a link, though they present it like an in-app browser so it still feels you are in the "app".
  • I understand why Microsoft has done what it has. I don't agree with the company's characterization of the experience. The protocol links in Windows don't take people to special websites. The destinations clearly function in any modern web browser. I understand why MS blocked protocol link interceptors. As I said in the article, hijackers could intercept links and direct people to malicious pieces of software or websites. You know how to get around that? Don't use protocol links for what is clearly generic web content, despite what MS labels it as. Microsoft doesn't need to use protocol links. If Microsoft wants a customized user experience for links within Windows, they should redirect people to apps. Clicking on the weather widget should open the weather app. Clicking on a news story should open the news app.
  • There is no "security reason for this", it is just Microsoft trying to push Edge down in your throat. I am no anti-Microsoft, I like both Windows and Surface products (actually I am writing this on a Surface Pro X), but those tactics are merely unacceptable. They should be fined for that.
  • That's incorrect. This is not a URL hijack for Edge where they are not honoring user selection for browser choice on URL links (which would make them guilty of your accusation), this is a third party program coming in and redirecting application links. That is a fundamental security problem. The link itself states to open in Edge. It is reasonable for the OS to protect the integrity of application-specific links. To the extent you have a valid concern, it's not about MS blocking these redirection tools, it's that they have released apps that are tied into Edge. In other words, they are treating Widgets and Windows Search as part of Edge, or Edge as part of those functions. But they are not being hypocrites about this or abusing their role as the OS developer: Google and Facebook can do this on Windows too with their integrated apps.
  • Right of course…they aren’t violating user choice…they made a whole new protocol so they could ignore your choice. See they Embraced the standard, then they Extended it with the Edge specific url. Now what was step 3 again?
  • Dude is it that bad to have a site open on Edge???? To me this is completely blown out of proportion.
  • If I have fought the ****** interface windows 11 gives me to indicate that I want to use a third party browser and Microsoft still forces my traffic to Edge yes, it’s a problem. It’s an insult to users and makes a mockery of Satya’s promise to devs to keep windows open.
  • Who wants to wait for Edge to load when the preferred browser is already opened? It's inefficient, and if you want to bookmark the page, it's stashed in Edge, not your preferred browser. Damned inconvenient, I'd say.
  • You guys need to give this a rest. This is ridiculous. Nobody cares.
  • Yes people do care. Even on this site people complain. Now visit a tech neutral site and the complaints go through the roof.
  • Ignorance and FUD drive a lot of concern and hyper-emotionalized complaints on the Internet. Still, always better to discuss it like this and risk some opinions fueling misinformation, than quash debate like so many tech companies are trying to do.
  • People care. And frankly one of the reasons that I care is because Microsoft is trying to keep less sophisticated users from using the third party browsers they prefer. First the new default apps menu is a disaster meant to confuse people into giving up. Then even if you got through it they pointedly ignore your expressed preference. If they really need this to make money then offer me an option to pay to kill it.
  • I'd suggest this is more for sophisticated users. Unsophisticated users just use the browser that is default, unless a 'sophisticated user' tells them they should use something else, and sets it up for them.
  • People do care, as those who don't use Edge gets annoyed that another browser opens on their desktop.
    It makes no difference to me as I don't use the built-in Windows search or widgets, I use files search in Explorer and that is it, but I still think MS should change this.
  • I've had a weird issue in Windows 11 that even with inquiries I've never been able to solve. It affects one URL: Facebook. In whatever current build of Edge I'm using, there is no text shown for names under contacts, group names, and a few other links. Yes, I've cleared the cache and other suggestions I've received and FB refuses to load properly and this behavior has plagued me since early 95.x.x. I went to the trouble of re-linking specific web types (http, https, etc.) in settings over to the dev build of Edge and it works like a charm - I've never seen any instance where Win 11 brought up the production version instead of the dev version for URI type links. My point is, you can switch between Edge channels without any fuss. My point being this specifically affects other browsers rather than versions of Edge (production, dev, canary) by design. I saw this kind of behavior for years on the Mac wherein no matter what I tried, Safari would come up for specific internal (and some external) links regardless of the browser I'd chosen whether it was Chrome, Vivaldi, or Edge and it drove me bats**t. I could perfectly understand this behavior on a new Mac prior to installing any other browser but there was no excuse for it once I chose my browser. I have no doubt that if I wanted to use Chrome or Vivaldi or Firefox in Win 11, I'd see a lot of content come up in Edge. In this day and age...good grief, did we go back in time 20 years? I reject the arguments that either Apple or MS have some "right" to present content in some specific way (via a browser!) that is married to the term "experience." Hogwash. True, there are miles of differences between a crappy browser like Safari compared to an admittedly great browser like Edge. No matter. Within limits, my build of Win 11 on my Surface Pro should behave the way *I* want it to behave. No, I don't expect that functions finally being handed off from Control Panel over to Settings remain in Control Panel by default. We get that. Web browser defaults and functionality have nothing to do with "user experience" unless it's forced. I suppose from my perspective it's not a hill I'm willing to die on in Win 11 since I honestly do like Edge and I'm even grateful I suppose that I was able to switch to the dev channel as a default to fix that pesky FB oddity. This corporate behavior from Apple on the Mac sucks even harder. I tried many times over the course of about 10 years to switch to Safari to see it could suit my needs and it just never did and it seems impossible that Apple still can't get a browser right as MS did with Edge. Let your users choose their browser in the same manner they can choose their default video player. This issue was, or should have been, decided ages ago when Gates was still at the helm and they were involved in an anti-monopoly suit. There's just no excuse to still be discussing this in nearly 2022.
  • Now people can use the exact same internet browser as before except it makes Google more money through advertising and siphoning of our personal information, data and tends. I was so stressed before because my internet browser was Chrome but it wasn't making Google any money so now I can rest assured that I am feeding one of the most powerful and dominant tech companies in the world who happens to copy Apple's draconian app store policies. Great ethical choice everyone!
  • The ethical choice is for Microsoft to respect a users expressed preferences without playing games to boost the DAU numbers for edge and bing,
  • edge is actually a good browser, so whats the problem on switching to chrome
  • Why even have an option to use another browser at all? /s
  • I've done DuckDuckGo technical searches that lead to a Microsoft site, and the thing refuses to open in Brave or Waterfox. Of course, Edge opens it perfectly. To me, this is just another example of MS forcing Edge down our throats.