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Internet Explorer Tips and Tricks
for Version 7
by Richard O. Johnson
Rev. July 19, 2010
Internet Explorer, despite inroads by Firefox and other browsers, remains users' browser of choice, if only because it comes bundled with all new Windows computers. As the subtitle indicates, these pointers apply to Version 7, although most will apply to other versions, or even other browsers.
Note that I'm not recommending this browser. If you want to use it, however, these tip should be of help.
Use Keyboard Shortcuts
My regular readers will know that to increase efficiency I strongly encourage the use of keyboard shortcuts in preference to the use of the mouse. Here are my favorite IE keyboard shortcuts:
Optimize the Toolbar
Unless you maintain only a dozen or so Favorites, you'll want to take full advantage of the Links option for the IE toolbar. Drag the Favorites you'll want to have most prominent into the Links section of the toolbar. Using the right-click Properties menu of each "Link," you'll probably want to assign it a unique icon and, to save space, rename it to a shorter form.
You should unclutter the toolbar by hiding the Menu Bar and most toolbar buttons. These not only take up space but actually interfere with efficient browsing, by discouraging use of the keyboard shortcuts listed above.
Most likely, the only buttons you'll need are those for Tools, Page, and Print. The Size button would seem to be handy, but its function duplicates that of another button at the right end of the status bar (just above the system clock). Add Feeds if that's of use to you. (Instead of feeds I use a Web app like TrackEngine that sends me updates by email.)
You enable the above recommendations via easily reversible actions using the IE Toolbar's context menu. Just right-click any empty space on the toolbar; then uncheck Menu Bar and check Links. At the bottom of the menu you can enable Customize Command Bar and go to Add or Remove Commands [buttons].
Keep IE Secure
It goes without saying that you need to keep IE fully patched, perhaps with the use of Windows Update or Microsoft Update. But what of the Internet Explorer security settings (accessible via Tools > Internet Options > Security)?
In the "Internet Zone"--the default zone for a webpage--it's prudent to be more rather than less restrictive. (Better safe than sorry!) The easiest way to go is simply to move the "Default Level" slider to High. Or you could use the "Custom Level" to make a determination for each setting. In that case you may want to consult a guide such as the one at http://windowssecrets.com/comp/041118.
Remember that if your security restriction interferes with the proper viewing of a page, Windows will usually let you know--although most often you'll be able to view the page just fine notwithstanding what Windows says. To remove the restriction for a given page, you can add that page to your "Trusted" sites, against which the restriction won't ordinarily apply. Use the "Tools" pull-down menu in the IE toolbar.
An alternative method does not require you to move all such sites to the Trusted zone. For this you'll need the laudable Push the Freakin' Button software, available at modest cost at www.tlhouse.co.uk/PTFB.shtml. With PTFB in place, use IE's Custom Level to choose "Prompt" instead of "Disable" for every feature except any that you're absolutely sure you'll never want to use. Then instruct PTFB to push the "No" (disallow) button when the prompt appears. Should you decide to permit the feature in question, you can with a double click disable PTFB, and just as easily re-enable it when done.
A good (free) test to assess your IE vulnerability may be found at http://snipurl.com/ietest.
Tip Within a Tip: To defeat the alphabetization for a particular Favorite [or Favorites folder] and force it to head the list, start the name with a symbol such as # or !. If you have more than one such in the same folder, you can order them by replicating the symbols. For example, #URL will precede all alphanumeric entries, but will follow ##URL, which in turn will follow ###URL.
Take full advantage of the IE Page menu. A great use of this of this facility is to send a webpage to a friend. The menu will prompt you to press M for Mail and P for Page, after which an outgoing email reproducing the active page will pop up on your screen. You can remove material you don't want to include, and can insert your own message on top.
Use the same procedure to save pages on your hard drive. Creating a Favorite may do you no good if the publisher of the page removes it, or removes the content of interest. To save the page on your hard drive, just send it to yourself! Then in your email program you can set up a folder for such saved pages. Or you may want to send a page to yourself if its content suggests action you'll want to take later (that you can make explicit in your subject line). Note that with this trick you can alter the message as you please--boldface or color certain parts, or eliminate others.
(Another handy use of this procedure is to make pages with tiny type more readable, using the Change Zoom Level button on the lower right f your screen.)
Tip Within a Tip: When sending a page to yourself, routinely include in the subject line the page's Web address (pasted from the address bar). If necessary, precede it with your own brief description of the page's contents. That way, you'll always be able to bring up the current version of the page.
Useful free IE add-ons include: