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How to Change the Default Web Browser on Your Mac

Posted by Jim Tanous on August 25, 2016

When it comes to Web browsers, things weren’t always so great for Apple’s desktop operating system. But since the launch of Mac OS X Panther in October 2003, Apple has included Safari as the default Web browser for the Mac. Since then, Apple has developed Safari into a powerful and capable browser that plays nice with the company’s other products. But there are many other fine Mac browsers on the market, such as Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
Users are free to download and run any of these browsers alongside Safari but, without action from the user, Safari will remain the default browser in the operating system, meaning that all outside actions which require a Web browser (e.g., clicking a URL in an email, opening a Web location shortcut on your desktop, or opening an online media stream sent via iMessage) will launch Safari instead of your third party browser of choice. Thankfully, you can fix this issue by setting a browser other than Safari as the default for your user account. Here’s how to do it.

Change the Default Web Browser in macOS

To change your Mac’s default Web browser, first log into your user account and launch System Preferences. When the System Preferences window appears, click on General.
mac system preferences general
In the General preference pane, you’ll see an option labeled Default web browser. By default, this will be set to Safari. Click on the drop-down menu to see a list of installed browsers.
mac default web browser
If you have multiple versions of a browser installed, they will be listed individually followed by their version number. Also note that applications which can open Web resources, such as media players or virtualization apps, will also be displayed. Be careful with these, however, as they often have limitations which make them unsuitable for the typical Mac user’s default browser.
mac change default web browser
Just click on your Web browser of choice to make it the default selection. The change will be made as soon as you select a browser from the list; there’s no need to log out or reboot in order to save the change.
To test your new default Web browser, close System Preferences and open a Web resource, such as a URL, from a non-browser location. For example, you could click on a link someone sent you in Mail, or simply type a URL, such as www.tekrevue.com into a new rich text TextEdit document. When you click the URL, macOS should launch your new default Web browser instead of Safari.
Making this change doesn’t remove Safari, of course. Apple’s browser will remain available to launch and use manually when needed. If you ever want to revert your default browser back to Safari, or change to another third party browser in the future, simply return to System Preferences > General and make the appropriate change in the drop-down menu.

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