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Does any one know how to open a specific browser for specific links?

I have two links that I want to open in IE and others in Chrome. Is this even possible?

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Is there a pattern to the URLs? Or do you mean choosing freely which browser should open a link? – iglvzx Feb 1 '12 at 5:56
Can you clarify from where you are opening the links (e.g. from Windows Explorer or from inside a browser/webpage)? – iglvzx Feb 1 '12 at 6:09

Answer / Explanation / Technical:

No, there is no practical way to do that. Windows has a list of “handlers” which tell it what to do (eg what program to run) when different types of files and system objects are activated (eg opened). The list is limited to types which for the most part just includes extensions (eg .EXE, .DOC, .URL, etc.) There is no way to specify handlers for specific filenames since the list would eventually grow ridiculously large and provide extremely poor performance. Worse, there is definitely no way to specify handlers based on the contents of a file since that would require Windows to (1) open the file, and (2) know how to read and interpret the contents.

Bookmarks (ie, “browser links”) are plain-text files with a .URL extension which contain the URL. For example:


For what you want, Windows would need to know how to open the file, read and parse it, analyze the URL and make a decision based on that. There is just no way for that to happen.

Theoretically there could be a way to practically implement file-name/contents-specific handlers. Preview handlers allow Windows to read a file and provide information about it (eg video length and thumbnail, audio bitrate, # words in a DOC file, etc.), so the framework is there, but currently, there is just no way to perform content-specific actions.

Possible Solution:

If there really are only two links (ie you do not create new bookmarks often), then the closest you can come to doing a URL-specific handler would be to create your own file-type (eg .URLc) by copying the default URL file-type and changing the program (browser) that is used to open it.

Better Solution 1:

If your issue is that certain sites require IE (eg Windows Update), then a much easier option would be to install an extension like IE Tab. The better ones even let you configure it to automatically use an IE-based tab for specified URLs.

Better Solution 2:

Another option as suggested by Psycogeek is to create a normal desktop shortcut to pass the URL to IE instead of using an actual Internet shortcut (aka bookmark):

  1. Right click a blank area on the desktop (or folder) and select New->New Shortcut
  2. For the location, you would simply enter a URL to create a bookmark (a plain-text .URL file, but that is not what you want, instead prefix the URL with iexplore. For example: iexplore

Now instead of a bookmark file, it creates a Windows shortcut (a binary .LNK file). When you want to run that specific site, it will run the specified program with the specified arguments (in this case IE with the target URL). It can be launched in the same way as a bookmark.

Like the possible solution presented above, it makes the assumption that there are few items that require special treatment since it means a little more work to create and maintain them. Note that because these are Windows shortcuts instead of bookmarks, they will not be treated as expected in certain scenarios that work with bookmarks such as backups, duplicate detection, bookmark managers, etc. However, if there are just a small handful of special-case URLs, then it should not be too much of a problem to work-around it.

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I’m not sure what you mean. If you mean URLs like,, etc. then no, there is no way to do it from within Windows the way that was asked (ie, “open default browser”), but like I said, some IE extensions for Chrome can do that from within the browser (eg, if URL is in list, reload in IE tab). – Synetech Feb 1 '12 at 6:50
@Psycogeek, ah like that. Sure that sounds good too. It’s like my possible solution. If there are really few items and new ones are not added regularly, then it should be practical. (Of course it has the side-effect that they are desktop shortcuts instead of Internet shortcuts, so they won’t be treated like normal bookmarks, but that’s just an expected compromise. I can add it if you want, or you can add it as your own answer if you prefer. – Synetech Feb 1 '12 at 19:57

I created a shortcut on my desktop:

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe"

Add a space between .exe" and http:

When you click on it, you will go to using Chrome.

I resized the IE window and dragged and dropped the shorcut to the links bar in IE.

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Right click the link and select "Copy Hyperlink". Now open the Browser of your choice and, paste in the address bar. Hit your enter key and your there.

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This doesn't really answer the question. – DavidPostill May 4 at 8:17

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