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Make Chrome default browser (Windows 10)

As an administrator, you may need to configure Chrome as the default browser on computers in your domain. You must complete these steps to set Chrome as the default browser on domain-joined computers running Microsoft Windows 10 and above.

On Windows 10 and above

Step 1: Create a default application association XML file (sampled provided)

The default application association file is an XML file that associates a file type with an application. For example, if you associate .html or .htm files with the Chrome application, then by default Chrome is launched each time the user opens a html or htm file.

For domain-joined computers, you create a single shared XML file that automatically sets Chrome as the default browser application. You must place this file in a shared folder, on your server, that all of the domain-joined computers can access.

Note: If Chrome is not installed on the target computer, the file associations are not applied and users must choose an application when they open a link (http or https) or file (html or htm).

Download the default application association file

It is possible to have various Chrome channels installed side-by-side in Windows. Below are example xml files showing how to set a specific Chrome channel as the default browser to open html, htm, http and https files or links.

Chrome Stable example (chromedefault.xml):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
  <Association Identifier=".htm" ProgId="ChromeHTML" ApplicationName="Google Chrome" />
  <Association Identifier=".html" ProgId="ChromeHTML" ApplicationName="Google Chrome" />
  <Association Identifier="http" ProgId="ChromeHTML" ApplicationName="Google Chrome" />
  <Association Identifier="https" ProgId="ChromeHTML" ApplicationName="Google Chrome" />

Chrome Beta example ( chromedefault.xml):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
  <Association Identifier=".htm" ProgId="ChromeBHTML" ApplicationName="Google Chrome Beta" />
  <Association Identifier=".html" ProgId="ChromeBHTML" ApplicationName="Google Chrome Beta" />
  <Association Identifier="http" ProgId="ChromeBHTML" ApplicationName="Google Chrome Beta" />
  <Association Identifier="https" ProgId="ChromeBHTML" ApplicationName="Google Chrome Beta" />

Chrome Dev example ( chromedefault.xml):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
  <Association Identifier=".htm" ProgId="ChromeDHTML" ApplicationName="Google Chrome Dev" /> 
  <Association Identifier=".html" ProgId="ChromeDHTML" ApplicationName="Google Chrome Dev" />
  <Association Identifier="http" ProgId="ChromeDHTML" ApplicationName="Google Chrome Dev" />
  <Association Identifier="https" ProgId="ChromeDHTML" ApplicationName="Google Chrome Dev" />  

Note: The default association policy is set at each login. The user can change an association after they login, but the change applies to that login session only. The association will be reset to the policy at the next login.

Step 2: Create a Group Policy Object

The Group Policy Management console lets you create and manage Group Policy Objects (GPO) for your domain. These GPOs control the policies that are applied to all your domain-linked computers. After you create the GPO, you use security filtering to apply it to the computers in your domain.

In the following example, you create a GPO (Set Chrome as default browser) and apply it to computers in the domain.

  1. Open the Group Policy Management Console. Go to Start > All programs > Administrative Tools > Group Policy Management.
  2. In the navigation pane, go to Group Policy Management > Domains.
  3. In the navigation pane, right-click on the domain, and click Create a GPO in this domain, and Link it here...
  4. Type the name of the new GPO (in our example, the name is Set Chrome as default browser) and click OK.

  5. In the navigation pane, go to Group Policy Management > Domains > > Group Policy Objects and select Set Chrome as default browser.

  6. In the Security Filtering pane, click Add.
  7. In the Select User, Computer, or Group window, type the name of the object you want to add, click Check Names (to verify the name you entered), and click OK.

    You can type Domain Computers to add all workstations and servers joined to this domain (as in the example below) or you can specify a different group of computers.

  8. The GPO now applies to all domain-linked computers.

Step 3: Set a default associations configuration file

To set the default associations configuration file for domain-linked computers, you edit the related GPO on your windows server.

  1. Open the Group Policy Management Console.

    Go to Start > All programs > Administrative Tools > Group Policy Management.

  2. In the navigation pane, click Group Policy Management > Domains >
  3. Click the Linked Group Policy Objects tab to view all GPOs for this domain.
  4. Right-click on the GPO you want to select, and click Edit to open the Group Policy Management Editor.

    In this example, right-click on Set Chrome as default browser.

  5. In the Group Policy Management Editor, go to Computer Configuration > Policies > Administrative Template > Windows Components > File Explorer, and double-click Set a default associations configuration file.

  6. In the Set a default associations configuration file window, select the Enabled option.

  7. In the Options box, enter the location of your default application association XML file.

    This is the XML file that associates file types (such as .htm, .html, http, and https) with the Chrome application. This can be the Google provided sample XML file or one you created yourself.

Note: The file can’t be a local file on the server. It must be at a location that is accessible to every computer in the domain.

Step 4: Verify your configuration

On your target computers (that is, the Active Directory domain-joined computers running Windows 10), you can verify that the GPO you created has been applied, and that the computer is using Chrome as the default browser.

The GPO is applied automatically when the policy is refreshed by the Windows Client, or you can run the GPUpdate.exe /force command to force a manual refresh at any time.

Note: After the policy is downloaded and applied, the computer must be rebooted in order for the policy to take effect.

  1. On a Windows Client, go to Windows > System32. Right-click rsop.msc and select run as administrator.
  2. Authenticate with administrator credentials and click Yes.
  3. Go to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer to confirm that Set a default associations configuration file is available.

  4. Open the Set a default associations configuration file to confirm that the setting is enabled and that the XML file location is correct.

  5. When Chrome is set as the default browser, then all files with htm and html extensions use the Chrome icon.

Related topics

More details from Microsoft TechNet:

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