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Quickly Change Your Default Web Browser in Windows From the System Tray

00_lead_image_default_browser_access

Whether you’re a web developer or just an avid internet user, you may need to use multiple browsers. Each browser has useful features that are not available in the other browsers, so, you may need to switch browsers to take advantage of certain features.

You can simply open the desired browser from the desktop or Start menu. However, if you’re opening an HTML file or clicking a link in another program, the browser set as your default browser will open the file or webpage. Normally, to set a browser as the default browser, you must change a setting in that browser.

BrowserTraySwitch is a free utility for all versions of Windows that makes switching your default web browser quick and easy. It sits in the system tray and allows you to change the default browser by selecting one from the BrowserTraySwitch popup menu.

Install BrowserTraySwitch by double-clicking on the .exe file you have downloaded (see the link at the end of the article). Follow the steps in the setup wizard. When you run the program for the first time, the following dialog box displays. BrowserTraySwitch makes changes to the registry to change the default browser, so it creates a backup of the relevant registry settings before making these changes.

01_important_info_dialog

BrowserTraySwitch also creates a registry file for each browser you add to the menu. The first time you run the program, it detects the current default browser and asks you to save the registry file for that browser.

02_reg_config_file

The browser is then added to the program’s menu.

02a_browser_tray_switch_menu

The BrowserTraySwitch icon displays in the system tray as the icon for the current default browser.

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To add a browser to the menu, open the browser and turn on the setting that makes that browser your default browser. As an example, we will add Google Chrome to the BrowserTraySwitch menu.

04_launching_chrome

In Chrome, select Settings from the menu in the upper, left corner of the window.

05_selecting_settings_in_chrome

On the Settings tab that displays, click the Make Google Chrome my default browser button under Default browser.

06_make_chrome_default_browser

If the User Account Control dialog box displays, click Yes to continue.

NOTE: You may not see this dialog box, depending on your User Account Control settings.

07_uac_dialog_for_chrome_default

The following dialog box displays from BrowserTraySwitch asking you to save the registry file for the browser you just made your default browser. Click Save.

08_detected_new_default_browser

Once you save the registry file, the BrowserTraySwitch menu pops up and the newly added browser is automatically selected as the default browser.

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Depending on the settings, the browser may ask you if you want to make that browser the default browser when you open the program. For example, when we opened Opera, we were asked and said Yes. Opera was then added to our BrowserTraySwitch menu.

10_browser_asking_about_default

The names for the browsers on the menu are determined by the file names for the registry files. You can change that to customize your list. For example, we decided we didn’t want FIREFOX displaying in all caps. To change the name of a registry file, right-click on the BrowserTraySwitch icon and select Manage browser config files from the menu.

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The folder containing the registry files opens in Windows Explorer. Change the names of the .btsregfile files as desired. Close the Explorer window when you are done.

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You do not have to restart BrowserTraySwitch for the changes to take effect. The next time you open the menu, the newly named menu items display.

NOTE: You can also change a menu item’s name by selecting Save current default browser as from the menu to resave the registry file for that browser. However, once you save the file with a new name, you will have two files for that browser and both will display on the menu until you delete one.

13_save_current_default_browser_as

You can remove browsers from the menu simply by selecting Manage browser config files from the menu again and deleting the registry file for the browser you want to remove.

Download BrowserTraySwitch from http://www.donationcoder.com/Software/Mouser/browsertray/index.html.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 03/8/13

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