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?

  • 1
    Is there a pattern to the URLs? Or do you mean choosing freely which browser should open a link?
    – iglvzx
    Feb 1, 2012 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, 2012 at 6:09

13 Answers 13


As suggested by ahz in a comment to another answer, you can install Browser Selector by Danny Tuppeny (DanTup).

It's a manual process to set it up, but it's relatively easy to do. And you have the full source code to check what it does. I just installed it, it took a few minutes to set up, and it works perfectly.

It works by registering as a web browser in Windows (you run BrowserSelector.exe --register), and then you select it as the default browser using PC Settings > Apps > Default apps > Web browser (can be opened with Windows+R, typing ms-settings:defaultapps, Enter).

It won't handle internal links within a browser of course, but links clicked in Windows programs open in the browser (or browser profile) you specify in an INI file.

I personally set it to open Facebook links in a separate Chrome profile that I only use for Facebook. Other links open in the latest used Chrome profile, as normal. This is the INI file I use to do that ("Profile 7" is the name of my Chrome profile for Facebook):

chrome = C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe
chrome_facebook = "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome_proxy.exe"  --profile-directory="Profile 7"
firefox = C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe
ie = iexplore.exe
edge = microsoft-edge:{url}

; Url preferences.
; Only * is treated as a special character (wildcard).
; Matches are domain-only. Protocols and paths are ignored.
; Use "*.blah.com" for subdomains, not "*blah.com" as that
; would also match "abcblah.com".
facebook.com = chrome_facebook
*.facebook.com = chrome_facebook

You can even use regular expressions to match the URLs (including paths) if you enclose them in /.../.

The program only takes up 50 KB of disk space.

  • 1
    Thank you very much. That works great. The ini file that came with the program did not point to my Firefox but hat was easily fixed. Now I can open support request forum post notification emails in a different browser with a click.
    – timtak
    Aug 23, 2021 at 2:29
  • 1
    I found Browser Tamer to be a lighter and faster alternative, it's written in modern C++ and is damn fast.
    – Ivan G.
    Feb 17, 2022 at 9:18
  • @IvanG. Nice with an alternative. But you should really state that you are recommending your own program; otherwise it appears as an independent recommendation, which it is not. Not disclosing your authorship comes through as misleading and dishonest. Also, your web page states that your program only supports Firefox and Edgium, whereas Browser Selector supports absolutely all browsers – even browsers that are not yet made – as it uses simple command lines. For that reason I find Browser Selector far superior; furthermore it is very light and effectively instant, and thus "damn fast".
    – Jesper
    Feb 17, 2022 at 14:12
  • @Jesper browser selector needs .net runtime vm which is far from lightweight and damn fast :) Also using an ini file doesn't make it useful. And yeah, it IS my product but i see nothing wrong in recommending it - it's free for everyone and not backend by any evil company.
    – Ivan G.
    Feb 17, 2022 at 16:49
  • If you received an error make sure the paths under [browsers] in the .ini file are all correct. Try running them in win+R. My problem was the default chrome path.
    – Bizhan
    Mar 3, 2023 at 15:17

A solution would be a separate "browser handler" program. It would be set in Windows as the default browser, but wouldn't open any link itself at all and instead present you with a list of browsers and relay the URL to the one you select. Basically same as on android, if you hadn't ticked the "Always use …" option for a specific file type.


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 http://www.org/

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.

  • 1
    I’m not sure what you mean. If you mean URLs like http://www.org/page.htm?browser=IE, http://www.org/page.htm?browser=chrome, 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, 2012 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, 2012 at 19:57
  • There are a number of apps out there for Windows and Mac that act AS your default browser; so when you click a link, the app runs, and based on the URL can open a particular browser for you. Jul 24, 2018 at 0:41

I created a shortcut on my desktop:

"C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe" http://example.com

Add a space between .exe" and http:

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

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

  • This is exactly what I came here to find. TY.
    – aaron9eee
    Nov 8, 2021 at 20:31

For my windows computer, if the link needs to open in Chrome, I just add the prefix "chromerun://" before the "http://" in the webaddress when I'm saving the shortcut or creating the hyperlink for others to use. This will cause the page to open in chrome automatically, regardless of the default browser setting. I've included an example below.

enter image description here

Using a shortcut or clicking on a hyperlink with this path in a word document or email will open google using Chrome every time. I am not an IT person and don't know exactly why this works or if there is an iE equivalent of this trick, but I've been doing this for years and it works well for me.

  • What is this? This does nothing in Windows 10. It doesn't know what this is. Mar 30, 2022 at 14:06

I actually found a simple way to make this happen, without any crazy extensions or coding gibberish.

  1. Install a browser that you don't often use and make it the default.(Opera or Firefox)
  2. Un-install that browser.
  3. Now windows doesn't know which browser to use so it will prompt you to choose.
  4. Make sure every time you choose you uncheck the little box at the bottom.

and remember don't make any browser your default!

Let us know if this has worked for you, it's the easiest and best solution.


I know this is old but I've just been asked to update a link on our SharePoint intranet so that an update to an external 3rd party web based system doesn't break, when they roll out a new version next week, that will no longer allow IE as the client browser.

All I ended up doing was adding microsoft-edge: to the front of the existing URL and, hey presto, we get a pop-up prompting us to allow the link to open in Microsoft Edge.

Might be worth trying for some of these scenarios.


Please check out Re:Link, a browser app that does just that. Re:Link acts like a browser and opens urls based on predefined saved rules. It is available on Windows and Mac.



A possible alternative might be: Instead of clicking the link, DRAG it onto your (already open) desired browser. Drop it there, and it'll open there. (At least, this worked when I tested dragging URL's onto Chrome and Edge.)


There is an Edge extension which name is Open in Chrome:

enter image description here


You can use Browser Tamer to open different links with different browsers or even with different profiles of the same browser.

Feature list, largely taken from the Browser Tamer website:

  • Extremely lightweight on memory and resources, written in safe modern C++.
  • Self-contained single .exe under 2 Mb in size with no dependencies.
  • Portable mode supported.
  • Fits on a floppy disk if you can find one! 💾
  • Completely free and open-source.
  • Intelligent detection of the most popular browsers.
    • Firefox, Edge, Chrome, and more.
    • Detection of browser profiles.
    • Support for Firefox Containers.
    • Support for incognito mode / tor mode.
  • Add your own custom browser or application customised with any parameters you want.
  • Rule-based redirect based on matching inside entire URL, domain, or path. This can be a simple case-insensitive substring or a regular expression (regex).
  • Assign rule priorities.
  • Extensions to integrate with Firefox, Chrome, Edge, or any Firefox-based or Chromium-based browser (Opera, Vivaldi, Waterfox, etc.).
  • Open links in "chromeless (frameless)" window.
  • Optional audit of rule hits to a csv file.
  • Beautiful UI based on ImGui (GPU-accelerated UI engine used in games) with support for themes.

To my knowledge, Browser Tamer was written by Super User Ivan G.


I think it depends on the version of windows, as some of the solutions suggested worked for me on older versions of windows, and no longer work on Windows 10.

I found a simple solution.

If you already have a desktop shortcut, just make a copy of it.

If you need a shortcut to the browser you want to use. Right click on the browser in the start menu, and go to "properties/open file location". From here you can right click the .exe and use "send to/desktop" to create a desktop shortcut.

Right click the shortcut, and select properties. Under "Target", add a space, followed by the address you want it to visit.

Properties of browser shortcut


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.

  • 2
    This doesn't really answer the question.
    – DavidPostill
    May 4, 2016 at 8:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .