As any other tech giant, Microsoft tends to over-push their in-house products against the will of their clients. In April 2017, Microsoft pissed off a lot of Windows 10 users by making its Edge browser the exclusive choice for displaying Cortana search results. In other words, if you’re on an older Windows version than Build 15031 Insider Preview (you probably are), Cortana will completely ignore your default browser preferences and use Bing in an Edge browser.
I can understand Microsoft’s financial reasons behind this decision (Edge and Bing are struggling to keep up with their competitors), but this action infuriated a lot of honest Windows users. Since then, if you use Cortana to search the web for something, it will automatically use Bing to search the web and display the content in an Edge window.
Microsoft’s official reason behind this decision is that “Bing and Edge are designed to deliver end-to-end personal search experiences”. Even though every other search provider has roughly the same capabilities, Microsoft says it can’t provide the same custom-designed experience. To me, this just seems like an excuse to shower you with custom ads and paid services “tailored to your needs”, Bing-style.
But there’s one thing we can be sure about. Microsoft has been busy with an active crusade against tools that provide the means to bypass this unfair corporate decision. As of now, a big portion of the tools that used to be effective in bypassing Cortana’s presets will not work anymore. However, developers are finding new ways to adapt to Microsoft’s inquisition.
If you’re one of those users that enjoys Cortana but could do without Bing search results in Microsoft Edge, you can still override the default settings with the right tweaks. Below you have a complete guide to changing the default browser that Cortana uses, as well as changing the default search provider. Make sure you follow the steps in order. Let’s begin!
Note: Keep in mind that since Microsoft is trying hard to limit the effectiveness of these tools, the methods below might stop working before you get to read this.
Step 1: Changing your Default Browser in Windows 10
When you install Windows 10, Microsoft Edge will automatically become your default browser. If you open your browser from solely from a shortcut, you might not realize that the default browser is not the one that you frequently use. Users have also reported that major Windows updates will override your preference even if you previously set another browser as the default choice.
As a result, before you move to Step 2, it’s crucial to make sure that you specify your default browser from Windows 10 settings. Here’s how:
Note: These steps might work with multiple browsers, but we have only tested them with Chrome and Firefox.
- Use Cortana to search for “choose a default browser” and tap on the System settings option.
- Click on the icon under Web browser and select the browser that you want Cortana to open your searches in.
- Close the settings window to save your new selection.
Step 2: Set Cortana to Use Your Default Browser with EdgeDeflector
Prior to the update in April 2017, Step 1 would have been enough to make Cortana display web search results in your default browser. But since then, Cortana uses a URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) to modify normal URLs so that they open in Edge browser.
To counter this dirty tactic, you can use a free tool called EdgeDeflector. The program is capable of overriding Cortana’s browser settings, allowing you to open search results in your default browser. Here’s a quick guide to installing an configuring this tool:
- Visit this link and scroll down to the Downloads section. Click on EdgeDeflector to download it.
- Double-click on the executable. You will be presented with a message saying that the app is a potential security risk. Pay no mind to it, click on More Info, then click on Run Anyways.
- Accept the default installation folder and click Install. Once the installation completes, click Close.
- Once the installation is complete, you should automatically be prompted with a dialog box. Select EdgeDeflector and tick the box next to Always use this app. Hit Ok to confirm.
- Do a web search in Cortana and click on See web results. Your default browser will be used instead of Edge.
Step 3: Set Cortana to Use Google instead of Bing
When you followed the last step from the method above, you might have noticed that even if Cortana now opens your web searches in your default browser, it’s still using Bing instead of your regular search engine. Since Google is more popular than Bing, it’s understandable why a lot of users want to keep using it.
The only way to fix this wrong is to install an add-on or extension to redirect the search. Although there may be others, we have only been able to find search redirectors for Chrome and Firefox. Please follow the guide according to your default browser that you previously set at Step 1.
Setting Chrome to Open Cortana Searches in Google
So far there have been a few extensions that used to work but have since been pulled from the Chrome’s extension store. However, there’s an extension called Chrometana that seems to endure despite Microsoft’s efforts. Here’s a quick guide to installing Chrometana:
- Visit Chrome’s Web Store and search for “chrometana”.
- Once you find the extension, press the Add to Chrome Button.
- Click on Add extension to confirm.
- You should see a pop-up dialog in the bottom-right corner of the screen signaling that the extension has been added to Chrome. This is a good sign.
- Search for something in Cortana in in order to trigger a new dialog box that will allow you to select the default search engine. Choose Google Chrome and tick the box next to Always use this app. Hit Ok to confirm.
- Now, all your Cortana web searches will be performed by Google Search. You’ll briefly catch a glimpse of Bing in the search bar before being redirected to Google.
Setting Firefox to Open Cortana Searches in Google
If you’re using Firefox as your default browser, you can use the Bing-Google add-on to redirect Cortana’s Bing searches to Google. This add-on has the exact same functionality as the Chrometana extension. Here’s a quick guide to installing and configuring Bing-Google:
- Open Firefox, visit Firefox Add-ons store and search for “bing-google”.
- Open the Add-on link of Bing-Google and click on Add to Firefox.
- Wait until the add-on is downloaded, then click on Add (at the top of the screen).
- Click on Restart Firefox so that the new changes can take effect.
- Now Cortana will automatically perform web searches with Google Search in Firefox. But remember that Firefox needs to be your default browser and Edgedeflector needs to be properly installed and configured. If that’s not the case, revisit Step 1 and Step 2.
If you followed the steps above, you successfully avoided Microsoft’s restrictions on making you use Edge browser and Bing when doing Cortana web searches. But keep in mind that if Microsoft decides to patch these exploits, some of the methods above might stop working.
Do you use a different browser as your default choice? If you do, let us know in the comment section if you found an extension or add-on capable of redirecting searches (other than Chrometana Chrome and Bing-Google).