Windows Vista Tutorial

Set Firefox as default web browser

Firefox as the default browser in Windows Vista The "default web browser" is the program is the program that automatically opens web pages and websites, when you type a URL (internet address) from the Run prompt or click an internet link, etc. The default browser displays websites and sometimes even the "FTP sites" (remote file servers that allow viewing, uploading, and/or downloading files). Windows Vista ships with a single browser, Internet Explorer, bundled. But you can download and install alternate browser's like Mozilla Firefox. This tutorial shows you how to set Firefox as the default web browser on Windows Vista.


Setting Windows Vista's default web browser

Open the Control Panel in Windows Vista To manage your default browser and programs in Windows Vista, open the Start Menu, and click Control Panel.

The Control Panel's welcome screen displays a series of subtitles and links: locate the Programs section, and click the Programs header-link itself:

Configure programs options and settings in Windows Vista

Customize default programs and default applications The Control Panel's Programs screen displays several header-links and links; under the Default Programs header, click the Set your default programs link.

This loads the Set your default programs screen, and show a listing of the most common types of programs candidate for default application.

Based on the number of applications you have installed on your computer, the listing of programs may take a while to completely load.

If you are using the Classic Start Menu in Windows Vista, you can access the Default Program window directly by going to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Default Programs.

Default applications listing

Locate Firefox in the list of candidates for default browser, and select it. Firefox's information loads in the right pane, and displays the Firefox logo, as well as a program description:

Choose Firefox as your default web browser

Windows Vista shows you that "[Firefox] has X out of 9 defaults": in other words, Firefox can at most 9 different actions or protocols associated with it, and Firefox is at the moment the default handler application for "x" of these extensions/protocols. To make Firefox the default handler for all extensions and protocols it can handle, click on the Set this program as default button.

Select default extensions and protocols for Mozilla Firefox

Select the defaults for Firefox in Windows Vista To make Mozilla Firefox the default browser for select extensions and protocols only, click Choose defaults for this program, and the Set associations for a program screen will load.

Windows Vista lists under Extensions the types of files opened by the default web browser: ".php", ".phpl", ".mhtml" (common extensions for "HTML" files), as ".mht" (saved web archives) and finally ".url" files (internet shortcuts).

Below Protocols, Windows Vista lists the three protocols used to open regular web pages ("HTTP"), the protocol for encrypted (secure) browsing ("HTTPS", the padlock icon in the status bar), and "FTP", a protocol most people never use (to navigate remote file servers, upload and download files).

Pin Firefox as the "Internet" program in the Start Menu

Last, Windows Vista mentions a "Start Menu" entry: if checked, this means that Firefox will be displayed as pinned program in the Start Menu, along with your default email application. (Note that this option does not apply to Vista's "classic" Start Menu.)

If you clicked "Set this program as default" earlier on, Windows Vista registered Mozilla Firefox as the default application for these nine options. In other words, ticking all checkboxes and making IE as the default program for them yields the exact same result as setting Firefox as the default program for all it can handle.

Testing your default browser: is it Mozilla Firefox?

Firefox as Windows Vista's default browser You can very quickly check if Firefox was successfully set as Windows Vista's default web browser by going to the Start Menu, and clicking Run: in the prompt that opens, type an internet address (like "") and hit Enter. If Firefox is indeed Vista's default browser, you will have Firefox with the Mozilla Corporation's homepage loaded right in front of you.

To learn how to make Mozilla Firefox the default web browser in other versions of Windows, please see the following tutorial: Set Firefox as default browser, which covers the change of default browser Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

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