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WinXP Tweaking: From Relax to Righteous

By: Koroush Ghazi | Guides | Posted: Feb 8, 2003 5:00 am

Internet Explorer 6 (Continued)


Fix Internet Explorer window behaviour


Tool: Internet Explorer


There are two separate issues involving opening IE Windows: The size of the first IE window you open, and the size of subsequent IE windows opened, for example, when clicking on a hyperlink. To change the default size of Internet Explorer windows, look under the relevant section below:


Default size of the first IE window


To determine the size of the window which opens the first time you launch Internet Explorer, you'll need to configure the Internet Explorer shortcut you use. If you use the default IE desktop icon, or the one in the Start Menu, they can't be configured to do this. Follow steps 1-3 below to create a new shortcut, and steps 4 - 6 to configure the default window behaviour:


1. Right-click on the Internet Explorer desktop icon and select Create Shortcut. A new shortcut will be created with something like "Internet Explorer (2)" as the name.


2. Go to Control Panel>Display Properties and select the Desktop tab.


3. Click the Customize Desktop icon, select the General tab, and under Desktop Icons untick Internet Explorer. This will remove the original Internet Explorer desktop icon, leaving you with the shortcut you just created. Rename this shortcut to "Internet Explorer" (without quotes).


4. Right-click on the Internet Explorer shortcut and select Properties.


5. Under the Shortcut tab, select Maximized from the Run box to run IE as a maximized window each time you start it. Alternatively, select Minimized if you want it minimized on start up, or select Normal Window if you want a custom size. Click Ok.


6. If you've selected Normal Window in the Run box, to select the default size for IE, open IE and resize and position the window however you like it. The next time you open IE from this shortcut it will open exactly the same size and in the same position.


Copy this Internet Explorer shortcut to other places in place of existing ones (such as on your Start Menu) if you want to guarantee that these settings are used every time you open Internet Explorer.


Default size of subsequent IE windows


Now that we've set the initial Internet Explorer window size, another annoyance is the size of the window which opens when you click on a hyperlink (or SHIFT + Click on a link), or go to File>New>Window (or press CTRL + N). You can set the default size for this window by doing the following:


1. Start Internet Explorer, and open a web page with visible hyperlinks.


2. Left-click on a hyperlink while holding down the SHIFT button - this guarantees that it will open in a new IE window. Alternatively open a new window by going to File>New and selecting Window.


3. Now hold down the SHIFT key and resize this window however you like it. If you want to size it so it fills the entire screen, don't use the maximize button, resize it manually until it's the same size as a maximized window.


4. Still holding SHIFT, click on the File menu and select Close - don't use the close button on the top right corner of the window.


Internet Explorer should now remember the size and position of any new windows each time you open them. Note that if your system isn't saving windows sizes/positions after a reboot, use the 'Folder views not being saved' tweak under the Windows Explorer section.


There are utilities available which can force IE to open every window maximized, such as Autosizer, but I'm not a big fan of these because they have to sit in the background to do their job and hence take up system resources, and may cause conflicts - all for the sake of something which you can fix for all intents and purposes by doing the above.


Set the default Internet Explorer download directory


Tool: Regedit


[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer ]


Download Directory=C:\Downloads Specifies the default directory where IE will save downloaded files. Change the path to wherever you want the new default to be. If this entry doesn't exist, create it as a String and assign the appropriate path. Reboot or use the Explorer trick to bring the changes into effect.


Remove the Link folder in Favorites


Tool: Regedit


[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Toolbar]


LinksFolderName=Links If you want to get rid of the annoying Links folder in Favorites for good (and not just hide it), edit this string so that it equals a blank value. Now go into Favorites and delete the Links folder and it won't reappear again. Reboot or use the Explorer trick to bring the changes into effect.


Disable the Search Assistant


Tool: Regedit


[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main]


Use Search Asst=No When you click the Search button in Internet Explorer (the magnifying glass) or press CTRL + E, this brings up the Search Companion sidebar. To use the custom Google sidebar (see below) and get rid of the somewhat annoying default interface, turn off Search Assistant by setting this entry to No.


Note, the Main key may not exist in your registry, so right click on the Internet Explorer entry in Regedit, and select New>Key, and call it "Main" (without quotes). You will then have to create a new String value called "Use Search Asst" (without quotes), double click on it once created and give it the value "No" (without quotes).


