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"Internet Explorer should check to see whether it is the default browser" - option does not work

Published: July 09, 2004
Updated : June 28, 2005
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Introduction

If you have used a third-party browser and want to switch back to Internet Explorer as the default browser, you use the "Internet Explorer should check to see whether it is the default browser" option in the Internet Options, Programs tab.  More information...

Note: For XP SP1 and above, you can use the Set Program Access and defaults feature in Control Panel - Add/Remove Programs applet, and set Internet Explorer as the default. This is the easiest method.

Why doesn't the "Internet Explorer should check to see whether it is the default browser" - option work ? My observation below:

In many situations, Internet Explorer does not prompt the default browser check. Ever wondered why it does not honor the setting (?)

This is for advanced users, and an informational note

Anyways, here is a procedure which makes Internet Explorer prompt for the default browser check upon next start.

  • Open regedit.exe and navigate to:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT \ http \ shell \ open \ command

  • Backup the key by exporting it to a REG file
  • In the right-pane, replace the existing (default) value to the text "something.exe"
  • Close Regedit
  • Restart Windows (otherwise the method may not work)
  • After restarting, open Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer will remind itself that it's not the default browser and prompts the user to set it as default, with the following message:

Internet Explorer is not currently your default browser. Would you like to make it your default browser?
[-/] Always perform this check when starting Internet Explorer.

Click Yes, and Internet Explorer will fix most of it's associations in the registry and sets itself as default.

Note

The above method worked well in all the systems I tested with. However, one user reported that this setting did not invoke the default browser check, even after reboot. If so, please undo the above procedure to reinstate the correct entry.

More Information on the above method

Why did I set an incorrect value (something.exe), rather than setting it to "iexplore.exe" ?

Internet Explorer checks the registry value HKCR\http\shell\open\command 's (default) action at startup. If the option "Internet Explorer should check to see whether it is the default browser" is enabled AND if the (default) command is set to anything other other than the string iexplore.exe, then only IE invokes the default browser check. Otherwise, Internet Explorer ignores the "default browser" check. This is what I've observed.

Some browsers do not modify the HKCR\http\shell\open\command key/value. But, they create an additional entry under Shell and sets it as the default action.

Example

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\http\shell]
(default) set to OpenWithMyBrowser

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\http\shell\OpenWithMyBrowser\command]
(default) set to "MyBrowser.exe"

In the above example, http\shell\open command is never modified, so Internet Explorer ignores the Internet Explorer should check to see whether it is the default browser option.

Hope this clarifies.