The browser we all loved to hate (or still hate), Internet Explorer, turned 18 last month. In last couple of years, the browser has gone through tons of changes and proved to the world that if anything, they are not complacent. The new version exhibits some significant improvements over its previous versions.
But anyway, as it turns out, regardless of the version of IE you have installed in your computer, it is just a few settings tweak and a bunch of third party apps away from becoming an adorable and usable browser.
Bring back the Content Advisor
In IE 8 and 9, we had this great utility that let us curate lists of sites that we don’t want Internet Explorer to access. This option was however disabled in IE 10 and IE 11. To reinstate it, you need to go to the start menu, search for “group policy” and select “Edit group policy” from the result. You will now see a window appearing on your screen, double click on Administrative Templates, then follow this string: Windows Components | Internet Explorer | Internet Control Panel | Content Page. Double click on Show Content Advisor and inside the window, click on the radio button that says “Enabled”.
Once you have done that, open Internet Explorer, click on the settings, go to the “Content” tab, and from there you can set parental controls to other user accounts of your computer.
Kill that “View next page”
One thing that I completely dislike while reading articles on some websites is the need to click on “next page” to read the rest of the article. Many popular websites including the humor site – Cracked, and Technology publication – Forbes, have implemented this format. If you want to access the whole article in one go, IE10 and 11 have an option called “Flip Ahead” that lets you do just that. The website automatically detects if the article or slideshow has been partitioned and when you scroll down the page it gives an arrow icon to flip to the next page. This feature was first introduced in IE10 and was only available in the tile view of Windows 8. To make this option work in Desktop mode, you can go to the internet settings, and from the “Advanced” tab, click on ‘Enable flip ahead’.
Set Desktop Viewing as default
Windows 8 isn’t doing too well, one of the several reasons for this was the big change they introduced in the form of Tiles which replaced Desktop Viewing. People don’t like changes, I’m not going to quote any song lyrics to justify my point, but just trust me on that. Thankfully, Microsoft was gracious enough to provide option to switch back to the Desktop Viewing. However, it is not enabled by Default. To make this default, open Internet Explorer in Desktop View, then go to the settings and under the Programs tab, click on the dropdown box and select ‘Choose how you open links’ and click ‘Always in Internet Explorer on the desktop’. Save the settings.
Quickly share things with friends
If you are using Windows 8, there is an option in IE10 and 11 to share things right from the browser itself. You need to select the part you want to share with your friends, right click on it and it will give you an option to email the selected content to your friends. Provide their email IDs, and this should do it.
Add support for WebM files
Backed by Google, WebM is the new video standard in town. Though pretty slowly, many websites, including YouTube is implementing this new format. While many browsers have in-built support for the current crowned and WebM’s competition H.264, the new codec isn’t yet friends with all popular web browsers, including and especially Internet Explorer. However, if you want to add WebM playback functionality to Internet Explorer, you need to install this tool.
The clutter free web
If you don’t like bogus distracting elements such as adverts, sharing buttons, etc., which the web comes along, IE11 has something nice to offer. The new version has this option called “Reading View” which essentially takes all the sidetracking elements out of the page and changes the orientation of the article to make the reading experience even better. However, it is only available in IE11.
For those of you who are running any lower version of IE, there is something for you too. You can use Readability, which more or less does the same thing, and in addition, allows you to save articles for offline viewing as well.
Block advertisers from tracking you
If you are running IE10 or beta version of IE11, the good news is that your browser is already blocking many types of trackers. Both the versions have Microsoft’s Do Not Track service enabled which disables many websites from tracking your online activities. However, Microsoft doesn’t curate any lists of blocked websites. You can check out the popular Tracking Protection lists where many trustworthy companies have complied lists of sites that usually track you. You can click on the “+” button at the right side of the lists to add the list to your IE’s database. If you are still using IE8 or 9, you can download Abine Do Not Track Me utility for Internet Explorer which also protects your from trackers.
Add password management tool on your browser
With so many services online, it has become hard to keep track of passwords of all the accounts we manage. This is where password management software come in handy. If you don’t want to use a separate application for managing passwords and would rather have something built in the browser itself, Dashlane is a pretty nice pick. The software has both desktop clients as well as add-on and extensions. It prompts you to put the credential of the sites you frequently visit, and once saved, it automagically fills all the forms and credentials from there after. The app has recently implemented two factor authentication which strengthens its security.
Update your browser
The latest version of the browser IE11 will be shipping with Windows 8.1 next month. If you can’t wait to get your hands on it, Microsoft has made its preview build available on their website. The new version is faster, more secure, and is bursting with tons of new features. The browser has full support for touch and responsive devices, it can levitate and lets you check more than one tab side-by-side at once. Additionally, unlike all its previous versions, IE11 lets you open “unlimited” tabs.
If your computer is running on Windows 7, you can download the browser from its download page.
IE on Chrome
There is no denying that there are many websites – mostly government and education portals that work best on Internet Explorer. But if you have made your mind that no matter what you are not going to switch from Chrome, perhaps the below Chrome extension will help you stick to your plan.
IE Tab uses the in-built IE engine of your Operating System to render pages on Chrome. To run any website in IE mode, click on its icon from the extension bar (right next to address bar) and it will fire up a separate page for it. Additionally, you can also go to its settings (by right clicking on its icon) and add the websites you always want to be run in IE mode.