For a long time now magnet links have been a mainstay of all the major web browsers, making life a little easier for people downloading torrent files. But what exactly are magnet links? How do you set them up and open them? And how do you change the program that they link to? We reveal all here.
What Is a Magnet Link?
First, we need to understand some basics. Magnet links and torrent files go hand in hand, but they aren’t exactly the same thing. In fact, if you use a magnet link, you don’t even need to download a torrent file to start downloading the content. Its crucial identifying information – the hash – is calculated on a given website rather than on the torrent client and sent directly to your Bittorrent program.
The benefits of the magnet link are that a site doesn’t need to host the original torrent file anymore and just has to provide the link. For the user, this cuts out the need to download a torrent file before downloading the content, and for the site, it saves on bandwidth because it doesn’t need to host files on its servers.
Many torrent file download sites prominently display a “magnet download” menu option which will activate the magnet links. These magnet links leave no “trackers” behind on your torrent download. It is recommended to use a reliable commercial VPN while downloading torrent/magnet links.
How to Use Magnet Links
If you can’t see a prominent magnet link on your torrent file page, there is another easy option. On most torrent download sites, magnet link info hashes are viewable on the correct torrent file page. The following is an example of one such info hash on a popular download site.
If you dig deeper, the complete magnet link is viewable on the torrent download button and marked by a “magnet” prefix. We will have more of this in the next few sections. As shown below in the screenshot for a well-known torrent proxy, the magnet link is prominently visible as soon as you click the torrent link. This is what you should try to use.
The magnet link can be copied for further use with a Torrent client (any torrent downloader software). It can also be copied into browsers such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or any other custom browser.
Here the magnet link info hash has been copy-pasted into qBittorent, a desktop torrent client. But we will see the same examples with different browsers.
Before downloading a magnet link using a desktop client, you have to take care of this feature in the installation summary. Whether you install your torrent client on Windows, Mac, or Linux, ensure that you have enabled access to magnet links.
Magnet Links on Browsers
In this section we will learn how to download magnet links on any browser of your choice. The essential techniques are the same, but the procedure slightly differs according to the browser.
Open Magnet Links in Chrome
First, you’ll need to make sure that Chrome will allow you to create magnet links. To do this, go to the following link
chrome://settings/handlers on your Chrome browser.
On this page, enable the option “Allow sites to ask to become default handlers for protocols (recommended).”
You just need to find a torrent download site that hosts magnet links (most of them do), select the file you want to download, and choose “Magnet Download,” if there is such an option. If not, just select the default download option and there’s a good chance it will be a magnet link.
If it is a “complete” magnet link you’re downloading, you’ll get a message offering to open the magnet link with your Bittorrent platform of choice. When Chrome asks if you want to open your Bittorrent client, tick the box that says “Always open these types of links in the associated app.” Click “Open” to proceed.
In the following example of downloading from Chrome, we have used a client called “Torrex“, which is available in the Microsoft Store. Such examples are particularly useful if your torrent client is not supported by Windows 10.
To download magnet links on Chrome and Edge, you can alternatively use an extension called JSTorrent.
Open Magnet Links in Edge
The procedure to download torrent clients on Edge is remarkably similar to Chrome (especially with JSTorrent extension), but you don’t need to enable any handlers. Instead, you can use the Edge browser-specific add-on “Magnet Linker” as shown below.
Once the magnet linker add-on is enabled on Edge, you’ll get a message offering to open the magnet link with your Bittorrent platform of choice.
Open Magnet Links in Firefox
To open magnet links in Firefox, you again find a torrent file you want to download, and a pop-up should appear asking you which program (usually your Bittorrent client) you want to open the file with. To reset the association and get the dialog to appear again, do the following.
In the Firefox address bar, enter
about:config, then search for
network.protocol-handler.expose.magnet on that page. In this preference text, click “Toggle” to make sure the “Value” is set to “false.”
Once done, you can open the magnet link in Firefox using the torrent application of your choice.
Open Magnet Links in Other Browsers
If you already have a Bittorrent client, the process for associating magnet links in other browsers is largely similar. Just find the file you want to download and click it. If it’s a magnet link, then your Torrent client should open automatically. Alternatively, you may get a prompt asking if you want to open the magnet file with your Bittorrent app, like this message in Microsoft Edge that is pictured below.
If nothing happens when you click the magnet link or you get the message that “this file does not have an app associated with it,” then you need to create the file association manually.
Go to the Windows Registry Editor (Win + R, enter
regedit into the box) and navigate to the following location:
In the registry pane on the right under “Data,” it should show the directory of your Bittorrent app followed by some other text. For Utorrent in its default directory, it should look like this:
If the information under Data doesn’t match with your Bittorrent client directory, right-click “(Default),” click “Modify,” and enter the correct directory for your Bittorrent client executable, making sure that it’s followed by
Once you’ve done this, all your browsers should associate magnet links with your Bittorrent app of choice.
Now that you’ve done that, why not find out how to watch videos and movies with your online friends? Also, torrents can be a legally murky area. Here’s all you need to know about the legality of downloading torrent files.