After having been using Windows 8 since the consumer preview was first released, I’ve decided I really need a quick toggle to set the default behavior of IE10 based on where I am. What do you mean? You might ask. Hold your horses, let me explain.
When I’m at work, I like to use Desktop IE to do productivity work since I have so many apps opened at the same time, and all of them are desktop apps, so opening links in Metro IE doesn’t really make sense to me. When I’m at home, I like to use the Metro IE version since I usually just read Twitter and read articles linked from my twitter feed. But to change the default behavior of IE to specify which version of IE to use, I would have to do the following steps (count with me):
1. Open Internet Explorer on the desktop
2. Click the Settings icon in Internet Explorer
3. Open Internet Options
4. Switch to the Programs tab
5. Click the drop-down option
6. Select one of the options
7. Then click OK to close the Internet Options box
8. (If I want to use Metro IE) Close Desktop IE
As you can see, there are at least 7 steps and at least a mile of mouse travel to specify which IE version you would like to use to open web links.
With that dilema, I sent out a tweet looking for help but didn’t get a sastisfactory answer, so I set out to find the answer on my own. I decided, there must be a registry setting somewhere to set IE’s default bahavior. I did some searching (using @Bing, of course) and found the key where you can set the default browser, which can be found here: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\http\shell\open\command
I started to change the settings using Internet Options and watched the registry key to see if anything changes. Regardless of which option I chose, the key remained the exact same, nothing changed. So, more digging I did. I kept digging until I found this registry key with a value name that kind of makes sense, the key name is AssociationActivationMode. JACK POT! I thought to myself. I proceeded to change the settings using Internet Options, and refreshed the registry, and what do you know! AssociationActivationMode changed it’s value based on which option I chose in Internet Options.
Since I have not been able to find a desktop app to quickly change a registry key, I resorted to exporting the key after changing the value of AssociationActivationMode for each “mode” or behavoir. At this point, I have two registry files on the desktop, one named Metro IE and one named Desktop IE. Anytime I need to set Desktop IE as the default IE, the following steps are taken:
1. Double click on the registry file I exported
2. Approve the User Account Control message
3. Agree to add key to the registry
4. Dismiss the message “key has been added to registry”
That takes 4 quick clicks with minimal mouse travel. I feel accomplished!
NOTE: If you feel adventurous and would like to follow my trick, just remember, the registry key exported includes all (or most) of your IE settings, so anytime you change any other settings in IE, just remember to discard the existing registry files and export the key again. If not, anytime you activate that registry file, you will basically be restoring IE settings to when you last exported that key.
OK, now that the story is over. Here are the instructions to set the default browser mode without going through Internet Options.
DISCLAIMER: You will follow the steps below at your own risk. I will not take responsibity if your pc blow up (or just stop working) from following the steps below.
1. Open the Registry Editor (If you don’t know how to open Regedit, I suggest you stay away from these instructions).
2. Browse to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main
3. Look for AssociationActivationMode on the right pane of Registry Editor
4. Double click on AssociationActivationMode and change the value (if necessary) (0 = Let Internet Explorer decide; 1 = Always in Internet Explorer (this is Metro IE); 2 = Always in Internet Explorer on the desktop)
5. Right click on the Main key
6. Select Export
7. In the File Browser, select the Desktop as your destination folder
8. Name the file appropriately (remember the value you set, 1 for Metro, and 2 for Desktop)
9. Repeat step 4 – 8 for each mode you would like to save
Thank you for reading and good luck!
@WinsRUs (follow me on Twitter)