Firefox's Default Browser Setting

Album Cover: Crash

"You wear nothing, but you wear it so well."
Dave Matthews Band / Crash Into Me

Posted on February 23, 2004 7:55 PM in Browsers
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

I think one of the most annoying bugs in Firefox is the inability to set it as your default browser without affecting other users on the same Windows machine. I've run into this in the past, but I was still using Internet Explorer rather frequently, so it didn't seem like a big issue. However, now that I am using Firefox almost exclusively, the annoyance level has climbed quite dramatically.

The reason this poses a problem is simple – my girlfriend still uses Internet Explorer. Now, she doesn't use it because she thinks it's better than Firefox or anything like that. It's just what she's used to, and I haven't taken the time to walk her through all the benefits of using Firefox instead. All that aside, it seems more than reasonable that I should be able to set Firefox as the default browser under my Windows XP account, and still let her use Internet Explorer as her default on her account.

As it turns out, though, this is not currently possible (or, at least, as far as I can tell). Whenever I set Firefox as my default, the next time she logs in and clicks a URL in an email, or wherever it might be, Firefox pops up as her default.

Being the responsible Firefox user that I am, I quickly searched Bugzilla for any preexisting bugs on the matter, and having found none, submitted my own.

Hopefully the ability to set Firefox as the default on a per-account basis will show up in version 0.9, because I am itching to make Firefox the default and put the days of using Internet Explorer behind me.


Arcanius on February 28, 2004 at 3:46 AM:

I don't think this is a Firefox bug, I think it is a Windows XP bug - or feature - or omission, or whatever you want to call it.

To see if my theory is correct, change teh default browser back to IE under your girlfriend's account. If your default browser chagnes as well, then rest assured that it is Microsoft's problem, and not Firefox's. Of course, the best solution is to convince her to use Firefox...


Bernie on February 28, 2004 at 4:27 PM:

Unfortunately, I think you're right, Arcanius. As I reported in Bugzilla, there was apparently some method that could be used by going to XP's Set Program Access and Defaults, but every combination I tried failed to do what I wanted it to. I've still been unable to use Firefox as my default without making it the default on my girlfriend's account as well.

The main reason my girlfriend's using my computer anyway is that her iBook stopped working a few months back. My plan is to take it in and get it fixed, install OS X on it (it had OS 9 before it quit on her) and either get her using Firefox or Safari on there. That should solve my problem and make her an even happier web surfer all at the same time, so it's like killing two stones with one bird...or something like that.


Colin on August 02, 2004 at 11:39 PM:

have you found a solution to the problem yet? i have that exact same problem with my wife. some of the pages she goes to do not work properly in firefox, so she has to set the default to ie because the page is from a link in a message, so she just clicks it. and I want to keep mozilla as my default.


Simon Marchese on June 13, 2005 at 12:31 PM:

I had the same situation, searched a bit and found "DefaultBrowser". First, run it once as youself, the mighty Admin, and then run it again as your limited user girlfriend (that's a technical term) and choose a different browser each time! Splendid!


K on May 12, 2006 at 8:34 AM:

DefaultBrowser allows you set the default web browser for your user profile in Windows XP, without affecting the other users. Note that the user interface in Windows XP does not provide an option for setting the default browser for each user. The browsers you see in the Preset Configuration are tested and working flawlessly as user defaults.

For use with Windows® XP only.

If you want more help and tips, visit


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