Internet Explorer isn’t the most popular browser, and Microsoft has stopped adding new features to it. Yet it’s still used by many today. Whether you’re forced to use it for work or just love Internet Explorer for personal reasons, you should know how to use it effectively.
Here, we’ve gathered some frequently asked questions about Internet Explorer (IE). Read on to find easy answers for some of the most important functions of the browser.
1. What Is the Latest Version of Internet Explorer?
The newest (and last) version of Internet Explorer is version 11. Only Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 users have access to IE 11. Microsoft has dropped support for all other IE versions, affecting older versions of Windows where IE 11 isn’t available. For example, Internet Explorer 8 is the latest update of IE available for Windows XP, making that an insecure browser choice.
At the time of writing, the full version number for IE on Windows 10 is 11.64.16299.0.
2. What Version of Internet Explorer Do I Have?
It’s easy to check which version of Internet Explorer you’re using:
- Open Internet Explorer.
- Click the Settings gear in the upper-right corner of the browser.
- Select About Internet Explorer.
- You’ll see your current version number displayed in a new dialog box.
If you don’t see the Settings icon, you’re either using an old version of IE or have customized the toolbars. In that case, select the Help tab from the menu bar in the top-left (tap the Alt key to show this bar if you don’t see it), then choose About Internet Explorer.
3. How to Update Internet Explorer
Assuming you don’t have any issues affecting Windows Update, your computer should update Internet Explorer automatically. Microsoft delivers both major and minor updates through Windows Update, so IE doesn’t have a built-in updater like other browsers. You can always check for updates manually to grab the latest IE patches.
Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 users already have IE 11 because it shipped with those versions of Windows. If you’re running Windows 7, you can download the latest version of IE directly from Microsoft to bypass Windows Update. Those running the unsupported Windows 8 should upgrade to Windows 8.1 as soon as possible for its many security and usability benefits.
If you’re running Windows Vista or earlier, you won’t get any further updates for Internet Explorer. IE 9 is the last version of IE that works on Vista, and Windows XP only supports IE 8.
4. How to Make Internet Explorer Your Default Browser
If you want to make Internet Explorer the captain for your voyages around the web, you can set it as your default browser. This means that when you click on links and other supported file types, IE will open instead of another browser on your PC.
Here’s how to set IE as your default browser:
- Open IE and select the Settings gear icon in the top right.
- Select Internet Options.
- Choose the Programs tab at the top.
- Select Make Internet Explorer the default browser.
Depending on which version of Windows you’re on, this could result in a few different actions. If you see text that says Internet Explorer is the default browser, then click OK and you’re all set. Instead, if you see the Set Default Programs Control Panel page, select Internet Explorer on the left sidebar and then choose Set this program as default.
On Windows 10, you can also set defaults in the Settings app. Visit Settings > Apps > Default apps, select the Web browser category, then choose Internet Explorer.
5. How to Change the Homepage on Internet Explorer
Your homepage is the first page (or set of pages) you see when you open a new IE window or click the Home button. What you choose here is up to you — try one of the best sites on the web if you don’t have any ideas.
To change your homepage, do the following:
- Open Internet Explorer, click the Settings gear, and select Internet Options.
- Select the General tab.
- Under the Home page field, enter the URL for the page you want to set as home. If you want multiple homepages, enter each URL on its own line.
- Click Use current to populate the fields with your current tabs. The Use default button will set it to MSN, or you can Use new tab to keep it simple.
6. How to Clear Cookies in Internet Explorer
Cookies are little bits of information that websites use to keep track of your individual browsing. They enable those Keep me logged in boxes, but can also be used to track you.
While you probably don’t want to clear cookies all the time (so you don’t have to keep logging in), removing them once in a while is easy to do:
- Open Internet Explorer and select the Settings gear, then click Internet Options.
- On the General tab, select the Delete… button under the Browsing history section.
- You’ll see a new window with several types of data you can remove. To clear only cookies, uncheck everything except Cookies and website data and click Delete.
- Leave the Preserve Favorites website data if you’d like to keep cookies for sites you’ve bookmarked.
To automate this process, check out how to automatically clear your cookies and other history.
7. How to Clear Cache in Internet Explorer
Browser cache is saved data that Internet Explorer keeps so that it doesn’t have to re-download assets all the time. For instance, if you visit a website with a large banner at the top of every page, your browser caches this so it can display it more quickly.
To clear the cache, which can help fix one-off issues with a specific website, you must visit the same menu as for clearing cookies above. We’ll provide an alternative method this time:
- Select the Settings gear on Internet Explorer’s toolbar, then choose Safety > Delete browsing history… as a shortcut to the deletion page. You can also use the Ctrl + Shift + Del keyboard shortcut.
- Clear all boxes except for Temporary internet files and website files, then click Delete.
- Remember you can keep Preserve Favorites website data checked to avoid clearing the cache for your bookmarked pages.
8. How to Enable Cookies in Internet Explorer
While clearing cookies can help protect your privacy, disabling cookies can prevent some websites from working properly.
If you have any issues related to cookies, check the following IE settings to make sure you have cookies enabled:
- Select Settings > Internet Options from the IE toolbar.
- Choose the Privacy tab.
- Under Settings, click the Advanced button. Here, you can choose whether to Accept, Block, or Prompt for both first-party and third-party cookies. First-party cookies are from the website you’re visiting, while third-party cookies are from another entity (usually an advertiser). Select Accept to enable all cookies, or Prompt and IE will ask you what to do each time, though this will probably get irritating.
- Check the Always allow session cookies to allow cookies that disappear when you close your browser.
- Finally, click the Sites button on the Privacy tab to make sure you haven’t blocked all cookies from a particular domain.
9. How to Uninstall Internet Explorer
You can’t remove Internet Explorer as you would most other Windows software. That’s because Microsoft considers it a Windows component. Thus, you have to remove it via the Windows features menu.
Here’s how to uninstall Internet Explorer:
- Type Windows features into the Start Menu and select the Turn Windows features on or off option that appears.
- In the resulting dialogue, scroll down until you see Internet Explorer 11. Uncheck its box, then click OK.
- Give Windows a few moments to remove IE, then you’ll see a prompt to restart your computer and complete the operation. Reboot, and say goodbye to IE.
Note that if you’re on Windows 7 or 8.1 and don’t have another browser installed, you’ll have no way to browse the web once IE is gone. Thus, you should use Internet Explorer to download Chrome, Firefox, or another browser before you remove IE. Windows 10 users have Microsoft Edge, so this isn’t a concern for them.
Ready to Use Internet Explorer Like a Pro?
We’ve covered the biggest questions users have about working in Internet Explorer. Now you don’t have to remain in the dark when something about IE puzzles you. Since Microsoft is only maintaining the browser now, you thankfully won’t have to deal with any major changes that render these instructions obsolete.
If you’re having a specific issue with Internet Explorer, check out our IE troubleshooting guide.
Do you use Internet Explorer by force or by choice? What keeps you using it when there are so many alternatives available? Tell us in the comments!
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