Controversially, Microsoft is making it much harder to change your default browser in Windows 11, but there are even deeper problems. In some cases, Windows 11 will simply ignore the choice you laboriously made: for example, when you use Start or Widget search, the results will appear in Microsoft Edge no matter which browser you prefer.
Obviously, third parties will step in to solve these problems. And one already has: Daniel Aleksandersen has published a new version of its EdgeDeflector utility that takes on some of the ugliness in Windows 11.
“Seemingly normal-looking web links all over Windows 10, the Cortana digital assistant, and Microsoft apps like Mail, News, and Your Phone force-open in Microsoft Edge rather than in your system-defined default web browser,” he explains. “EdgeDeflector lets you use your default web browser even when Windows normally force-opens Microsoft Edge instead. The app is tiny and it’s free to install and use.”
Yes, it is.
You can download EdgeDeflector here. After installing the executable, you’ll be prompted to take a few additional steps to complete the installation. But the instructions are for Windows 10 and can’t be replicated in Windows 11. Instead, open Settings (WINKEY + I), navigate to Apps > Default Apps, and scroll down to “Choose defaults by link type.” Then, search for the term MICROSOFT-EDGE and change that to EdgeDeflector as per the dialog shown above.
To test it, try using an experience that normally force-opens Microsoft Edge. For example, open Widgets (WINKEY + W) and select a news story. It will open in the browser you prefer, and not in Microsoft Edge. Sweet victory.
If you’re curious about how Microsoft is slyly redirecting users to Edge, MSN News, and Bing in Windows 11, be sure to check out Aleksandersen’s post: he has a nice description of how EdgeDeflector stops this behavior.