Thursday, September 04, 2008

How to Set Google Chrome as Your Default Browser in Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows Vista

This post, which shows you how to change your default browser to Google Chrome in Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows Vista, may not initially appear to fall under the marketing category... however, I'll explain further in a minute.

Google Chrome is the new browser from the folks at Google. If you're looking for reviews of the browser, check here: Awesome Google Chrome Review, Summary of Google Chrome Reviews at UK Telegraph (includes TechCrunch, Walt Mossberg, CNET, Gizmodo reviews and more), and Google Chrome Review from PC World.

So, Google Chrome is pretty cool and very fast when compared to other browsers like FireFox and Internet Explorer. I like it, and I wanted to set it as my default browser on a couple of the machines here. 

Here's the correct process for doing this manually on Windows XP, 2000 and Vista (thanks to Mozilla):

Setting default browser manually

You can set the default browser in Windows 2000 (SP3+) Windows XP (SP1+) and Windows Vista using the "Set Program Access and Defaults" feature (renamed "Set Program Access and Computer Defaults" in Windows Vista). [2]

  • Windows 2000: "Start -> Control Panel -> Add or Remove Programs -> Set Program Access and Defaults"
  • Windows XP: "Start -> Control Panel -> Add or Remove Programs -> Set Program Access and Defaults -> Custom"
  • Windows Vista: "Start -> Default Programs -> Set Program Access and Computer Defaults -> Custom" [3]

(Windows XP/Vista: Click the icon to the right of "Custom", to expand the category.)

You will see Internet Explorer and other installed browsers listed under "Choose a default Web browser" . Select "Mozilla" (Suite), "SeaMonkey" or "Mozilla Firefox" (in some cases, "Mozilla Firefox" may not be listed; to add it back, reinstall Firefox [4]).

If the above doesn't work or if the "Set Program Access and Defaults" feature isn't available in your Windows version, you can manually set the default browser by selecting it as the the default program for individual file types and protocols as follows:

  • Windows XP and earlier: Open the Control Panel from the Windows Start menu.
    • In Windows 2000 and earlier, or if Windows XP is using the Control Panel "Classic View": Click on "Folder Options -> File Types".
    • In Windows XP, if using the Control Panel "Category View": Click on "Performance and Maintenance". Then, click on "File Types" in the left column under the heading "See Also".
  • Windows Vista: Click the Start button, open "Default Programs" and then click "Associate a file type or protocol with a program". [5]

Assign the following protocols and file types to the browser you wish to set as default:

  • URL:HyperText Transfer Protocol
  • URL:HyperText Transfer Protocol with Privacy
  • URL:File Transfer Protocol
  • HTML File
  • HTM File (optional)

Note that you may find the URL protocols listed above under extension "N/A" or "(NONE)".


The reason I think it's important for marketers to install and use this new browser are many:
  1. You need to know how your Web pages look in this new browser - If you don't have consistency across all four major browsers (Safari included.. perhaps Opera deserves a mention, too), you're not communicating consistently.
  2. If anything doesn't render correctly you need to fix it ASAP. I surfed to JCrew's site yesterday, and a lot of their images don't render in Chrome, while they do quite nicely in the other browsers.
  3. Users are hopping on the new Chrome browers in huge numbers. They're installing it like mad because of Google's exposure. Again, if your sites don't look good on Google Chrome, you may have a problem on your hands. This applies to things beyond just generic looks, as well... like shopping carts, Java script, widgets, sign up forms, AJAX and so forth. 
Take a look and make sure you're good on Google Chrome.

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