Fix unable to open url error message in Word

by on November 8, 2009

Q: I have Mozilla FireFox set as my default web browser and when I click a URL in a Word Document I get an error message from Word saying “Unable to open [URL]. Cannot locate the Internet server or proxy server.” Word does not even try to open Mozilla FireFox it just tells me that it cannot open the URL. Is there anyway I can fix this?

A: This is one of those great Windows/Word features where if you don’t have Internet Explorer set as your default browser then you are going to have to either set Internet Explorer to be your default browser or do a tweak to your registry that I don’t suggest most people do. The easy solution is obviously just to set Internet Explorer as your default browser.

The default browser setting does nothing more than tell Windows what browser to open when you click on a link outside of the web browser. This means if you click on a link in Word, Outlook, or another application besides a web browser then it sends that information to your default browser. By setting Internet Explorer to the default browser it just means when you click on a link in another application it will open Internet Explorer instead of Mozilla FireFox.

In most cases changing your default browser is not a big deal because clicking on links in applications like Outlook is not always a great idea because they could be bad links anyway. It is always better to manually type in a URL into your browser to make sure the link you click on is the link you actually go to.

Some people will hate the idea or even find it unacceptable so for those people the fix is to first backup your registry. The next step is to modify your registry by modifying or adding the key “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\9.0\Common\Internet” and setting the value to 1.

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