Customizing Internet Explorer

Learn how to customize Internet Explorer 11 so the browser looks and functions how you want it to.

Customizing Internet Explorer

If you want your browser to feel a bit more personal, it's easy to customize Internet Explorer. In this lesson, we'll talk about different ways you can modify Internet Explorer, including startup options and add-ons, which allow you to add new functions to the browser.

Choosing your startup options

To choose a homepage:

By default, Internet Explorer will show www.msn.com whenever you start the browser. If you want to see a specific website every time you open your browser (like a news site or weather forecast), you can set that site as your homepage.

  1. Click the Tools button in the top-right corner of the browser, then select Internet options.
    screenshot of Internet Explorer 11
  2. The Internet Options dialog box will appear. Under homepage, delete the default link and type the URL for the desired homepage, then click OK.
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  3. Your homepage will appear whenever you start Internet Explorer. Click the Home button to visit your homepage at any time.
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If there are certain pages you use every time you open your browser, like your email or calendar, you might consider making them all homepages. Each homepage will open in its own tab whenever you start Internet Explorer. Just enter the URL of each desired homepage on a new line in the homepage text box, then click OK.

screenshot of Internet Explorer 11

To set Internet Explorer as the default browser:

Internet Explorer is the default browser for computers using Windows 8.1 and earlier. If you click a link in another program on your computer, like an email client, it will open in Internet Explorer. If you've set another web browser as the default, you can choose to switch back to Internet Explorer.

We recommend keeping Microsoft Edge as your default browser if you are using Windows 10.

  1. Click the Tools button in the top-right corner of the browser, then select Internet Options.
  2. The Internet Options dialog box will appear. Select the Programs tab.
    screenshot of Internet Explorer 11
  3. Locate and select Make Internet Explorer the default browser, then click OK. Any link you open on your computer will now open in Internet Explorer.
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Internet Explorer add-ons

Add-ons add different functionality to Internet Explorer. For example, add-ons can add new search engines to the address bar, block ads, and keep you updated on current events.

To install an add-on:

  1. Click the drop-down menu in the address bar, then select the Add button in the bottom-right of the menu.
    screenshot of Internet Explorer 11
  2. The Internet Explorer Gallery will appear. Click search providers on the left, then select the type of add-on you're looking for.
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  3. Select an add-on to learn more about it.
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  4. You'll be taken to a page with more information on the add-on. If you want to install it, click Add to Internet Explorer.
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It's important to note that add-ons are not necessarily created or approved by Microsoft. Many are created by third-party providers or even individual users, so they may not always be safe to install. We recommend reading user reviews carefully before installing an add-on.

Accelerators and web slices

Accelerators and web slices are types of add-ons that are available for Internet Explorer. Accelerators allow you to translate, search for, or map text you've selected in the browser. Web slices give you real-time updates for specific websites in your Favorites bar. For example, you could use a web slice to get quick updates on sports scores or the weather forecast.

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In our experience, web slices don't work consistently and aren't available for many websites, so their usefulness may be limited.

To manage add-ons:

If you don't like an add-on, the Manage Add-ons feature allows you to disable or remove it from Internet Explorer.

  1. Click the Tools button in the top-right corner of the browser, then select Manage add-ons.
    screenshot of Internet Explorer 11
  2. The Manage Add-ons dialog box will appear.
    screenshot of Internet Explorer 11
  3. Select the type of add-on you want to manage on the left. A list of installed add-ons of that type will appear. From here, they can be temporarily disabled or removed.
    screenshot of Internet Explorer 11