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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:
  • Use Alt-Home to bring up your home page.
  • Use Ctrl-H to open your history pane.
  • Use Ctrl-I to open the Favorites pane.
  • Use Ctrl-D to create a Favorite.
  • Use Ctrl-B to organize your Favorites.
  • Use Ctrl-N to duplicate the active page in a new window.
  • Use Ctrl-F to find a word, partial word, or phrase on the current webpage.
  • Use Backspace (or Alt-Left) instead of the IE Back button, to navigate back.
  • Use Alt-Right to navigate forward.
  • Use F11 to toggle full-screen mode.
  • Use Alt-D to move to the address bar. 
  • Hold down Shift to open a page in a new window.
  • Use Alt-O to open the IE Tools menu.
  • Use Alt-P to open the IE Page menu.
  • Use Alt-R to open the Print menu  
  • Use Space to choose the suggested selection (indicated by a broken line around the perimeter of the button that otherwise you'd click). 
  • Once in the address bar, use Enter to bring up the specified webpage or Ctrl-Enter to first surround what you've typed with "www." before and ".com" after, and then bring it up.
    • Note: The Ctrl-Enter shortcut will not work if IE's Autocomplete is turned off for Web addresses. You can turn on this setting via the Content tab of the Internet Options dialog, accessible via Tools on the IE toolbar.
  • Use F5 or Ctrl-F5 to refresh a page. It's a good idea when refreshing to routinely hold down Ctrl (whether you're using the keyboard or the mouse), to bypass the IE cache and give you a more effective refresh.
  • Use F1 to open the Help screen.
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.
Tip 1: You can squeeze additional Favorites into your Links bar by creating within the Links folder one or more new folders to hold those Favorites. (In Windows Explorer, navigate to the Links Folder under Favorites in the Windows folder, and then choose New in the File menu.) Doing so will create a new "Link" with a handy drop-down menu. To identify the new Link by a unique icon, use a program such as Folder Style.
 
Tip 2: You can save additional space by shortening the "Links" title on the toolbar. Unfortunately, simply renaming the "Links" folder won't work. You'll need to open the Registry Editor, by choosing Run from the Start menu and typing regedit. After pressing Enter, drill down to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Internet Explorer > Toolbar. On the right-hand side you'll see LinksFolderName="Links." Change the word within the quotation marks to a one-character name you'd like to use instead, perhaps "!" or "+," and close the Editor. (Use extreme caution, as making a wrong entry in the Registry Editor can have dire consequences!)
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.
 
Other Tips
  1. To execute a link in a new window, hold down Shift.

  2. Alphabetize your Favorites. With version 7 you can do this directly, on the Favorites sidebar. Use right click + B on any Favorite (if your Favorites are not organized into Folders), or on any Favorite in the Folder you wish to alphabetize. You may have to repeat this procedure every time you rename a Favorite. (To rename, use right-click +M.)

    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.

  3. 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.
     
Add-ons
 
Useful free IE add-ons include:
  • Google Toolbar, at toolbar.google.com, which enables too many useful features to even hint at here. Highly recommended.
  • Quero Toolbar, at www.quero.at. Another search bar, with additional useful features. It lets you execute your search in a variety of search engines, and includes one of the best pop-up blockers available. Usable also as an address bar, it includes an option to replace IE's (taking much less space!).
  • Favorites Search, at www.dzsoft.com, which lets you speedily locate a Favorite, no matter how many you've stored.
  • Y!Q DemoBar, at yq.search.yahoo.com/splash/demobar.html, which enables context-based searching. Like the Quero bar, it takes practically no space.
  • ieSpell, at www.iespell.com, which will quickly spellcheck all the text you've entered in any Web form. (But you won't need it if you have the Google Toolbar!)
  • MakeoButton, at www.snapfiles.com/get/makobutton.html, which will let you fit more buttons onto the IE toolbar. These buttons can open documents and applications (not just websites) and don't require space-consuming displayed names. Change the order of these buttons with the Customize Command Bar instruction accessible from the toolbar's right-click menu.

Your feedback is appreciated! Please use this form.
 
Richard Johnson is a writer and editor, and founder/administrator of NotBarter.com, a 34-year-old membership organization.
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