Windows 11 Tip: Use EdgeDeflector to Enforce Your Browser Choice

Posted on September 7, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 11 with 39 Comments

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.

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Comments (39)

39 responses to “Windows 11 Tip: Use EdgeDeflector to Enforce Your Browser Choice”

  1. sherlockholmes

    Its sad that you actually need to do that. One more reason to stay on Windows 10 for at least one feature Update.

    • navarac

      ....or a compelling reason to use another OS altogether, methinks. :-(

      • sherlockholmes

        I am thinking of getting a Mac mini .....

        • wright_is

          I put openSUSE on my main PC over the weekend and I am looking at getting a mac Mini the end of the year or early next year. I'm hoping there will be an update to 2nd generation Apple Silicon by then...

          • sherlockholmes

            Its actually sad that long time Windows users like us are thinking about switching.

            • infloop

              I have been using a Mac since the M2010 MacBook Pro, and Ubuntu since 12.04 when Microsoft discontinued TechNet (now using Debian), along with Windows 8.1 on my primary desktop I built in 2012, and Windows 10/Debian dual boot on an 8th gen Intel NUC. I have to say that there are still pain points with each OS, just like any other piece of tech. They also all have their upsides and uses, and it basically becomes knowing to use the right tool for the job.

              I agree though that the push toward mobile-like interfaces and deprecating on-premises servers for the cloud makes it harder for us power users to keep sticking with Windows. I have been using Hyper-V Server 2016, and it looks like I will need to transition to something else like Proxmox.

  2. bluvg

    re: iOS + Safari: exactly. Doesn't seem to produce the same kind of froth (plus it's Apple), granted it's been like that since the beginning.

  3. bluvg

    All these "I'm never moving to Windows 11" comments: ok, fair enough. But legit criticisms (and otherwise) aside, the same chorus is heard every. single. Windows. launch. Many also said never XP, Windows 98 forever. Then many were never 7, XP forever.

    • miketheheadski

      I find that pretty funny too. It surprises me that so many people that seem to hate Windows, Microsoft, and everything they do follow this site. Anyway, I could not care less. I use Edge and I like it. Right now, I can't install Windows 11 on any of my PCs because none of them meet the min requirements, but I am looking forward to seeing it in action when I buy a PC that does.

    • christophercollins

      You are right. It is the same chorus every time and they ultimately upgrade.

      The MacOS upgrade train isn't smooth like everything thinks, nor is the beta program.

      I use Windows on Desktop and MacOS on my laptop.

      The entire beta experience and reverting back is easier on Windows.

      In fact, on M1, it is near a nightmare to go backwards. You have to know the tricks, as once you install a beta, your system restoration profile is updated to the beta version as well.

      You have to be extra careful to be prepared before you get in a MacOS Beta on M1. Even clean installing from USB can be an issue. There is still a 'User Account Creation Failed' bug when going beta back to previous, so you have to make sure you have your most current account backed up via Time Machine pre upgrade or use another Mac to restore an IPSW file Apple gives us in the dev channel.

      I grew up on Windows and prefer it for most things, but it's been nice knowing two platforms well for so many years. I've been running Win11 problem free on the custom build I did in 2019 when I upgraded my office PC. I like it. I did move the start menu back to the left, though. I don't like the moving start button. I'd rather left justify it and then have apps in the middle, clock on the right. I think that would look balanced.

      In MacOS, since I'm on a laptop, I hide the dock, but leave it in the center. I use more keyboard commands in MacOS than I do in Windows.

      The grass isn't always greener, but people complain anyway. Just part of a comments section, I suppose.

      • miamimauler

        "It is the same chorus every time and they ultimately upgrade"

        That's because people have no choice once their OS is no longer supported. I would still be on W7 if I had a choice.

        Just because people eventually upgrade doesn't mean they want to.

        • christophercollins

          MacOS doesn't have a choice either, unless you will keep older hardware, which is the same as Windows.

          Tech moves forward and the OS has to move with it. New chips, more cores, new task management required.

          Security REALLY needs to move forward.

          Unless you are going really, and not just say it, move your life to revolve around the Linux ecosystem, you will always have a somewhat newer OS to take advantage of the advances in processing and security.

          We all lose if all of tech stands still for a small number of people.

          • miamimauler

            I don't disagree Christopher. My point is don't assume people upgrade because they want to.

            You didn't address that point at all.

            Just stop making the claim people eventually upgrade because they like the new version. You are being intellectually dishonest when you make that claim.

    • LT1 Z51

      Well I do know many people who skipped releases. Windows Me was skipped by a lot of people (I used it but was a Beta Tester and got it free).

