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Using a Different Browser for Embedded Links in Email

Novell Cool Solutions: Tip
By Brian Cooper

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Posted: 3 Feb 2005
 

Like everyone else, I had seen the recent news about security holes in Microsoft's Internet Explorer. I dutifully download the patches whenever they come to my machine, but frankly, it was starting to wear on me. I try to be careful of things I download and I am very reluctant to open email attachments, but the tipping point came when I was browsing a website and my virus scanner went off. Apparently, Internet Explorer had allowed a virus to infect my computer when I was just looking at a web page.

When Firefox (http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/) was announced, I decided to try it out, and I have been very pleased with it. It works very well, and not having ActiveX was a big plus. When it asked if I wanted it to be my default browser, I said yes, and I haven't been sorry. However, I still found myself back in Internet Explorer whenever I clicked on a web-link in my GroupWise email messages.

A little investigation showed that the ?default browser? is not just a single setting, but depends on several parameters in the registry, and some of them were still pointing to Internet Explorer. Changing these fixed the problem -- now clicking on links in GroupWise email messages brings up Firefox instead of Internet Explorer.

The following is a Regedit file that I built to do the job for me. Embedded within it is the path where Firefox is installed on my computer, namely

'D:\\PROGRA~1\\MOZILL~1\\FIREFOX.EXE'.

You will need to find where it has been installed on your machine and change the following text accordingly. Modifying the registry is not for the faint of heart -- before you start, you should back up the registry and know what you are doing. If none of this makes sense to you, stop here!

The following are the keys that Firefox sets when you tell it to become the default browser. They make sure that anything with a 'http' or 'https' gets sent to Firefox. You may wish to check these to make sure they are set correctly, but normally you can set these in Firefox by going to Tools->Options->General->Default Browser and selecting the option that says 'Firefox should check to see if it is the default browser when starting'.

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\http\DefaultIcon]
@="D:\\PROGRA~1\\MOZILL~1\\FIREFOX.EXE,1"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\http\shell\open\command]
@="D:\\PROGRA~1\\MOZILL~1\\FIREFOX.EXE -url \"%1\""

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\https\DefaultIcon]
@="D:\\PROGRA~1\\MOZILL~1\\FIREFOX.EXE,1"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\https\shell\open\command]
@="D:\\PROGRA~1\\MOZILL~1\\FIREFOX.EXE -url \"%1\""

The following are the keys that weren't being set by Firefox, and that were being used by GroupWise to call a browser when an email link is clicked. You will need to copy the following lines into a text editor and change the path in each entry to point to your browser. You might copy the text strings from the previous registry entries to make these.

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\htmlfile\DefaultIcon]
@="D:\\PROGRA~1\\MOZILL~1\\FIREFOX.EXE,1"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\htmlfile\shell\open\command]
@="D:\\PROGRA~1\\MOZILL~1\\FIREFOX.EXE -url \"%1\""

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\htmlfile\shell\open\ddeexec\Application]
@="firefox"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\htmlfile\shell\opennew\command]
@="D:\\PROGRA~1\\MOZILL~1\\FIREFOX.EXE -url \"%1\""

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\htmlfile\shell\opennew\ddeexec\Application]
@="firefox"

If you have been careful, you now should be able to click on a hyperlink in an email and see Firefox pop up instead of Internet Explorer. I assume that the same technique would work if your default browser were Opera or Netscape or whatever, but I haven't tried it with them.


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