Internet Windows

8 Most Common Internet Explorer Issues (And Easy Ways to Fix Them)

Ben Stegner Updated 22-05-2020

After being the subject of jokes and hated for years, Internet Explorer has largely moved into obscurity now. Microsoft still includes Internet Explorer 11 (the final version) with Windows 10, but it’s more for compatibility reasons than anything else.

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However, you might sometimes find yourself in situations where you have to use Internet Explorer. Let’s look at quick fixes for common Internet Explorer issues so your time with the aging browser isn’t a hassle.

1. Internet Explorer Is Not in Active Development

Before we address specific Internet Explorer problems and fixes, we have to cover the obvious. While Microsoft maintains it on supported versions of Windows, Internet Explorer is an old browser that the company no longer actively develops. Due to a lack of modern features and an aging configuration, Internet Explorer 11 is increasingly insufficient for today’s web.

Because of this, we don’t recommend that you use Internet Explorer unless you absolutely have to. It’s mainly included with Windows 10 as a backward compatibility tool, as many internal business websites require Internet Explorer to work properly. Unless you come across such a site, you’ll be much better off using Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Microsoft’s revamped Edge, or even an open source browser The 7 Best Open-Source Web Browsers Which open source web browser should you use if you're worried about privacy and proprietary software? Here are the best picks. Read More .

Below, we’ll cover a few common problems with Internet Explorer. If you can’t solve any of them easily, don’t waste your time—just use something else.

2. Basic Internet Explorer Troubleshooting: Updates Not Installed

IE 11 About Page

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As mentioned, Internet Explorer doesn’t receive updates often. However, on the off chance that Microsoft fixed a known problem with Internet Explorer recently, you should check for updates before you start more focused troubleshooting.

On Windows 10, the browser receives updates through Windows Update, since it’s a component of the OS. Head to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update to check for the latest updates, and apply any that appear here.

3. Can’t Find Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer comes with Windows 10 by default. To open it, just search for Internet Explorer on the Start menu. If it doesn’t appear there, press Win + R to open the Run box and type iexplore.exe.

Should you see an error message or have Internet Explorer fail to load, it’s likely that you (or another administrator on your computer) disabled it. Perhaps they didn’t want anyone using the old browser unnecessarily.

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To activate Internet Explorer again, type Windows features into the Start menu and select Turn Windows features on or off. In the list that appears, scroll down and check Internet Explorer 11 if it’s not already. Click OK, wait for the process to complete, then restart your PC. It should then be available.

Enable IE 11

4. Error 404 in Internet Explorer

Error 404 means that the page you’re trying to visit doesn’t exist. Usually, this happens because you mistyped a URL or clicked on a link that leads to a dead page; it’s rarely a problem with IE.

When this happens, press F5 to refresh the page and make sure it’s not a temporary issue. If you manually typed the URL, double-check to confirm you didn’t make any mistakes. After checking those, try searching for the page using Google.

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If it doesn’t appear from searching, chances are that the page no longer exists. Try accessing it from another browser, or a different device like your phone. If that works, try clearing your browser cache How to Manually & Automatically Clear Your Browser History The websites you visit leave tracks on your computer. We show you how to delete your browsing history in Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and Internet Explorer. Read More in IE.

5. Internet Explorer Crashes, Freezes, or Hangs

A lot of Internet Explorer troubleshooting revolves around poor performance. To address these problems, you should first run the Internet Explorer Performance troubleshooter.

To access this, search for control panel in the Start menu to open it. If you see Category in the top-right, click this to change it to Small icons. Next, select Troubleshooting, followed by View all at the top-left.

In the resulting menu, double-click on Internet Explorer Performance. Before you start, click the Advanced link and choose Run as administrator for best results.

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Internet Explorer Performance Troubleshooter

Once the troubleshooter completes, it shows you any completed actions that it took. Hopefully, these will resolve your Internet Explorer problem.

Toggling hardware acceleration can also help with these issues. This option uses your PC’s graphics card (instead of the CPU) to handle graphics-extensive tasks, such as streaming video. Most of the time it’s better to keep it enabled, but you can try toggling it to see if it makes a difference.

To change this, click the gear icon at the top-right of Internet Explorer (which represents the Tools menu), followed by Internet options. Select the Advanced tab at the top, then check the box for Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering. Click OK, then you’ll need to restart your PC for the change to take effect.

Internet Explorer Use Software Rendering

Further Performance Troubleshooting

Browser add-ons can often interfere with performance. Click the gear icon and choose Manage add-ons to review the ones you have enabled and try turning off any that you don’t need. As another troubleshooting step, you can also run Internet Explorer without any add-ons and see if that improves anything.

To do this, close all Internet Explorer windows first. Then press Win + R to open the Run dialog, enter iexplore.exe -extoff, and hit Enter. See if IE performs better with no extensions running.

