With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, you choose between Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge for opening Cortana web search results. As stated in the linked article, I found a couple of ways (using script) to make Cortana web search results use your default web browser such as Google Chrome or Firefox, and use Google search engine instead of Bing.
Table of Contents
- Open Cortana search using Internet Explorer or Edge
- Open Cortana search in your “default” browser by setting “Debugger”
- Open Cortana search in your “default” browser using microsoft-edge: Protocol
Since April, Microsoft decided to hard-code Cortana to use Edge for opening search results pages. But, with the Anniversary Update released in August, you can now use Internet Explorer to open Cortana search results. This is done by enabling “Optimize taskbar web search results for screen readers” in Microsoft Edge – Advanced settings.
Ok. I know all that. How do i make Cortana use my default browser (for example, Google Chrome or Firefox) and redirect to Google search instead of Bing?
Open Cortana Web Search Results Using Default Browser and Google Search
So you don’t want to use the personalized and integrated search experience in Windows 10, provided by Cortana, Bing and Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer?
There are 3rd party tools to intercept clicks to Cortana web search results, and redirect them to Google Chrome or whatever your default browser is. I’ve not personally tested those tools, but I found a couple of effective methods that use VBScript instead.
This method works only if you have the Windows 10 Anniversary Update v1607 or higher build installed, and have administrator privileges to initially apply the REG file.
1. Download cortana_default_browser.zip, unzip and extract the contents to a folder.
2. Double-click “cortana_default_browser.reg” to run it.
3. Move the file “cortana_default_browser.vbs” to your Windows directory. Click “Continue” when when Windows says Access is Denied to copy or move the file into the Windows directory.
4. Enable “Optimize taskbar web search results…” setting in Microsoft Edge. Without enabling that option, the script doesn’t run.
You’re done. Clicking on web search results in Cortana should launch your default browser now.
I have Google Chrome set as the default browser, and search results open in Chrome, and uses Google search instead of Bing.
Sets the “debugger” for Internet Explorer
This method uses the setting “Optimize taskbar web search results for screen readers” (enable) in Edge, and then redirects Internet Explorer by attaching a custom VBScript as the “Debugger” for iexplore.exe process.
So, when you click on a web search result in Cortana or launch Internet Explorer directly, the “debugger” script runs instead of Internet Explorer.
Reads the Search URL string passed, and changes it
Then, the VBScript gets the search URL argument which was originally passed by Cortana, and replaces “bing.com” to “google.com” in the search URL string. It then drops the optional search parameters, as those extra parameters would be meaningless when used with a different search engine, such as Google, Yahoo! or DuckDuckGo.
For example, Cortana web search results uses certain additional search URL strings as below, which only Bing.com can understand.
The script truncates the URL by eliminating the optional query strings, and changes “bing” to “google”. So, the new search URL would be:
'Make Cortana Use Default Browser and Google Search to open search results 'Created by Ramesh Srinivasan for Winhelponline.com 'Note that Outlook seems to spawn iexplorer.exe process(es) everytime it's launched. 'The first line in the Vbscript code prevents Outlook from launching the vbscript everytime. 'Thanks to David (dreamcraftdigital.com) for the following line: If wscript.arguments(1) = "-startmanager" then Wscript.Quit If wscript.arguments.count <2 then Wscript.Quit Set WshShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell") sBingURL = Split (wscript.arguments(1), "&") WshShell.run Replace (sBingURL(0), "bing", "google")
Contents of the REG file
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options\iexplore.exe] "Debugger"="wscript.exe C:\\Windows\\cortana_default_browser.vbs" [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\AppContainer\Storage\microsoft.microsoftedge_8wekyb3d8bbwe\MicrosoftEdge\Main] "OptimizeWindowsSearchResultsForScreenReaders"=dword:00000001
Downside of the method is that you’ll not be able to use Internet Explorer. In order to be able to use Internet Explorer again, you need to remove the
debugger registry value which the enclosed
undo.reg file does it for you automatically.
This method would be ideal for you if you only use Internet Explorer occasionally, or never use it at all.
This method works in Windows 10 v1511 (November ’15 Update), v1607 (Anniversary Update) and in higher builds. However, if you’re using Windows 10 v1607 and higher, make sure to turn off the
Optimize taskbar web search results for screen readers option in Microsoft Edge. See
figure 1 in this post. You need administrator privileges to initially apply the REG file.
Turning off that option would cause
microsoft-edge: protocol to be used when clicking Cortana web search results. So, by associating a custom script with
microsoft-edge: URL protocol, you can redirect the results to your default browser, and use Google search engine if preferred. The REG file works if you have Chrome or Firefox installed. Including support for additional browsers is easily done by editing the REG file.
1. Download cortana_default_browser_2.zip, unzip and extract the contents to a folder.
cortana_default_browser_2.reg to run it.
3. Move the file
cortana_default_browser_2.vbs to your Windows directory.
4. Open Start, Settings, Default Apps. Choose a different web browser from the list. Then revert back to the original browser by setting it as the default. By doing this the
microsoft-edge: URL Protocol association is set.
5. Type a search phrase in Cortana box and click on a web search result. The following “How do you want to open this?” dialog would appear for the first time.
6. Select “Microsoft Windows Based Script Host”, enable “Always use this app” option and click OK.
That’s it! Cortana results would be redirected to your default browser, and uses Google search engine instead of Bing.
Contents of the Script file 2
'Make Cortana Use Default Browser and Google Search to open search results 'Created by Ramesh Srinivasan for Winhelponline.com If wscript.arguments.count = 0 then Wscript.Quit Set WshShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell") sBingURL = Split (wscript.arguments(0), "&") sBingURL(0) = Replace (sBingURL(0), "bing", "google") sBingURL(0) = Replace (sBingURL(0), "microsoft-edge:", "") WshShell.run sBingURL(0)
This is almost similar to the first script (in Method 1), but with a slight variation.
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Clients\StartMenuInternet\Google Chrome\Capabilities\URLAssociations] "microsoft-edge"="CortanaSearch" [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Clients\StartMenuInternet\FIREFOX.EXE\Capabilities\URLAssociations] "microsoft-edge"="CortanaSearch" [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CortanaSearch\shell\open\command] @="wscript.exe c:\\windows\\cortana_default_browser_2.vbs %1"
That’s it! You’ve made Cortana to use your default web browser (instead of Edge), and use Google search engine instead of Bing.
Hope you liked these script tweaks. Let’s know your comments.
About the author
Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.