Windows 11 Will Give You More Control Over Default Apps

Windows 11 logo

Managing your preferred default application for web browsing, playing videos, or other tasks can be difficult on Windows, especially when Windows itself keeps resetting your options. That might be less of a problem in the future.

There are a few ways that Windows applications can set themselves as the default application for certain links or files, and add themselves to the taskbar. The process can be confusing, especially when some applications try to set themselves as the default without your knowledge, and when Windows tends to reset the defaults after updating. Windows also overrides some web actions to always open in Microsoft Edge (such as clicking links in the taskbar web search), instead of the current default web browser.

Microsoft is promising to fix some of the confusing behavior with default apps in a new blog post. The company said, “We want to ensure that people are in control of what gets pinned to their Desktop, their Start menu and their Taskbar as well as to be able to control their default applications such as their default browser through consistent, clear and trustworthy Windows provided system dialogs and settings.”

Default apps page in Windows 11

Microsoft is working on a new deep link URI for applications that takes people directly to the defualt apps settings page in Windows 11. For example, if Firefox asks to be the default web browser and you accept, the browser can take you to the Settings page where the default browser can be changed. Windows 11 will also allow apps to pin primary or secondary tiles to the taskbar with a new API, which will show a warning with Accept or Decline buttons.

The Windows team plans to “take steps to mitigate unrequested modifications to a user’s choices […] later this year after application developers have had time to incorporate these new best practices.” That sounds like it means Windows 11 will eventually block applications from changing the default settings through existing methods, once the new APIs are available and apps have adopted them, but plans could still change there. Microsoft is also promising to switch Edge to the new pinning and default features once they are available. 11 pinning request

It seems like Microsoft is making default apps and taskbar pins more like their equivalents on Android and iPhone devices, where apps can’t silently change your settings without asking. For example, if an app wants to be the default browser on Android or iPhone, it can only open the page in the system Settings app for you to make the change yourself.

The new functionality will be tested in the Windows Insider Dev Channel “in the coming months.”

Source: Windows Blog

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