Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Computer Helper: IE Troubles

Love it or hate it, Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), by most estimates, still commands the lion's share of the browser market. That means a lot of people spend a lot of their day using the browser, and a lot of people encounter problems they'd like to solve. Here are a few.

Q: Internet Explorer opens up in a different size and position each time I start it. I would like it to open up maximized. How can I do this?

A: Internet Explorer - and most other web browsers - remembers the size and position it was last in, and it launches in the exact same size and position when restarted. It's likely that you or some process re-sized or moved the browser window before closing it. It's important to note that IE and other browsers remember the state of just the last browser window closed, so if you have five browser session open, it's only the last one that is closed that will be stored for the next launch of the browser.

There are a couple of ways you can force IE to open in a maximized state each time, regardless of the size and position it was last in when closed. First, go to your Start menu and locate the Internet Explorer icon. Right-click it, and select Properties from the pop-up menu. From the resulting Internet Explorer Properties dialog box, make sure the Shortcut tab is selected, and then from the Run drop-down list box, select 'Maximized.' Click Apply and OK.

You could also download and use the free IE New Window Maximizer, which will make it easy to do the same thing. The utility also gives you several other options over how IE launches, including the ability to open a new IE window in the background and to automatically close pop-up windows.

Q: Internet Explorer is showing all of my web pages in a font that's too small for me to read. It did not used to do that. Does my computer have a virus?

A: It's unlikely that your computer has a virus. Instead, you probably accidentally adjusted the zoom level in Internet Explorer. The zoom level is responsible for making text and other objects on web pages larger or smaller. Recent versions of IE have made adjusting the zoom level all too easy, especially if you have a wheel mouse. By holding down the Ctrl key and moving the wheel back and forth, you can adjust the zoom level on the fly. You can do the same thing by holding down the Ctrl key and tapping the plus (+) or minus (-) keys on your keyboard's number pad. Unfortunately, accidentally activating the zoom feature using either one of these shortcuts is a common complaint among IE users.

First, to reset the zoom level to the normal, 1:1 scale, open the View menu in IE, locate the Zoom option, and select 100% from the sub-menu. Get used to the look of the 100%, 1:1 scale, and you can quickly get back to it by using one of the shortcuts mentioned earlier.

Take a moment to inspect IE's View menu, and you'll also see that it's possible to reduce or enlarge the size of just the text on web pages without affecting the scale of other elements. Make sure the Text Size option in the View menu is set to Medium to get back to IE's default.

Q: Internet Explorer seems to freeze a lot. This is on Windows 7. It will freeze and then a dialog box saying 'Internet Explorer stopped responding' appears. All I can do is close it down. Is this a problem with Internet Explorer or the websites I'm viewing? Should I switch to a different browser?

A: Freezes such as those you describe may or may not be an Internet Explorer issue. To find out, though, start by installing one or two other browsers and visiting the same sites. Download and install Firefox and Chrome. Both of these can reside on the same computer as Internet Explorer, and at the very least you can use them to help you know whether the problems you are encountering with IE are unique to Microsoft's browser.

Even if you find that Firefox and Chrome do not crash while you're viewing the same sites, however, the fault may not lie with IE but rather with add-ons that are installed in IE. Open IE's Tools menu, click Manage Add-Ons, and from the resulting Manage Add-ons dialog box, select any non- Microsoft add-ons with a status of Enabled and disable them. You can do that by highlighting each of the add-ons one at a time, right clicking, and choosing Disable from the pop-up menu. When you're finished, close the dialog box, restart IE, and visit the same sites. If the browser no longer freezes, you can enable the add-ons one at a time until you find the culprit.

Q: Internet Explorer is not remembering my username and password at websites any more. How can I fix this?

A: There are a few things you can try to solve this problem. First, make sure you're not in InPrivate mode, which will not save user names and passwords.

Second, be sure that you have IE set up to remember user names and passwords. Open the Tools menu, and select Options. From the resulting Options dialog box, select the Content tab. Then, from the Auto Complete section, click Settings. In the Auto Complete dialog box, make sure the Forms check box is selected, as well as the 'User names and passwords on forms' sub-setting.

Third, because this problem can result from corrupted cookies, try deleting all of your cookies and starting over. To delete cookies, open IE's Tools menu, and select Internet Options. From the General tab of the Internet Options dialog box, under Browsing History, click the Delete button. Then select the Cookies check box, and click OK.


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