Internet Explorer No Add Ons

If all else fails, you should try a complete reset of Internet Explorer. This sets everything back to its default state so you can start from a clean slate. Before proceeding, we recommend saving anything you want to keep from Internet Explorer, such as backing up your bookmarks How to Manage Years of Browser Bookmarks: 5 Steps to Tidiness Have hundreds or thousands of bookmarks that you need to get under control? Follow this step-by-step process to get organized. Read More .

To reset IE, go to Tools > Internet options > Advanced and click the Reset button at the bottom. You’ll see a warning letting you know what this process will do. It resets all your settings, but won’t remove personal content like your homepage, history, and saved form data.

Check the Delete personal settings box if you want to erase this content as well.

After you click Reset, you’ll need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

6. Internet Explorer Display Issues

If a website doesn’t look like you expect, such as appearing blank, images not displaying, broken or jumbled text, or misplaced menus, there could be some compatibility issues between IE and the website.

This can often occur due to Compatibility View, a feature designed to help display websites built for ancient versions of IE. To check, click Compatibility View settings from the Tools menu. The current website will show in the Add this website box; click Add to display it using Compatibility View.

On the flip side, if the site looks wrong and it’s on the Compatibility View list, click it and choose Remove. You should never need to use Compatibility View Unless a website was specifically built for IE 8 or older, which is rare these days.

IE Compatibility View

Internet Explorer’s Tracking Protection feature, which reduces website tracking for your privacy, can also interfere with content. To turn off Tracking Protection, select Manage add-ons from the Tools menu. Choose Tracking Protection from the left sidebar, then right-click on each item in the list and choose Disable.

IE Tracking protection

You can also try clearing your browser cache, as mentioned in section #4 above. Head to Tools > Internet options > General and click Delete under Browsing history.

Display issues can also be caused by hardware acceleration, as mentioned above. Try toggling that setting if you haven’t already.

7. Videos Won’t Play in Internet Explorer

If you can’t get a video to play in IE, try using another browser. Most video uses HTML5 these days, which works in every modern browser. When a specific video won’t play, it probably relies on a feature that IE lacks.

If you really need to watch it in IE, check your add-ons to check for conflicts, as described above.

8. Can’t See Any Pictures in Internet Explorer

You can try all the previously mentioned solutions for this problem, such as Compatibility View, turning off Tracking Protection, and clearing temporary internet files. However, there’s actually a setting that disables all pictures in Internet Explorer. It’s a simple fix if you’ve run into this issue.

Browse to Tools > Internet options > Advanced. Scroll down to the Multimedia header and make sure that Show pictures is checked.

IE Show Pictures

If this is checked, you may want to reset Internet Explorer’s security settings. While in Internet options, click the Security tab and you’ll see several “zones” at the top (most sites fall into the Internet zone). Simply click Reset all zones to default level and restart your PC to put everything back to normal.

Should this all fail, reset IE to its default settings as explained above.

IE Is Old, So Issues Aren’t Surprising

Now you know how to respond when Internet Explorer isn’t working properly. Hopefully, you almost never have to use it and thus don’t run into many problems. Again, since the browser is far from modern, these problems can definitely occur. We urge you to use another browser when at all possible.

In case you’re stuck with IE for a while longer, check out our Internet Explorer FAQ for more help The Internet Explorer FAQ for the Die Hards Have a question about how to use Internet Explorer? Check out our ultimate FAQ for answers on how to check for updates, clear cookies, and more. Read More .

Related topics: Internet Explorer, Troubleshooting, Windows Tips.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Janis
    November 29, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    I can get into the Patent Office website but when I go to place an order for a certified copy a window appears and it says "Internet Explorer has modified this page to help prevent cross-site scripting" and therefore I cannot place my order.

  2. Pam
    September 10, 2017 at 11:59 pm

    All I'm wanting to do is find out why my skype disconnected my phone call and now wont work. Technical support wants about $50 to help. I think skype should offer support free since u are already paying for their service. I cant seem to find any technical support anywhere from skype directly, only indirect support. Any suggestions? Thank u.

  3. David G Dawson
    April 7, 2017 at 6:18 am

    Have uninstalled Internet Explorer because of multitude problems and as instructed to do so by Microsoft and now unable to reinstall IE 11 due to this problem:
    "Setup can't continue because a more recent version of Internet Explorer is installed on your Computer".
    I have attempted to find what remains but nothing obvious and unable to find any solution that works as I have been through them all including installing Oracle Virtual Box but arrive at the same problem.
    Can you assist please as old stored html data is redirected to IE by Firefox or Chrome and nothing works.
    System is Windows 7.

    David G

  4. Liza
    October 4, 2016 at 9:09 am

    What about the problems surrounding history and cookies? That seems to be missing in this article because there has never before been a fix out there. Just curious, how do people manage their webcachev01.dat file at the moment?

  5. Richard
    August 17, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I get an IE dialog box immediately after opening IE11, it asks me to choose my home page and search settings, options are Microsoft settings or current settings. Can choose either one, but click on the "Done" button & nothing happens. IE hangs, can't do anything except end it with task manager. This is a recent problem. Turning IE off & back on in Windows Features does not help.