      I never used Vista, or Windows 8 (or 8.1). So it seems like I'm an every other Windows guy. XP ->7 -> 10 -> to who knows. I'm not entierly closed off to Windows 11, but I'll skip the first "version" for sure.

    • hrlngrv

      How many said I'll never upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10? Or never Windows Vista to Windows 7?

      Were there NO reasons to resist upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8?

      Are there no valid reasons to reject change for change's sake?

  4. nbplopes

    The future is not about choice but the illusion of choice.

    “Would you rather study for an hour or study for half an hour and no Internet for the rest of the day??”

  5. LT1 Z51

    Stuff like this is why Microsoft had Anti-Trust issues. Why is this OK? Just use the browser I want.

    • behindmyscreen

      No, stuff like this isn't why they had anti-trust issues. If IE integration were their only problem, they would have probably not had any serious issues. It was how they ran their business with the OEMs that was key to the case.

  6. Username

    Another own goal, Microsoft.

  7. kshsystems

    there is no excuse for making it unnecessarily harder to switch browsers.

    Having said that, if your windows 11 system opens 3rd party web pages with the browser of your choice, but opens widgets or Microsoft store with Edge, it could be said that that has to do with providing pretested and guaranteed functionality for in box apps.

  8. thretosix

    Windows 11 is a crap show. It's like Vista 2.0. I will be using Windows 10 for the foreseeable future. Good luck with the headaches.

  9. bettyblue

    I am never going to Windows 11.

    MY Windows 10 PC is nothing but a VMware workstation box for VM's and I play DCS on it....but the time needed for that game is getting to be too much. If I quit playing it I am going format the drive and put Ubuntu on it and run VMware workstation on top of it. I could probably sell the video card and make some money on it.

  10. anoldamigauser

    This is just a ham-fisted way for Microsoft to increase the usage stats for Edge. That said, is it really any different than Google locking down ChromeOS so that one needs to run the Android version of a different browser, or install Linux to run the browser as a Linux app? Corporations are going to be corporate.

    Personally, I only have one machine that can run Windows 11 and I see no reason to upgrade since it would be an inconsistent experience. I just want to see the "reunion-ized" apps come to Windows 10. I can live without rounded window corners on a rectangular display.

    • ringofvoid

      I'm more open to Android, iOS & ChromeOS locking down browser choice as they are not intended to be general purpose operating systems. Windows, MacOS & Desktop Linux distros are general purpose operating systems and, as such, should allow users to replace any bundled app with their personal choice. Especially after the browser wars & getting the smackdown internationally about browser choice, I expect better behavior than this from Microsoft.

  11. dillspooch

    Do other OS's do this too? iOS, Android, Linux? Is it just a Windows 11 thing?

    • tony_ansley

      I see this happen in IOS all the time. It just seems to use Safari for certain things and others it will use the default browser. Also see this behavior with keyboards in IOS...some situation seem to demand the use of the Apple keyboard and not my default Swiftkey keyboard.

      • ento

        But even when it appears to be another browser, it is actually Safari wrapped up as another browser. This distinction is important because Apple is holding back web standards with Safari, which is causing developers a ton of pain. If they would even allow their users real choice it would really help.

    • captobie

      According to the blog post Paul linked to, the method Microsoft is using was originally developed as a way for third party browsers to bypass Safari on iOS.

    • lvthunder

      I could be wrong about Android, but I think with Android and definitely with iOS they make you use the OS default rendering engine in every browser. So Firefox for example has to use the Safari rendering engine in its browser. So the only thing different is the GUI and whatever they add on top of the browser. So it's even worse if you ask me.

      • ento

        Android allows you to change just about anything, including the browser including the rendering engine. So, you can really fully replace Chrome with Firefox for those that want.

      • train_wreck

        The argument “other people do it too” is pretty weak IMO.

        • mebby

          If it is wrong it should be pointed out. But that is the reason people say “use this other OS” because Windows sucks. Seems like it is good to know what the other OS does.

        • bluvg

          That's such a great point and reminder (here and elsewhere). The iOS model has advantages, but Windows iOS.

      • bluvg

        re: iOS + Safari: exactly. Doesn't seem to produce the same kind of froth (plus it's Apple), granted it's been like that since the beginning.

  12. ghostrider

    Once again, no matter what is said here, many will eventually switch to 11, like it or not, and MS knows this. The chorus's of 'dump Windows' and 'I'm switching to Linux' won't even make a dent in the user base. The truth is, like or loath it, many have grown up with Windows, and it's familiar and humans like familiar. There's a lot to dislike about the direction MS are taking Windows, and we'll grumble and moan, but eventually follow the herd.

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