BOOT CAMP 267 (18/03/03)
INTERNET EXPLORER HINTS AND
We’ve reached the halfway point in this brief roundup of
hints and tips for popular PC applications and this week it’s the turn of
Internet Explorer. Incidentally they’ve all been tested on IE version 6 but most
of them should work on version 5 without any problems.
IE comes in for a lot of stick and it has its fair share of
shortcomings but there’s still nothing to equal it when it comes to flexibility
and compatibility with all that the Internet has to offer. However, because it
is so widely used it has become a target for hackers and viruses. Security is a
big concern for a lot of people, so make sure that you have the latest Critical
Updates installed either automatically or by regularly visiting the Internet
Explorer homepage on the Microsoft web site at: www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.asp.
(In IE6 auto update is enabled from Internet Option on the Tools menu. Select
the Advanced tab and check the item ‘Automatically check for updates…’.
If you are still using IE versions 4 or 5 it’s worth
considering upgrading to IE6 but only if you are using Windows 98 onwards, and
please read the installation notes first!
Generally speaking Internet Explorer is quite reliable but
when it does go wrong it can bring Windows crashing down around it. Fortunately
most problems are easily resolved, either with the Repair utility, uninstalling
and reinstalling, or reverting to an earlier version (if available). If IE
starts playing up the first thing to do is go to Add/Remove Programs in Control
Panel, double click on Microsoft Internet Explorer and the option to Add, Repair
or Restore will appear.
There’s a lot you can do to improve the way Internet Explorer
looks and functions. Try increasing the area of the desktop by reducing the size
of the toolbars and icons at the top of the screen. Simply right-click onto an
empty area of the toolbar and select Customize. In the Text Options drop-down
menu choose ‘Selective Text on Right’ or ‘No Text Labels’ and underneath, under
Icon Options, choose ‘Small Icons’. You can also use the Customize menu to add
and remove items from the toolbars, or move them to more convenient
Another quick way to increase the size of the desktop – handy
if you can’t see the whole of a web page -- is to press the F11 key, which
toggles the display between a normal and full-screen display.
You probably know that you can bookmark any page by adding it
to your Favourites list, but if you have several web sites that you visit
frequently you can call them up with a single click from an icon on the Links
toolbar (if it’s not showing enable it from the View menu, select Toolbars then
select Links). To add a web site go to the page then drag the icon in the
address field onto the Links toolbar. To remove or shorten the name of a Link
(so you can fit more on the bar) right click on the icon and select Rename or
If you haven’t already done so, get a ‘wheel’ mouse; they
make web surfing so much easier (and they come in useful in many other programs
as well). The wheel lets you scroll up and down through documents far quicker
than using a mouse pointer on the scroll bars on the side of the page. A wheel
mouse has other uses in Internet Explorer; if you have poor eyesight, or you
simply can’t read the tiny words on some web pages, you can resize text ‘on the
fly’ by holding down the Ctrl key and using the wheel to increase or decrease
the font size.
Google (www.google.co.uk) is without doubt the best
search engine on the web, and you can make it even more accessible by adding a
Google Toolbar to your browser. This puts a Google search window on every web
page. You’ll find a link to it on the Google home page under Services and Tools.
There are actually two of them, one reports page links back to Google for
ratings purposes so if you are concerned about privacy I recommend that you
choose the version ‘Without Advanced Features’; it’s fully explained before the
Finally two major gripes, though to be fair only one is
specific to Internet Explorer, and that’s when you click on a page link and
another IE window opens but it’s not maximised. We’ve covered this in the past
and published several solutions but here’s one that seems to work quite well.
Click the link to open a new page and straight away close the first IE window.
Use the mouse to drag the borders of the new window to full screen; do not use
the Maximise button! Finally, hold down the Ctrl key click the Close window ‘X’
in the top right corner of the window.
The other annoyance is pop-up advertisements and banners and
after numerous experiments I finally have them both under control. The best
pop-up stopper I’ve found to date is Free Surfer, there’s no configuration and
it’s free. The latest version can be downloaded from: www.kolumbus.fi/eero.muhonen/FS/Index.html
My firewall program takes care of banner advertising; I use
Agnitum Outpost (freeware www.agnitum.com/products/outpost/).
You have to teach it which sites are downloading the rubbish so watch the bottom
left hand corner of the IE browser window when banner ads are loading look for
web addresses like ‘adclick.com’ ‘doubleclick.net’ and so on. Add these
addresses to Outpost’s Content Blocking list (Options > Plug In Setup >
Content), web pages load faster and a simple message panel replaces the ads.
Next week – Outlook Express Hints & Tips
Downloadable files provided by software companies that fix
problems or security loopholes in programs
sites that seek out information, by topic, keyword or name
Unwanted and unsolicited junk email
TIP OF THE WEEK
If you have several web sites on your Favorites list that
require passwords to access, but you don’t want to them to be automatically
remembered by IE here’s a trick to make them easily accessible, but hidden from
normal view. Open your Favorites list, right-click on the entry for a site that
needs a password and select Rename. Press the space bar a half dozen or so times
to enter in some blank spaces then type in your password; you can jumble or
reverse the order if you’re really cautious. Because of the width of the
Favorites list your password won’t normally be visible but you can show it by
dragging the Favorites list border a few centimetres to the right