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Internet Explorer has come a long way since IE6, and you may have started using it again after reading one of the very convincing accounts of how Internet Explorer has greatly improved. However, technology will always have problems and glitches no matter the brand or how much it has improved.
Here are some of the most common problems you may encounter with IE and quick and easy solutions for fixing them. Some of the troubleshooting methods may overlap from problem to problem. So in order to prevent redundancy, I will reference to a previous section in which that was discussed already.
1. Always Check for Latest Updates
I know you may have heard this advice a hundred times, but seriously, before you ever try to troubleshoot anything in depth, quickly run Windows update to check for any missing updates. Even if you have Windows set to automatically install updates, there could be optional updates that haven’t been installed. In versions before Windows 8, go to the Start Menu and type check for updates.
In Windows 8 and 8.1, go to the Start Screen and start typing check for updates.
2. Trouble Viewing Web Page in IE App
If you’re using Windows 8.1 and browsing via the IE app (otherwise known as Immersive Browser), you may experience pages saying “You’re not connected”. The easiest way to test if this is an issue with the app itself is to view the same webpage in the desktop browser.
In the bottom right corner, click the “wrench” icon and then click View in the desktop. This will open the page in the IE desktop browser. If it works, you’ve narrowed down your problem to the Immersive Browser and probably need to update it.
3. 404 Error: Page Cannot Be Displayed
If you’re experiencing 404 errors, but you know the webpage exists and you are connected to the Internet, try resetting Internet Explorer. Go to the Tools “gear” icon and click Internet options. Under the Advanced tab, click Reset. When the Reset Internet Explorer Settings dialog box appears, click Reset. Internet Explorer will apply the default settings. Click Close and then OK. You will need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.
4. Crashes, Freezes, or Hangs
There are several ways to address these problems. The first is running Internet Explorer Performance troubleshooter. Search and click Troubleshooting. At the top of the left menu, click View All, then Internet Explorer Performance.
There is an Advanced link which displays the option to Run as administrator. I always suggest this when searching for problems since admin rights can yield more accurate results. Make sure the checkbox Apply repairs automatically is checked, click Next and follow the rest of the instructions.
Turning off hardware acceleration can also help. Hardware acceleration uses your PC’s graphics card to accelerate graphics-extensive tasks, such as streaming video or playing online games.
In Internet Explorer, click the “gear” Tools button in the top right corner, then click Internet Options on the menu. Select the Advanced tab, then check the box for Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering. Click OK and restart Internet Explorer for the change to take effect.
Add-ons can often interfere with the browser’s performance. The best way to determine if this is the case is to temporarily disable them. Unfortunately, going to Manage Add-ons and disabling them means you have to go back and manually enable them, as there will be some you will already have disabled. This would be very time-consuming.
There’s a better way. Open the Run box (Windows Key + R) and type iexplore.exe -extoff and hit Enter (Surprisingly, this method wasn’t found on Microsoft’s IE troubleshooting page).
If all else fails, you can do a complete reset of Internet Explorer, mentioned previously in the “404 Error” section. As previously stated, this will return it to the beginning state in which it was first installed on your computer. It’d be a good idea to back up your bookmarks and any saved passwords/web forms you have.
5. Display Issues
If a website isn’t looking like you would expect it to, such as appearing blank, images not displaying, broken or jumbled text, or out of place menus, there could be some compatibility issues between IE and the website. A quick solution might be adding this site to the Compatibility View list. In Internet Explorer, click the Tools “gear” button and then Compatibility View settings. The site you’re currently on will automatically display in the text field, so all you do is click the Add button and close the window.
If you’re still having issues, you can also try turning off hardware acceleration, mentioned in the previous section.
Did you turn on Tracking Protection for that site previously? Though there are benefits to it, it may also interfere with content. To turn off Tracking Protection, click the Tools “gear” button and Manage add-ons. Tracking Protection is the last option in the left column titled Add-on Types. Then right-click on the list and click Disable.
You can also try clearing your browser cache, otherwise known as temporary Internet files. Note that this will also delete your Compatibility View list. Click the Tools “gear” icon, then Internet options. On the General tab, under Browsing history click Delete. Select the check box Temporary Internet files and website files and click Delete.
6. Videos Won’t Play
The video you’re trying to play may require an add-on that you don’t have in your browser. If you’re having trouble playing videos in the Internet Explorer app (what Microsoft calls Immersive Browser), then you can try watching the video in the desktop browser by clicking the Page tools “wrench” button in the bottom right corner and clicking View in the desktop.
If you’re already using the desktop browser, make sure first you aren’t viewing the website using InPrivate Browsing as it might block info or add-ons required for playing the video.
Viewing the website with Compatibility View can also correct the problem. This method is covered previously in the “Display Issues” section of this article.
7. Can’t See Any Pictures
You can try all the previously-mentioned solutions for this problem such as Compatibility View, turning off Tracking Protection and clearing temporary Internet files, but first make sure that Internet Explorer is set to show pictures. It’s simple fixes like this that make us scratch our heads how we didn’t think of this sooner… and how it got unchecked in the first place.
Go to the Tools “gear” button, click Internet options, the Advanced tab and scroll down to Multimedia. Make sure the checkbox (last one) that says Show pictures is checked.
If this is checked, you can reset Internet Explorer’s security settings. While in Internet Options, click the Security tab and click Default level. Note that this button will be grayed out if Enable Protected Mode is checked. Uncheck it, click Default level and restart your PC.
Last case scenario if none of these work is resetting IE to its default settings, previously mentioned in the “404 Error” section above.
Pitch in Your Internet Explorer Advice
Of course, there are always problems with technology and we can’t possibly cover all of them in one article, though we tried to provide quick solutions to the common issues that IE users have run into.
What have you done to make Internet Explorer work for you? Have you had a problem you found was common among IE users? What solution did you discover to fix it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.