How to Stop Windows Links From Opening Edge and Bing – Make Tech Easier


As a Windows user, you may have noticed that the OS opens certain links in Microsoft Edge and Bing – even if you change the default settings. This is sadly not a glitch – Microsoft always opens links from certain built-in Windows features (Search, News, Widgets, and Weather) in Edge. Read on to learn how to force Windows to open your actual default browser and search engine.

New to widgets in Windows 11? Give them a try and see how useful they can really be.

Why Does It Matter?

Microsoft has removed any official way to change the browser and search engine used by the features mentioned above, so looking in the settings or registry won’t help. By eliminating user choice and pushing its own services, Microsoft is making the user experience for Windows worse in the name of profit. This is a step in the wrong direction for big tech software, leading us to a future where companies like Microsoft get to decide what you install and do on your own computer.

Besides this, there are also real disadvantages at play:

  • Your browser search history gets split with Edge, making it harder to find things you searched for and making auto-complete less useful.
  • You don’t get to use your chosen browser’s features and extensions, like an adblocker, and have to install them separately on Edge.
  • You may get worse web search results from Bing.
  • You may sacrifice your privacy by not being allowed to use free/non-profit services.

The best solution to get links open in other browsers is called MSEdgeRedirect, which is a Windows utility that is free to install and use. Alternatively, you can also opt for OpenWebSearch, which is a command line-only solution.

Note: Edge Deflector and Search Deflector are popular options that have stopped working since late 2021. If you see any articles or tutorials mention these two programs, they are outdated.

Prevent Windows Links from Opening in Microsoft Edge With MSEdgeRedirect

Note: before trying out the new redirections capabilities, make sure you’ve set a new default browser in Windows.

Downloading and installing the MSEdgeRedirect .EXE file is easy, but it might cause your browser or computer to complain about an unsafe file.

  1. Download the executable file from the program’s GitHub page.
  2. Click through any dialog boxes to allow the download.
  1. If you want to disable OpenWebSearch, simply repeat step #3.

There are some minor downsides to this solution. One is the lack of customizability. You cannot change anything unless you go into the code. There is no settings UI to easily check some boxes. Another is that there is no easy way to toggle it on and off – you would have to enter a command in the Terminal and accept the User Account control each time.

Finally, there is no automatic update function, so you’d have to manually download the “OpenWebSearch.cmd” file from GitHub again when a new version comes out. For these reasons, MSEdgeRedirect is better overall.

Finally had enough of Microsoft Edge? Find something new in our list of lightweight Windows browsers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I just remove Edge from Windows entirely?

While there are tools to remove Microsoft’s built-in browser from Windows, this is not a foolproof method. There is no guarantee that Microsoft won’t bring it back again in the next Windows update.

In addition, Windows will insist you use Microsoft Edge to a fault, even if you purge all traces of Microsoft Edge. Windows will open an empty UWP window and show an error message instead of letting you use your preferred web browser.

Is MSEdgeRedirect.exe safe to install on my PC?

The program is safe if downloaded from its official page on GitHub. All MSEdgeRedirect.exe source code is publicly visible on the GitHub page, where you can also see it has 1,800 “stars” at the time of writing, which is a good sign that the program is recognized as trustworthy by the developer community.

Why did Edge Deflector stop working?

Since a 2021 update (Windows 11 Build 22494), Edge Deflector no longer works as a solution for preventing Windows from opening Edge.

The reason? Originally, Windows would use a special link format, “microsoft-edge://” in internal features (like Windows Search), that could only be opened by Edge. Edge Deflector would redirect the “microsoft-edge://” link to an “https://” link that would be opened by the default browser. But in the 22494 update, Microsoft has hardcoded Windows, making it impossible for any third-party app to handle the “microsoft-edge://” link, even going so far as ignoring registry changes to that effect.

Image credit: Pexels. All screenshots by Brandon Li.

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