Internet Explorer 8 Fixes: Privacy and Efficiency

Remove your history, prevent coloring of tabs, start from the InPrivateBrowsing mode, and other helps tips for Internet Explorer 8.


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Posted September 10, 2009

Eric Geier

Eric Geier

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Microsoft has made a number of changes to their Web browser with the release of Internet Explorer 8. Though they have good intentions, you may find some new features may be more of an annoyance than helpful. In this article, we'll review some of these possible annoyances and their fixes.

Remove the history and favorites from the address bar results

In earlier versions of Internet Explorer (IE), as you type an address, it would list matching URLs of sites as you type. Then you could select the desired URL without having to type the full address. As you've probably noticed, Microsoft has added your browsing history and favorites to the AutoComplete feature of the address bar in IE 8.

I think Microsoft had good intentions, but I don't care for the new AutoComplete functionality. It can cause some confusion by listing expired pages for account-based sites and irrelevant results. It can also be a privacy problem, as it shows page titles in addition to the simple URLs.

If you want to remove the history and favorites from the AutoComplete results and show only previously typed URLs, here's how:

  1. Click Tools > Internet Options.
  2. Select the Content tab.
  3. In the AutoComplete section, click the Setting button.
  4. Uncheck the options under the Address Bar section, but leave the main Address Bar option checked (see Figure 1) if you want the same simple AutoComplete functionality as in IE7, where it just shows matching previously typed URLs.
  5. Click OK.

Internet explorer 8 fixes, IE8 fixes

Figure 1

Prevent coloring of tabs by turning off Tab Grouping

After doing some browsing in IE 8, you'll probably notice certain tabs being colored, such as Figure 2 shows. This is part of the tab grouping feature. If you open a link in a new tab, the new tab will be a part of the same group. However, all these colored tabs can get annoying and confusing.

Internet explorer 8 fixes, IE8 fixes

Figure 2

If it's not a helpful feature for you, you can easily turn off tab grouping. Open the Internet Options windows and in the Tabs section, click the Settings button. Then simply uncheck the Enable Tab Groups option, as you see in Figure 3.

Internet explorer 8 fixes, IE8 fixes

Figure 3

Disable the ability to restore previous browser sessions

Another feature Microsoft introduced in IE 8 is the restoration of previous sessions, accessible by clicking Tools > Reopen last browsing session.

The ability to reopen the entire last browsing session is quite helpful, but also brings up privacy issues when sharing your computer. Luckily, you can disable the feature, in both home and professional editions of Windows.

Here's how to disable the restoration feature in XP Professional, using the Group Policy settings:

  1. Click Start > Run, type gpedit.msc, and hit Enter.
  2. Browse to User Configuration / Administrative Templates / Windows Components / Internet Explorer / InPrivate.
  3. Set Turn off Reopen Last Browsing Session to Enabled.

The process is similar in Windows Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate or in Windows 7:

  1. Click the Start button, type gpedit.msc into the search box, and hit Enter.
  2. Navigate to Computer Configuration / Administrative Templates / Windows Components / Internet Explorer / InPrivate
  3. Set Turn off Reopen Last Browsing Session to Enabled.

A trick I've found in the Home editions of Windows--or any edition or version of XP and Vista--is to prevent IE from storing the last session details/history:

  1. From a Computer or My Computer window, click Tools > Folder Options, select the View tab, check the Show hidden files and folders option, and click OK.
  2. In Vista, browse to the following location: C:UsersusernameAppDataLocalMicrosoftInternet ExplorerRecovery.
  3. In XP, browse to the following location: C:Documents and SettingsusernameLocal SettingsApplication DataMicrosoftInternet ExplorerRecovery.
  4. Open the Last Active folder and delete it's contents.
  5. Right-click on the Last Active folder and select Properties.
  6. Select the Security tab and hit the Advanced button.
  7. Click Edit, uncheck the Include inheritable permissions from this object's parent option, and then click Copy on the pop-up dialog box.
  8. Select the permission entry for the user's Windows account, hit Remove, and click OK. If you ever want to reactivate the session restoration feature, just go back and add the user's account to the permission list with Full Control.

Next Page: Start IE8 in the InPrivate Browsing mode

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Tags: Microsoft, privacy, Internet Explorer 8

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