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Adobe's default-browser advice worked for me

I've been annoyed when Lightroom and Photoshop opened Internet Explorer, which isn't my default browser. But Adobe's new advice worked in picking Chrome.

Since I helped open this particular can of worms, I feel responsible for sharing the latest news about an issue in which Adobe Systems' software opens Internet Explorer even when Chrome is set as the default browser.

I had a Twitter tirade in January after the umpteenth time that Lightroom showed me the location of a photo in Internet Explorer when I clicked the Lightroom's GPS photo location icon. Internet Explorer also showed when using Adobe Photoshop's browser-based help and when Lightroom launched my Flickr page after uploading images to the Yahoo Web site. The problems showed on my home machine with 64-bit Vista, but not my work Windows XP laptop.

Tom Hogarty, Lightroom's project manager, was sympathetic and brought the issue up with the company's engineers. They ultimately pointed the finger at Chrome, though, not at themselves. Lo and behold, the Chrome update included this bug fix: "Fixed several problems with making Google Chrome the default browser on Windows Vista," according to Google.

But that fix is for the latest developer-preview version of Chrome--the fast-moving, relatively untested version that's not as reliable as the stable or beta versions Google also offers, which means most folks won't get it until the changes are better tested. Moreover, I installed the new version and still had the default-browser problem. Though I certainly wouldn't rule out some error or omission on my part, I decided to try the another fix suggested Thursday in an Adobe blog post by Jeffrey Tranberry: manually setting the default browser.

I eventually emerged victorious--but it took a lot of fiddling with Vista and a Chrome reinstallation.

Windows Vista offers multiple ways to set defaults.
Windows Vista offers multiple ways to set defaults. I had the best success with the topmost option. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET Networks

Vista helpfully offers a "Default Programs" option from the start menu, but then makes it unclear where to perform the action; I tried "Set your default options," "Associate a file type or protocol with a program," and "Set program access and computer defaults."

I had more success with the more straightforward first option, but not without a detour in which Photoshop's help system wouldn't load in any browser at all, instead throwing an error message at me suggesting I reinstall the application.

Adobe error message
All my efforts to set the default browser consfused Photoshop to the point where its browser-based help system wouldn't work at all. Reinstalling Chrome fixed the problem. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET Networks

Instead, I reinstalled the stable version of Chrome and set it as the default during its installation process. That cleared up Photoshop's problems, and Lightroom now shows map links in Chrome as well.

The moral of this story: be careful assigning blame to one company or another for problems involving multiple applications and the operating system. Happily, I sidestepped that pothole in my irate tweet, but I confess that inwardly I thought Adobe the culprit since other programs seemed to have no trouble picking Chrome.