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Make Communicator Your Default Browser for Windows 95 or NT


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A few important notes before beginning:
  • These instructions are for selecting Communicator as your default browser under Windows 95 and Windows NT. If you use an operating system other than Windows 95 or Windows NT, you'll need to follow different instructions.

  • You can also get instructions for how to uninstall Internet Explorer 4.0 or Internet Explorer 3.0. If you do choose to uninstall Internet Explorer and set Communicator as your default, you'll first want to convert your Internet Explorer Favorites and Internet Explorer Mail address book into Communicator-compatible formats.

  • Print out this page of instructions so that you have a copy after you quit the browser and it's handy while you perform the tasks outlined below. The URL is

 Setting Netscape Communicator to Be Your Default Web Browser

 The first step in the process is to set Internet Explorer so it will not ask whether it should be your default browser:

  1. Open up Internet Explorer. 
  2. Under the View menu, click Internet Options (in 4.x browsers) or Options (in 3.x browsers). 
  3. In the dialog box that appears, click the tab labeled Programs. 
  4. At the bottom of the dialog box you will see a checkbox that reads "Internet Explorer should check to see whether it is the default browser." Make sure this box is not checked. 
  5. Click OK and close Internet Explorer.
Next, set Communicator to be your default browser:
  1. Run Communicator by choosing Programs and then Netscape Communicator from the Start menu or by double-clicking the Communicator icon on your desktop. 
  2. You should be presented with a dialog box that reads "Navigator is no longer registered to handle Internet Shortcuts. Would you like to register Navigator as your default browser?" Click Yes. 
If you do not encounter this dialog box when starting Communicator, you will need to reset Communicator to bring this dialog box up the next time you launch Netscape:
  1. Exit Communicator. Important: Make sure Communicator and all of its components are NOT running. 
  2. Go to the Netscape directory on your hard drive. Open up your hard drive (usually labeled C: drive). Next, find and open the folder labeled Program Files. Inside you will find a folder labeled Netscape. Important: This is the default location for Netscape; the location on your particular computer may differ. If necessary, you can use the Find feature in the Start menu to locate it. 
  3. Inside the Netscape folder, open up the folder labeled Users. 
  4. Inside Users, open the folder with the same name as your Communicator profile. There may be only one folder, but if there is more than one, choose the one that coincides with the profile you select when you launch Netscape. 
  5. Back up the file called prefs.js somewhere on your hard drive. Note: This file may simply be labeled prefs.  
  6. Open this file by using a text editor. By default the pref.js file is associated with Netscape. In order to open this file with a text editor, select the file with a right click and choose the menu item called Open With. In the window that appears, select Notepad or Notepad.exe from the list. Next, make sure that the "Always use this program to open this type of file" checkbox at the bottom of the window is unchecked. Then, click the OK button to close this window and open the pref.js file.
  7. In this file, you will see a line (you may have to scroll down a bit) that reads:
  8. user_pref("browser.wfe.ignore_def_check", true);

    Leaving the line otherwise untouched, change the word true to the word false. Note: Disregard the text at the top of this page that reads "This is a generated file! Do not edit." If you do not see the above line in your prefs file, Communicator may already be configured as your default browser. 

  9. Save the file (choose Save from the File menu) and close the window. 
  10. Next time you launch Communicator, you will be presented with a dialog box asking if you would like Netscape to be set as your default browser. Choose Yes. 
If upon launching Communicator, you still do not get the dialog box asking if you would like to set Communicator as your default browser, you may have incorrectly edited your prefs.js file. Locate the saved prefs.js file that you made (in step 5) and replace the newly altered file with this saved file. You can do this by repeating steps 2, 3, and 4 (to open up your profile folder) and replacing the prefs.js file in your profile folder with the one you previously saved. From here, go back to step 5 and repeat the rest of the process, making sure to follow the instructions in step 7 very carefully.

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