Stop Edge from hijacking your PDF/HTML file associations

Microsoft Edge is set as the default PDF reader to open and view PDF files in Windows. So, whenever I attempt to open any PDF file in Windows 10, it automatically gets opened in Edge browser, although my preferred choice is Acrobat Reader. Moreover, when I try to change the settings, the browser hijacks it and resorts to its old behavior again. While many would not oppose this move, I believe, it’s not intended for everyone. So, here’s how you can stop Edge from changing the PDF viewer association.

Stop Edge from hijacking PDF/HTML associations

The change is observed to be triggered by a reset of File Association for a file type, which restores Windows 10 defaults. But, why do PDF FileAssociations get reset every time a user restarts his PC.

Well, The feature team for FileAssociation explains that its protection mechanism in Windows 10 prevents direct changes to the UserChoice area of the registry for each file type. As such, when no FileAssociation is configured in the registry or if an application makes the hash void by incorrectly writing to the UserChoice registry key to set associations, a reset of  FileAssociation for that file type gets triggered, restoring default status. Hence, we need to edit a registry entry.

Here is the solution to the PDF/HTML file type being continually reassigned to Microsoft Edge browser.

Open the ‘Run’ dialog box, type ‘Regedit’ and hit ‘Ok’ button. Next, navigate to the following key –

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\AppModel\Repository\Packages\Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_25.10586.0.0_neutral__8wekyb3d8bbwe\MicrosoftEdge\Capabilities\FileAssociations

Stop Edge from hijacking your PDF

Please note that, under the key that starts with Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge the address could be different in some versions of Windows.

For instance, in my case it was- Microsoft.MicrosoftEdge_42.17134.1.0_neutral_8wekyb3d8bbwe

When found, simply expand this key and others under it. Then, choose FileAssociations and look at the entries provided in the right corner of the screen.

Observe closely the Data string displayed for the .pdf name.

At the time of this writing, the string is AppXd4nrz8ff68srnhf9t5a8sbjyar1cr723, but it may be different in your case.

Right-click on the above entry and select the Rename option from the menu displayed.

After that, add the underscore character to the end of the name and press Enter to save the new name.

When done, navigate to Control Panel and open the Default Programs applet to configure the change, i.e., choosing a different application as the default application for the PDF files.

From now on, Edge should not reinstall itself as the default application.

Should you wish to change this setting to original and restore the earlier experience, simply remove the underscore character from the name of the AppXd4nrz8ff68srnhf9t5a8sbjyar1cr723 key.

If Windows does not allow you to edit the Registry key, you may need to run regedit as admin and take ownership of the Registry key.

Hope this helps!

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The author Hemant Saxena is a post-graduate in bio-technology and has an immense interest in following Windows, Office and other technology developments. Quiet by nature, he is an avid Lacrosse player. Creating a System Restore Point first before installing a new software, and being careful about any third-party offers while installing freeware is recommended.