Change Internet Explorer Search Assistant to Google


Tool: Regedit



[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main]


Search Page=


Search Bar=


[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search]




When you click the Search button in Internet Explorer (the magnifying glass) or press CTRL + E to bring up the Search sidebar, if you've disabled the default Search Assistant interface (see above tweak), you can customize the sidebar to have a nifty Google search interface instead. That way you don't get the "sponsored links" rubbish the default interface shows you, as well as that dopey dog which needs to be put to sleep in my opinion.


Change all of the registry entries above to implement this tweak. If any of the above registry entries don't exist, create them as new Strings and set their values to the addresses above. You can see the effects of this tweak straight away in Internet Explorer without a reboot.


Change Internet Explorer Address Bar search engine


Tool: Regedit


[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Search]




[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\SearchUrl]




You can perform an Internet search by entering a word in the Internet Explorer Address Bar. This will work if under IE you go to Tools>Internet Options>Advanced and have either 'Just display results in the main window' or 'Display results, and go to the most likely site' selected under the 'Search from the Address Bar' section.


By default however, Internet Explorer will use the Microsoft Network (MSN) search engine to perform the search and show the results. To use another search engine, such as the much better Google engine, make the changes shown above. If either entry doesn't exist, create it as a new String value.


For the Provider value which sets the Address Bar search engine, you can set it two ways:


1. Go to Search in Internet Explorer and click the Customize button, then click the Autosearch Settings button. Select your Address Bar search engine provider there.


2. Edit the above 'Provider=' registry entry and use the following values to select your provider:


Msn for MSN (default)


Gogl for Google


Yaho for Yahoo


Alta for Altavista


Aols for AOL


Lksm for LookSmart


Askj for Ask Jeeves


Nets for Netscape


Infs for InfoSpace


Several things to note here. Once you've applied this tweak, you may have problems searching from the address bar if you use a proxy or have any firewall software - disable them if you want to use this feature. Also note that whichever provider you choose for the search bar, the search will still be processed through MSN first, which will then pass the search to the chosen search engine and show the results in that engine.


Problems with the Temporary Internet Files folder


Tool: Command Prompt


If you're having problems with Internet Explorer, such as freezes or laggy behaviour, it's likely that the Temporary Internet Files folder is the culprit. If you've tried to delete files from there or even tried moving or deleting the entire folder itself this will trigger problematic behaviour in IE.


To resolve this problem, do the following:


1. Reboot your PC and make sure you don't open Internet Explorer or Windows Explorer, or anything which accesses them.


2. Go to Start>Run and type "Cmd" without quotes. This will open a Command Prompt.


3. Type "CD\" at the prompt (without quotes) to take you to the root directory.


4. Open Windows Task Manager (CTRL-ALT-DEL) and under the Processes tab highlight the Explorer process and click End Process. The desktop will vanish, but this is normal.


5. Go back to the command prompt, and copy or type the following text (with the quotes) into the command prompt and press ENTER:


del "%userprofile%\local settings\temporary internet files\content.ie5\"


6. Answer "Y" when prompted if you want to delete the file.


7. Go to the Windows Task Manager again and click on the File Menu and choose "New Task (Run)..." and type "Explorer" (without quotes) and hit ENTER. This will reload the desktop.


Doing the above will delete the Index.dat file which lies in your Temporary Internet Files folder and in doing so it will be recreated with the correct references to your cached internet files the next time you open Internet Explorer. Any strange IE behaviour should be resolved. If not, delete all your internet files by going into Internet Explorer>Tools>Internet Options and select the Delete Files, Delete Cookies and Clear History buttons, then retry steps 1-7 above again.


Restrict websites from installing software


Tool: Regedit




[] Create a new subfolder. To do this, highlight the Domains key in the left pane of Regedit, and in the right pane right-click in an empty area and choose New Key. Enter the base address of the site to be restricted as the key name, e.g. "" (without the quotes).


*=4 In the new subfolder create a new Dword simply called *. Assign it a value of 4, which will tell Internet Explorer to prevent this domain (and everything within it) from installing any software on your machine.


This tweak is useful in blocking particular sites which attempt to install special cursors or the like on your machine without your permission.


How much to upgrade to x64 Edition?


Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition (ZAT00008) for PC


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