Thursday, June 16, 2005

Internet Explorer

The world's most prevalent browser can generally be operated without much thought. It likes to remember your passwords and type ahead for you, assuming you'll retype the same terms and URLs over and over. And it particularly likes staying installed, even going so far as to be unremovable.

Manage Saved Passwords

When you enter a Web site username and password in Internet Explorer, it may ask if you want it to remember the password. If you click Yes, it will store the password and automatically add it the next time you enter the username. But if you check Don't offer to remember any more passwords, then it won't offer to help in the future, whether you click Yes or No.

To recover this feature, launch Internet Options from IE's Tools menu, click the Content tab, click the AutoComplete button, and check the Prompt me to save passwords box. But pause before you do so—if the machine is not physically secure, you may want to uncheck the User names and passwords in forms box and click the Clear Passwords button to remove the stored passwords instead. For more sophisticated password and form management, see our reviews of form fillers and password managers, at .

Delete Items From Autocomplete Lists

Delete items from AutoComplete lists

When you start typing in a Web form, you may see a list of things you typed before—some of which may be private, inappropriate for work or family, or simply typed incorrectly. You can lose this baggage easily. While you're in the text box, use the down arrow (not the mouse) to scroll down and select that item. Then press the Del key to get rid of it. You can see all AutoComplete entries for a form field by clicking in the blank field and pressing the down arrow.

Pump Up the Address Bar Text

High-res screens are great—they fit much more information into the same amount of space—but when your display is set to a high resolution, reading the text in IE's Address Bar may be difficult. Here's the trick: The Address Bar uses the same font as the icon titles on the desktop. You can change these through Display Properties.

Right-click on the desktop, choose Properties, then click to the Appearance tab. Click on the Advanced button. In the pull-down Item list that appears, select Icon. Choose a more readable font and click on Apply. If the icon titles are now truncated, you can change Icon Spacing (Horizontal) and Icon Spacing (Vertical) to larger values

Share IE Favorites

On multiuser machines, you may want to make all user accounts share the same bookmarks, so that any added bookmarks propagate to all users. To accomplish this, you'll have to tweak the Registry. First, select File | Import and Export and export your Favorites to a file. Then log on as each user and navigate to the Registry key

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrenTVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders.

Locate the value named Favorites and change its data from the default of %USER

PROFILE%\Favorites to %ALLUSERSPROFILE%\Favorites. Then import the saved Favorites into any user account.

Cure IE's Window-Size Amnesia

It's a small problem but an annoying one: You may find Internet Explorer suddenly opening links in small windows. You can reset this easily.

Simply close all Internet Explorer windows. Open just one and Shift-click a link within it to open a secondary window. Adjust the secondary window to the size you want for all secondary windows. Then close it by holding Shift while clicking the X icon at top right. Size the primary window and close it in the same way. You may need to repeat this process if IE forgets after a while. Note that you can do the same for Windows Explorer, omitting the secondary window.

Block Internet Options

Unscrupulous Web sites or malicious programs can hijack your Internet Explorer home page, causing IE to start at a (usually) sleazy page. Anybody with access to your computer can do the same, or change other important settings. This dual Registry tweak offers some defense against unauthorized changes to your IE settings. Navigate to

HKCU\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Restrictions and find or create a DWORD value named NoBrowserOptions. Double-click it and set its data to 1.

Now switch to the neighboring key HKCU\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Control Panel. Find or create a DWORD value named HomePage, and again set its data to 1. If you want to use Internet Options or change the home page yourself, you will need to change those two values temporarily to 0. Users of Spybot Search & Destroy, take note: "Immunize" options in this program set these values automatically.

Clean Up the Right-Click Menu

Internet Explorer's right-click context menu may contain items you don't need or ones that point to nonexistent programs. You can use the Registry Editor (regedit from Start | Run) to remove unwanted items from this menu.

In the Registry Editor, navigate to HKCU\ Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\MenuExt. You'll see a number of subkeys, each of which represents one of IE's context menu items. Simply select and delete any you don't want to see anymore

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