Change the Default Web Browser in Mac OS X
Updated: 2/11/2021 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 macOS Big Sur, macOS Catalina, macOS Mojave, High Sierra, Sierra, OS X Yosemite and new versions, and older versions of Mac 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 Mac OS:
“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, as all will be redirected to whatever browsing app is set as the default.
Changing the Default Web Browser in MacOS, Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, Sierra, El Capitan, Yosemite or Later
Apple moved the default web browser setting in macOS Big Sur 11, macOS Catalina 10.15, macOS Mojave 10.14, macOS High Sierra 10.13, MacOS Sierra 10.12, El Capitan 10.11, or OS X Yosemite 10.10 onward to the System Preferences:
- Open the Apple menu and choose ‘System Preferences’, then go to ‘General’
- 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)
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, Mac OS X 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:
Here’s what the setting looks like in older versions of 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
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.
Do you have a preference for a particular default browser for your Mac? Any thoughts or experiences on changing the browser? Let us know in the comments.