    • Greg
      August 24, 2016 at 8:52 pm

      I get this error as well, I can use system restore and take it back about 1 month but then it comes back after less than a day.

      • corey
        August 31, 2016 at 8:05 pm

        is there a fix to this?

  6. ajit lele
    March 21, 2016 at 11:12 am

    WHENEVER I OPEN IE11, IT GOES TO DIALOGUE BOX FOR 'saving downloads'!! cannot open a blank tab !!

  7. Roger Stone
    January 31, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    I'm just trying to find out how to close the immersive browser. There's no little red X hidden in the top corner. Grab top edge and slam down doesn't work. There's no help screen, no instructions.

    I didn't ask to be thrown in this deep end, I was quite happy where I was. If you're going to do this to your customers, Microsoft, at least give us a warning. "Dear user, we are about to upgrade your experience, take away all the controls you're accustomed to, and not tell you how to operate the new environment. Enjoy!"

  8. Anonymous
    September 17, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    Something that bothers me--when you talk about disabling GPU rendering, the instructions say: "Click OK and restart Internet Explorer for the change to take effect." HOWEVER, there's an asterisk behind the instruction, and the instruction CLEARLY states:

    "Takes effect AFTER YOU RESTART YOUR COMPUTER."

    So, just closing, and re-starting Internet Explorer will NOT disable GPU rendering. (Caps, BTW, are for emphasis only).

  9. Shari Lu
    May 29, 2015 at 2:20 am

    I don't see my actual issues on here. I just downloaded the latest IE version as well as Java and Adobe Flash updates and any current patches. IE continues to: 1) frequently give me the window that says "Internet Explorer has encountered a problem and has to close" and then it just boots back up 2)after using IE for about 15-20 minutes the bars at the top of the screen look all wonky and it doesn't work right. Has anyone else had these problems and what is the fix? Thanks!

  10. Leon
    May 5, 2015 at 9:25 am

    My problem with IE 11 in Win 8.1.1 64bit is that I simple cann't delete any link from Favorites bar. When I try, IE crashes. Trying to find answer at microsoft support site, but they told me to clean links from Favorites menu. OK, that way is working, but from Favorite Bar, never. From beginning, at Win 8.0 until now.

  11. Mike Merritt
    May 4, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    Press "ALT" if necessary, then from "File" on the top ToolBar; check "Work OnLine/OffLine" in the drop-down - Toggle it if necessary; or just exercise it. Believe it or not, Windows Live Mail toggles this flag and you have to go here to IE to reset it. Doy ....

  12. Saajan
    May 4, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    Well in Chrome you can use IE Tab which is more stable than IE itself. i totally boycott the IE since 2012.

  13. dragonmouth
    May 4, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    Maybe if IE was W3 Standards compliant, there wouldn't be so many problems with it.

    • Sage Gwatkin
      May 5, 2015 at 12:30 am

      this 100%, as a web developer half my time is spent 'porting' my applications and sites for IE compatibility.
      extremely frustrating.

  14. James Bruce
    May 4, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Can also be fixed by installing Chrome :)

    • michel
      May 4, 2015 at 5:06 pm

      Yeah, that joke's pretty tired. Chrome also has its problems, as does Firefox. I have to use all three browsers because they all fail at something.

    • mist
      May 4, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      Chrome has become worst than IE. The newest IE works great, I use it on my tablet. Firefox is the best though because its customizable..

    • likefunbutnot
      May 5, 2015 at 12:19 am

      @James Bruce,

      As someone who handles desktop support, I've also found that recent builds of Chrome for Windows are actually worse than IE. I have a strong preference for Firefox, in part because it has a better addon ecosystem, particularly for privacy and security, and in part because it's a lot easier to clean up and maintain for end users than the ridiculous mess of hidden settings and file locations that Chrome offers.

    • Anonymous
      May 5, 2015 at 3:39 am

      Great advice

    • Fred
      May 10, 2015 at 6:41 pm

      biggest problem, can't download adobe flash player

  15. likefunbuntot
    May 4, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    Adblock Plus is now available for IE6+ (yes, it even works with un-updated Windows XP machines). Since using IE pre-10.0 as XP and Vista are forced to do is a recipe for getting every kind of herpes on the Internet, ABP is basically the best single defensive step one can take for keeping a computer safe. I'd say it's more valuable than any other single security application.

    It would be better if it had feature parity with other versions, but under its Add-on settings, users can disable even ads from un-obtrusive sites, which basically means Google ads.

    IE is compatible with A9 search plugins. The biggest repository of those that I know of is The Mycroft Project, so if you'd like to ditch Bing in favor of something that isn't terrible at search, or if you'd actually like to make the address bar useful for searching, all your needs are right there.

    Finally, because it frightens and confuses some of my end users when they activate it on accident, here's how to disable fullscreen browsing.