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  Internet Explorer 6 and Outlook Express tweak guide

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Despite of increasingly stiff competition from the likes of Opera and Firefox, Microsoftís Internet Explorer 6 remains by large as the most popular internet browser. So if it happens to be your browser of choice, I have no doubt itís one of your most often used applications and you should know it offers a decent amount of customisation possibilities and a wealth of options.

This guide will take you through the vast array of options and settings available to customize Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) and the bundled Outlook Express (OE) to its fullest, in particular seeking to improve browser security or just fine tuning them to your own browsing needs. You may also want to know this guide has been updated to include all changes brought by Windows' Service Pack 2.

 

Troubleshooting/Updates

Regardless of what Microsoft may have to say on the matter, Internet Explorer is constantly being exploited in some new (or not so new) way on a regular basis. If you canít keep it updated, you arenít secure. We maintain a list of updates available for Windows on our OS Updates section which will help you keep your system up to date and safer with all the latest patches available.

While keeping updated can solve many browser issues, you may experience other problems related to spyware files installed on your system. This can affect your system in different ways, while some are relatively benign youíll find others altering your home and search pages, or redirecting your browser. For resolving problems like this Iíd recommend using Ad-Aware and Spybot for detecting and removing of spy/ad-ware files, registry entries and other infections. Bear in mind that in some cases certain applications many not function correctly after removing these files. This is covered in more detail in our Guide to Windows Security & Privacy.

If youíre still encountering major problems with Internet Explorer it may be necessary to perform a repair installation. Click Start, Settings, Control Panel, Add/Remove Programs. Double click Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Tools.

Select Repair Internet Explorer and hit Ok. This will fix any detected errors in your Internet Explorer installation. Reboot for the changes to take effect. If you are using Windows XP instructions for performing a repair can be found here.

 

Explorer Shortcuts

Though you might feel the Windows Explorer shortcut to be rather limited, you can get a little bit more out of it by using command-line switches. Right click on the desktop and select New, Shortcut. Initially youíll want to enter the location of explorer.exe, the easiest way to do so is by entering %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe, as shown beneath:

Several command-line switches can be added to this as needed;

/n. This specifies that a new single-pane window is opened, i.e. the Folders explorer bar is not visible, e.g. %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /n.

/e. This specifies that a new double-paned window is opened, i.e. the Folders explorer bar is visible (default anyway).

/select,location. This specifies the file/folder to be selected upon loading the shortcut, e.g. %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /select,C:\pagefile.sys loads a new Windows Explorer window to the C:\ drive, with pagefile.sys selected.

/root,location. This specifies the directory to be opened upon loading the shortcut, e.g. %SystemRoot%\explorer.exe /root,C:\WINNT loads a new Windows Explorer window in the C:\WINNT directory. Unlike the previous option, no file/folder is selected.

Similar to modifying Windows Explorer shortcuts, the Internet Explorer shortcut can be set to load no homepage when launched. This provides a faster initiation of Internet Explorer and is recommended as itís unlikely youíll want to load your homepage for every single Internet Explorer window you launch.

Right click on your Internet Explorer shortcut and select Properties. Now select the Shortcut tab then the Target field. Add the following command into the Target field Ėnohome.

Your shortcut should now read "C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\IEXPLORE.EXE" Ėnohome. Click Apply and then Ok to save the changes.

 

Changing IE/OE Titles

If you wish you can change the IE6 title to something more appealing than simply Microsoft Internet Explorer, if you wish to do so take the following steps.

Click on Start, Run, type in regedit and hit Enter. Open the following registry key [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main]. Now Add/Edit a New String Value entitled Window Title. In the Value data field enter your desired title, and then hit Ok (if you delete the Window Title key it will default to Microsoft Internet Explorer instead). Itís worth noting that using a custom title could possibly interfere with some esoteric applications though the only one Iíve come across was the All Advantage viewbar and they went out of business years back (does anybody reading this even remember them?).

You can also change the OE title by opening the following registry key. [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities\{xxx}\Software\Microsoft\Outlook Express\5.0], where xxx represents the Identity number displayed. Add/Edit a New String Value entitled WindowTitle. Right click on this setting and select Modify. In the Value data field enter your desired title, and then hit Ok (if you delete the WindowTitle key it will default to Outlook Express instead).



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