Default Browser Setting, Where Art Thou?
June 2, 2014 9:15 AM   Subscribe

I've decided to switch over completely to Google Chrome, and on my work laptop it's NBD. My home laptop, however, asks me EVERY DAMN TIME I START CHROME if I want to make it my default browser; clicking OK does nothing (Firefox is still the default). More inside...

Firefox is not set to ask to be my default, and isn't necessarily run in the meantime. If I use Windows 7's Control Panel setting to set the Default Program, it only offers choices of IE or FF - even though Chrome & Opera are installed.

So, I head to the web, and find the registry keys that (supposedly) determine this default. I build a batch file, and set them = "C:\pathname\Chrome.exe":
... and check to make sure they changed.

No difference.

Any clues?
posted by IAmBroom to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
Not (and never will be) a windows 7 user but have you tried this?
posted by epo at 9:21 AM on June 2, 2014

Response by poster: Yes, but thanks.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:30 AM on June 2, 2014

Have you tried running Chrome as an administrator? Right click on the Chrome icon in the taskbar then right click on the "Google Chrome" menu item and select "Run as adminstrator".

My guess is that there's a bug in Chrome where it's trying to set itself as default but it doesn't realize that needs to elevate to do so.
posted by zixyer at 9:32 AM on June 2, 2014

Best answer: My guess is that Chrome is installed inside your user profile instead of under Program Files, which is what you get if the installer isn't run elevated. Try uninstalling Chrome, then either use Run As Administrator on the Chrome setup program or use the Chrome For Business MSI installation package.

Once that's done, right-click a Chrome shortcut, do Open File Location, and verify that the executable is now in a subfolder of C:\Program Files or C:\Program Files (x86).

Messing directly with the Registry to set the default browser is actually surprisingly hard to get right, at least partly because successive browser versions tend to have differing opinions about what their own entries should look like and will stomp anything that looks nonstandard. Far, far easier to persuade Chrome to do it properly itself.

You might need to set some other browser as the default to wipe out the mess you've already made of those registry keys, then set Chrome as default again. If you do that from a Chrome instance you've Run As Administrator, it should set Chrome as a system-wide default; do it without elevation and it should affect only your own user account.
posted by flabdablet at 10:42 AM on June 2, 2014

Response by poster: Have you tried running Chrome as an administrator?


flabdablet: I'll give your idea a try tonight.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:30 PM on June 2, 2014

Response by poster: OK, I went hardcore: uninstalled FF, discovered that Chrome doesn't exist according to Control Panel > Programs (which might be related), reinstalled Chrome, asked it to be Default when installing - which failed, and got the same message box.

But this time, when I checked it, closed and restarted Chrome, it took.

Looks like something went wrong during the first install.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:56 PM on June 2, 2014

Best answer: discovered that Chrome doesn't exist according to Control Panel > Programs

This is the typical result of running the Chrome installer without elevation, because as well as elevation being required for write access to Program Files, it's also required for write access to the registry keys that Control Panel -> Programs looks at.

Using Run As Administrator on the standard Chrome installer (often tricky to find, because it's typically downloaded into a Temp folder in an attempt to hide the too-complicated idea of an "installer" from the unwashed masses), or using the "business" MSI instead, will get you a Chrome installation that Windows knows what to do with.

Incidentally, so will installing Chrome via which is hands-down the least-fuss way to install any of the software that you can install that way.

Looks like something went wrong during the first install.

Probably some funky business with Windows failing to come to a sensible conclusion about whether it should consider HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Classes or HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes to be the authoritative source for the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT keys concerned. Uninstalling Firefox would have scrapped the HKLM entries.
posted by flabdablet at 8:54 PM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, flabdablet - and I only think of Ninite for installing multiple programs. In the future, I'll consider it for single installs, I guess.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:27 AM on June 3, 2014

A wrinkle I've found that makes the free version of Ninite more convenient is bookmarking the "change apps" link that turns up on the download page for the generated installer. That link takes you to the main Ninite page with all the applications you selected last time preselected, so you can just add another application or two to your existing set without needing to remember all the things.

That link is also easy to generate programatically because the format is really simple e.g.

If you're going to use Ninite to install Dropbox, you'll still get a per-profile Dropbox installation by default. Here's a script I wrote to install Dropbox system-wide: put it in the same folder as the Dropbox offline installer and launch it via Run As Administrator.

Recent versions of the Dropbox installer include a pop-up warning, even when the /S switch is used for a silent install, about installations not working properly if the installer is run as an administrator. If you see that while using my script, it's safe to dismiss and ignore it.

Having done a system-wide Dropbox install, Ninite will keep it updated correctly.
posted by flabdablet at 12:35 AM on June 5, 2014

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