Exploring your Explorer – Tips for IE5

Although you can work out how to use Explorer in less than an hour, it does have some pretty advanced functions which can make your browsing more convenient, and can save you a few embarrassing moments when your colleagues are around. Here’s our guide to shaping your explorer to suit your preferences.

1. Making room
The default setting for Internet Explorer toolbars is a bit of a waste of space. To gain more space, place your cursor over the bottom of the lowest bar, when it turns into a double arrow drag the bar up to the very top of the screen, this should result in just one bar, with smaller buttons. To turn off the seldom used links bar, right click anywhere on an unpopulated area within the bar, then de-select the Links option in the menu to turn it off.

To get rid of the title bar and give you even more space, press F11. This will make the window go full screen. Pressing F11 again will restore the window to its original size.

To get rid of the top toolbar altogether, giving you the entire window to surf, right click below the toolbar buttons, and click on auto hide. (The tool bar will disappear, you can get it back by moving your mouse to the top of the screen, but this only works in full screen mode.)

2. The content advisor
Explorer has a built in feature to restrict pages containing sex, bad language or violence. Different levels of censorship can be set for each topic on a level of one to five, one being no nudity for example, and five being the kind of gratuitous provocative naked stuff that apparently makes the web go round.

To activate the content advisor, click on the Tools menu, then click on internet options, and select the content folder. In the content advisor section, select ‘enable’ and you will then be able to set the parameters of control and create a password.

3. Getting rid of the evidence.
Picture this, you’ve spent the afternoon reading the articles and downloading the pictures from when suddenly your boss walks in. You quickly close the page, but gasp in horror when he asks you to load up, you type in the first three letters c o n in the address bar and it automatically fills the rest in as You might as well get your coat.

Time to clear your Browser’s history (this is the drop down menu of your address box showing the sites you’ve visited in the past 20 days or so). To do this, click on the Tools menu, then click on internet options, and select the general folder. You can now select the clear history button and reset the number of days it retains previously visited URLs.

While you’re about it select delete files in the temporary internet files section. These files are known as a cache, they are ‘memorised webpages (just in case you may visit them again) which take up lots of disk space (slowing down your browser), and acting as a dead give-away to your surfing activities.

4. Refreshing stale pages
Sometimes your browser is just too clever for its own good. The cache of memorised pages (mentioned in the previous tip) may make it quicker to display a page (rather than having to download it from the internet), but it may not show the updated content of the page. Ensure you select the refresh option on the tool bar regularly. You may find it quicker to press F5.

5. Set your home page
The home page is the page that is first displayed when you start up Internet Explorer. It is usually set by default as your internet service provider’s homepage, but you can easily reset it. To change the home page, first visit the webpage you wish to set as the homepage. Click on tools on the toolbar, then select internet options. In the homepage box, select use current, then click OK.

One popular homepage is This website allows you to donate free food to starving people, simply by clicking on a button. You can only donate once each day, but by making the page your homepage, it makes sure you don’t forget. Try to get the whole office to set the hunger site as their homepage, and start your day knowing that you’ve done a good deed.

6. Tune in, switch off
Tired of the babble of office banter’ Another incredibly useful resource of the internet is the ability to listen to radio stations around the world. Select view on your browser toolbar, and mouse over toolbars to display the various options, now you can launch the radio toolbar by clicking the respective option.Once the radio toolbar is visible you’ll need to select a station by clicking on the radio stations option and selecting radio station guide. This gives you a variety of stations worldwide that can be listed according to format (music type), language, call sign and more. Once you’ve chosen the station, double click and the browser automatically launches the audio link. It may take a few seconds for buffering (which ensures an uninterrupted service), and presto! You could be listening to a Californian talk show, Japanese news or Brazilian salsa. Our favourite is the Norwegian Country and Western station. A word of warning, not all the audio streams work efficiently and you may have to try several different stations before you hear anything. When you’ve found a station you like, don’t forget to bookmark it by selecting Radio Stations from the Radio tool bar and click Add to favourites. Usually, by selecting a station, the browser will launch the station’s corresponding website.

7. Setting a default email option
Quite often, you may find yourself using an ’email us’ option on someone’s website, but when you click on the link, it launches Outlook, while your preferred email application may be Lotus Notes or even Hotmail. You can set the default by selecting Internet options in the tools menu, and clicking on the program folder. Here you can select your preferred email application from the drop down menu, but don’t forget to click the apply button, before closing the dialogue box.

8. Time saving tips
Waiting for ‘graphics heavy’ pages to download can be a pain, one way to speed up the process is to disable the animated gifs. Select Internet options from the tools menu and go to the advanced folder. Now scroll down to the multimedia section and deselect the play animations option. The image will still appear but without resembling a flashing Christmas tree. The same can be done with pictures, video and sound. Occasionally, when downloading a page, your modem connection gets a ‘burp’, and takes ages to display the page. Simply hitting the refresh button usually solves the problem. Another way to untangle your browser is to regularly clear out your cache (see ‘getting rid of evidence’).

9. Lazy URLs
Newer versions of Explorer are very intuitive, and can find the correct URL by recognising a single word which may be typed into the address box. For instance, if you type in Yahoo! and press enter, it will search its database and come up with, not only does it find the most common match, it also redirects you to the UK version of the site (by recognising your IP address). It also adds the www bit and works out whether it’s a .com, or a or .org etc. Some sites are so well known that if you accidentally misspell the name, the browser will automatically take you to the most obvious alternative but it does take a rather long time.

10. Finding a needle in a haystack
Using a search engine to find a website related to a certain subject is usually quite efficient, but once you’ve arrived there, finding an obscure reference to needles on, could require hours of scrolling and reading. But by using the find function (control + F) you can enter a search word or phrase and it will go find it for you, scrolling to the relevant part of the page.

Bonus tip – Importing favourites from Netscape
Using two different browsers gives you the benefit of seeing the best sides of every site (some sites appear to look better in Netscape, by deliberate design), but it gets irritating when a particular URL isn’t in your list of favourites because you’re using the wrong browser. In Explorer, select import/export from the file toolbar option and follow the wizard. It will ask you where you wish to import from, select Netscape from the drop down menu, and proceed.

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