Change the default web browser on Mac

How to change default web browser application on Mac computers?

The Safari application is the default web browser on all Apple products including Mac computers, such as iMac, iMac Pro, Mac mini, Mac pro, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, MacBook, and also mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (with the mobile version of Safari). You may, however, not like the app interface or functionality and prefer alternative software such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Opera. This is common to those who have recently switched from Windows to Mac devices.

There are no restrictions on the number of similar applications you can have installed on the Mac operating system, however, additional applications do not change your default settings. Therefore, when you open a URL shortcut or external link, it will be loaded through the Safari application. Fortunately, there are a few simple methods that allow you to choose the software used to open URL shortcuts and external links. There may also be other reasons to change the browser, for example, due to various circumstances, Safari might be slower than alternative software. Another common reason to choose another browser is extensions required by the user that are unavailable on the Safari application. Individual users will have their own reasons to change the default browser, and in this article we describe methods to achieve this.


Table of Contents:

Change default web browser on modern Mac OS

Starting with OS X Yosemite 10.10, Apple decided to move the default web browser option to System Preferences, and this setting remains on all newer versions. This decision made choosing the default browser more logical, however, long term users of Apple products may find it a little more confusing. To change the default browser on modern versions of Mac operating systems, click on the Apple logo in the menu bar at top of your screen, then select System Preferences. When the new window appears, click on General, and under this pane look for the drop-down menu beside 'Default web browser'. Click the menu and choose the desired application. Note: in order to switch between default web browsers, at least one alternative must be installed on your computer - therefore, before you can change the application, you must install Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, or another browser. All available web browser applications will be listed within this drop-down menu.


[Back to Table of Contents]

Change default web browser on earlier Mac OS X

Changing the default web browser on earlier versions of the Mac operating system may seem confusing and somewhat illogical, since it requires launching the Safari application even though the purpose is to use an alternative application. This is the case if your Mac is running on OS X Mavericks 10.9 or an earlier version. To switch the default browser, launch the Safari app, then click on Safari in the menu bar at top of your screen. Select Preferences. Alternatively, press the keyboard shortcut of Command and Comma (,). In the new window, select the General tab, locate the drop-down menu beside Default web browser and select the program that you wish to use. Close the preferences window and quit Safari. From this point, your computer will open URL shortcuts and other external links with the software you have set. Additionally, most web browsing applications allow you to automatically set that particular program as the default, usually at each launch of the application (unless you have disabled the suggestions). If you have agreed to automatically set and wish to revert the default browser, you must repeat the procedure via Safari's preferences.

[Back to Table of Contents]

Alternative method to change default browser on Mac

You can also set an application as the default web browser through the browser's settings automatically. As mentioned above, web browsing software usually suggests that you assign it as the default app automatically, however, there is a way to accept this suggestion manually (if you have declined the suggestion before). On the other hand, this method may not work due to various restrictions on perform such changes within system preferences.

  • To set Google Chrome as the default browser, launch it and click on three vertical dots in the top right corner of the window, then select settings. Alternatively, you can type chrome://settings in the address field. When the new window opens, scroll down until you find the Default browser section, click Make default, and the application automatically assigns itself as the default web browser.
  • If you wish to set Mozilla Firefox as default web browser, launch it and click on three bars icon in the top right corner of the window, then select Preferences. Alternatively you can type about:preferences in the address field. Select General section from the left side bar, and at top of the current window look for the 'Firefox is not your default browser' message and at right side. Click Make Default. The application then automatically assigns itself as the default web browser.
  • To set Opera as the default web browser, open the app and click on the Opera menu, then select Preferences. In the new page, ensure the Basic section is selected on the left sidebar. Click the option 'Make Opera my default browser'.

As you can see, assigning default option is similar on all web browsers. if you are using browser that are not mentioned here, open the applications' preferences and find this option under the General tab.

Video Showing how to change default web browser on Mac

[Back to Top]

Click to post a comment

About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter to stay informed about the latest tech news or online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

Our guides are free. However, if you want to support us you can send us a donation.

About PCrisk

PCrisk logo

PCrisk is a cyber security portal, informing Internet users about the latest digital threats. Our content is provided by security experts and professional malware researchers. Read more about us.

Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.