Change the Default Web Browser in Mac OS X

Apr 6, 2007 - 17 Comments

Safari icon Updated: 10/20/2014 Ever wondered how to change the default web browser app on your Mac? Maybe you prefer Chrome to Safari, or maybe you want to use Firefox instead of Safari, or vice versa? Whatever your choice, it’s easy to do in OS X Yosemite and new versions, and older versions of OS X too. This is not an unusual question, in fact, one of our readers Sarah R. writes in wondering about her Macs default web browser set in OS X:

“I downloaded Firefox and accidentally clicked the button for it to be set as my default web browser. Now every time I open a link it goes into Firefox instead of Safari. How do I get back to Safari as my default? Help!”

Don’t worry Sarah (and everyone else!), this isn’t the first time we’ve been asked about changing the default web browser on the Mac, so allow us to explain the remarkably simple answer – you’ll be changed back to whatever web browser you want in no time at all, whether it’s Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or any other.


Do note that making this change will impact all links opened throughout apps in Mac OS X, as all will be redirected to whatever browsing app is set as the default.

Changing the Default Web Browser in OS X Yosemite (10.10) or Later

Apple moved the default web browser setting in Yosemite onward to the System Preferences:

  1. Open the  Apple menu and choose ‘System Preferences’, then go to ‘General’
  2. Click the menu next to “Default web browser” and set your choice from the list (note that you must have at least one other third party web browser downloaded in order to see more than a single option in this list. Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc, will all show up here)

Change the default web browser in OS X Yosemite

How to Change the Default Web Browser in Mac OS X

Changing the default web browser in prior versions of Mac OS X is also very easy, but regardless of what browser you want to use as default, you adjust the setting through Apple’s web browser, Safari. This is true for OS X Mavericks 10.9, Mountain Lion 10.8, Lion, Snow Leopard, and earlier. Here’s the steps:

  • Open Safari (yes, open Safari even if you want to use another app as your default browser)
  • Pull down the ‘Safari’ menu and choose to open ‘Preferences’ (or just hit command-,)
  • Click the ‘General’ tab
  • Choose the default web browser you would prefer to use
  • Quit Safari, and you’re done.

This is what the Preference for default web browser selection looks like on all modern versions of the Mac, just pull down that menu to choose your browser to set as the default:

Change the default web browser in Mac OS X

Here’s what the setting looks like in older versions of OS X:

Default web browser in Mac OS X

Yes, you use Safari to change the default browser, even if you have no intention on using Safari as the default and instead want to switch the default to Chrome, Firefox, or whatever else.

This process is identical and works for setting the default to Chrome, Firefox, Chromium, Opera, Safari, and just about any other native browser in Mac OS X. Another thing to keep in mind is that most browsers will ask you, often repeatedly on each launch, if you want to set them as the default for the web. Choosing those options within those apps will make the modification for you automatically, though to change it manually at any point you would need to return back to Safari’s Preferences.

Setting the Default Browser via the Browsing Apps

Safari is used to change the default web browser in OS X Another option is to go through the browser that you want to set as the default. This is possible because most third party web browsers apps also have an option within themselves to set their own app as the new default across Mac OS X, Chrome has this and it will ask usually upon launching the app if you want to set it as the default. Firefox and Opera usually will ask the user the same question too, so it’s really easy no matter where you start. Generally speaking, the option is always within the individual browser apps “Settings” or “Preferences” and it’s made very obvious once you’re in that panel. Again, this will impact how all links open on the Mac, so expect new links to open in whatever is set as the default.

Enjoy this tip? Subscribe to the OSXDaily newsletter to get more of our great Apple tips, tricks, and important news delivered to your inbox! Enter your email address below:

Related articles:

Posted by: David Mendez in Firefox, How to, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

17 Comments

» Comments RSS Feed

  1. anon says:

    well this is a no brainer

  2. MJ says:

    maybe she’s never touched a mac before? Also we are here to help remember

  3. Griffo says:

    Why do you want to go back to Safari anyways…???

  4. jose says:

    I downloaded Firefox and I’ve made it my default browser but every time that I restart my mac this setting automatically change to safari.

  5. eddie says:

    Same here. Everytime I restart, the setting reverts back to Safari as being default.

  6. […] browser to whatever you want via the apps preferences, but if all else fails, you can always just set the default web browser in Mac OS X through Safari (yes, you use Safari to set the default even if you choose not to use Safari as the […]

  7. […] You can click and drag any URL in Twitter for Mac to another application, this is particularly helpful if you want to open a URL in a different browser rather than the default. […]

  8. chandlery says:

    Thanks, I’ve just spent half an hour looking through all the settings and options in firefox! Seems like a bit of a daft place to put this setting.

  9. Brian says:

    I’ll suggest another way with a free preference pane called RCDefaultApp 2.1 http://www.rubicode.com/Software/RCDefaultApp/

  10. Jim says:

    I appreciate the person who asked the question as simple as it may seem to cyber tech folks. The only dumb question is the question not asked and then it’s stupid. One of the things that I do appreciate is the ‘Launch Pad’ on Lion – I have three browsers and have them for specific reasons. All them are very, very different and when Firefox throws that wrench when opening their browser, I just have remember that the cleaver Fox is attempting to break again. Just say NO.

  11. […] you use Safari as your default web browser, don’t miss it. stLight.options({ […]

  12. […] showing up, and it can also slow down Safari on older computers. For those that use Safari as their default browser, speed it up and avoid any potential embarrassment by disabling “Top Sites” from […]

  13. Pij says:

    It seems that OmniWeb has the same facility.

  14. Liam says:

    i know how to do this, but no other defaults come up?, do i have to download other browsers or are pre set on to the mac?

  15. […] will cause Gmail to launch in your default web browser, and it carries addresses and subjects forward from email links to the browser just like it would […]

  16. […] even more exaggerated since every browser wants to set itself as the default, and then, to go about changing the default web browser after the fact, you have to open Safari and dig around in it’s preferences even if you […]

  17. Amelia Price says:

    I recently downloaded a “mod installer” for minecraft, and it changed my default web browser to bing. Every time i go to change it back to google it says it has changed, but it STILL USES BING! Does anyone know how to fix this??

Leave a Reply

 

Shop for Apple & Mac Deals on Amazon.com

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates