Clean up and reset Internet Explorer


Internet Explorer does not dominate the web browser market like it used to, but it is still very popular and is used by a lot of people. However, it is easy to install extensions and toolbars and this makes it a target for software. Install some freeware from the internet and it could modify Internet Explorer’s home page, search engine, toolbar and more. How do you clean up and reset IE and restore it to health?

I get asked this a lot and often end up repeating the same instructions, so here is the method you need to use. Bookmark it, you might need it one day.

Uninstall software

The first thing to do is to go to Programs and Features (Add or Remove Programs in XP) in the Control Panel. If you are a Windows 8 user and don’t know how to get to the Control Panel, just type ‘Control Panel’ on the Start screen and click it in the search results panel that appears.

Look through the list of programs for anything that might be related to Internet Explorer, such as a toolbar or other add-on, and uninstall it.

Manage add-ons

Start Internet Explorer on the desktop, click the gear icon, and click Manage Add-ons. Select Toolbars and Extensions on the left and in the Show list, select All add-ons. Examine the list of items and look for items that you don’t need.

  Internet Explorer add-ons

This list could contain so many different items I cannot be specific about what to look for. If you have a problem, such as a toolbar, pop-up adverts, or other issues with IE, look in the Name and Publisher columns for suspicious items.

Don’t worry about any Microsoft items in the list, just look at non-Microsoft items carefully. Select an item and click the Disable button below.

Next, select Search Providers on the left. This is the search engine that is used when you enter a search word or phrase into the address box. (You don’t need to go to Google or Bing first.) Only one search provider is needed, so select the one you want and click the button below to make it the default. You can then select the others in turn and use the Remove button below.

 Search providers in Internet Explorer

There is a useful option here, Prevent programs from suggesting changes to my default search provider. Tick the box to add a bit of protection for your default search engine setting.

Select Accelerators on the left and select any you do not want and click the Remove button below.

Internet Options

Close the Manage Add-ons window, go to the gear menu in Internet Explorer and select Internet Options.

On the General tab, select the option to start with the home page. In the Home Page section, delete all the URLs and enter the one you want, such as Click the Tabs button half way down and in the next window, tick Open only the first home page when Internet Explorer starts. This will prevent multiple tabs from opening.

 Internet Options in Internet Explorer

Just below, where it says When a new tab is opened, open: Select your favourite option. Mine is The new tab page, but you might want either the blank page or your home page.

 Internet Explorer settings

A useful option here is the Restore defaults button at the bottom. Close the window after using it to return to Internet Options. Select the Security tab and click the Default level button (if you can’t, then the default level is already set). Click the Default button on the Privacy tab too,

Finally, select the Advanced tab and click the two buttons – Restore advanced settings, and Reset.

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 Fix Internet Explorer

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