What is about:blank, and how do I get rid of it?

About:blank is a special page within most browsers. It can appear due to problems, malware, or if there's been malware that's been removed.

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I think I am running Windows 7. I get the “about:blank” whenever I log on IE. I didn’t even know it was a ‘whatever’ until recently. What is a simple, fool-proof way to get rid of it?

About:blank is simply a benign page that’s built in to your browser. It’s not something to “get rid of”.

It’s the page that your browser displays when it has nothing else to display. That’s all.

The problem, of course, is that about:blank can show up unexpectedly, and people get confused about why, and what to do next.

About about:blank

About:blank isn’t really “about” anything.

The word “about:” is just a keyword that many browsers use as a way to enable some additional functionality or display standard pages. You can read more about about: in this Wikipedia article.

About:blank does nothing more than display a blank page.

about:blank

 

That’s all. About:blank is nothing more and nothing less than just a blank page that’s built in to your browser.

Most browsers have to display something in the browser window and IE is no different. In various situations, when IE can’t figure out anything else to display, it might well display about:blank.

Sometimes it’s malware

Let’s be clear about something:

about:blank is not malware.

 

However, occasionally, malware will explicitly mess with IE and about:blank will be displayed, but only as a symptom. Malware will sometimes break something and IE will be unable to display a page. In cases like that it simply displays about:blank.

The solution in most of these cases, of course, is to run up-to-date scans for malware.

Sometimes it’s malware removal

Since malware can mess with your browser and often leave it in a confused or broken state, it can be left in that state when the malware is removed.

Similarly, removing the malware might also cause IE to become confused. Perhaps it was displaying a page provided by the malware – once the malware is removed IE has nothing to display, so it can only display about:blank.

Almost every time the solution is quite simple: change your home page back to what you want it to be.

Malware loves to play with your browser home page, and as a result, that often gets confused.

About:blank as your browser home page

Your browser home page is the page that you see first when you initially fire up your browser, or hit the “Home” button

Frequently, the default home page for IE is http://www.msn.com or some other Microsoft-related property.

Sometimes, malware or other misfortune can leave your browser configured with about:blank as the home page that displays whenever you start IE.

Let’s fix that.

Internet Explorer - Internet Options link

Click the gear icon (or the Tools menu) and then Internet options.

IE Internet Options - Home page

On the very first tab (the General tab), the setting for home page is at the very top. As you can see above, it’s set to be about:blank.

It can be whatever web page you want it to be.

Let’s say you want it to be “http://ask-leo.com”. Smile Simply type that in, overwriting the about:blank:

IE Internet options - Home page set to http://ask-leo.com

After entering whatever it is you want, click OK.

Now, click the Home button in IE.

Ask Leo! in IE

Now, your browser will open whatever page it is that you’ve specified when you click the Home button and when you first open the browser.

This is an update to an article originally posted : May 20, 2012

There are 27 comments:

  1. Mike Reply

    I’ve started using the about:blank function as my opening page. Basically as a platform to launch from. Sometimes when my connection is slow for some reason, my computer hangs & I have a devil of a time closing the browser (firefox). If I click on the home page icon & it can’t get out to it, it seems easier to shut down & go kill a bit of time playing solitare until the problem clears up. I use a wireless provider and it seems that many things can cause it to mess up.

  2. Bob Reply

    I agree with Mike. About:Blank is an excellent starting point.
    Sometimes loading a page you don’t always want to read is counter-productive, especially if your monthly limit is on the low side or you’re paying by the kb.
    These days a lot of pages load Mb of ‘junk’ just because they can – flashy banners, video clips, etc etc – and unless you watch/read all of it, you are downloading data for no good reason.

  3. Dave S. Reply

    I use Thunderbird not just for email but also most of my everyday letter writing. It always prints “about blank” in the upper right hand corner of every letter. Any idea how to get rid of that?

  4. Steven Reply

    If you want to start without loading a page, allowing you the time to choose what you want from favorites or whatever you wanted to type, about:blank is perfect.

    When you click home that is about:blank. Setting it as the default page is an excellent choice. Your browser is basically idle.

    There is no way to ‘get rid of it’. It is written into the browser and has been for nearly twenty years. It looks odd but the term comes from the early days when more formal terms and structuring were prevalent (and DOS ruled as well). Most browsers as we know them came from or owe their existance to a program called MOSAIC, which you should do a search on. It might be heavy but it will probably fascinate you.

  5. Hilary Reply

    Leo, Just a semi-off-topic comment. When your readers refer to themselves as “dumb,” what they might mean is: “There are two kinds of disciplined twenty-first-century technology users: first, the vast number of people dedicated to acquiring and exercising as much tech-knowledge as possible; and, second, those comparatively few blessed from birth, as you were, with innate understanding of principles of mathematics and other technology-related sciences.” Perhaps see it as a compliment, Mr. Teacher.

    That may be, but saying “I AM dumb” absolutely comes across as totally self-defeating. As I said, that wording totally turns me off.

    Leo
    22-May-2012
    • Steven Reply

      Nobody is truly ‘dumb’, they are only unfocused in one or more disciplines. Those with no actual working knowledge of a concept often contribute to the solution of very vexing problems to those who have studied it hard. Or, to put it in a different way, grace is not learned, it is found.

  6. Bill F Reply

    For the about:blank as a home page people.

    Consider creating a minimalist web page with your most common links on it and saving it on your hard drive.

    You get the speed benifits of About:blank but also get your most common items with one click.

    This is actually pretty much what I do. My “Home” page is a page of my own creation full of links to various places I go and sites I use frequently. (Of course I over-geek it – it’s actually a Wiki I have installed behind a password protected website over https Smile.)

    Leo
    22-May-2012
  7. Mike Reply

    Another reason why about:blank might be a good Home Page is because host servers use software to determine a wide variety of information. Which includes what browser you’re using, what website you came FROM, and even what website you decided to go to when leaving. So, if you don’t want to leave a trail on somebody else’s webpage, enter from you homepage of about:blank, and go back to your homepage of about:blank before going to your next website.

  8. Gabe Reply

    Dear “Too Dumb”,

    I’m an IT Pro and I’ve always used “about:blank” on every computer I’ve ever set up and in all my years of computing it never occurred to me to investigate if “about:” had additional functionality. Because of your question and because of Leo’s answer, I’ve learned something. We’re all learning.

    :-)

  9. Dan Reply

    Being Dumb and Ignorant are two different things. Ignorant just means you don’t know the answer ‘yet’. Dumb means you don’t know the answer and probably never will…

    It is also a pet peeve mine. I got it drilled into me when in school that dumb is a ‘bad’, and ignorant is a ‘good’ word. I just guess those that use ‘dumb’ are just ‘ignorant’ of the proper word to use.

  10. William C. CURTIS Reply

    Thanks Leo for correcting me. I should have said that I lacked the knowledge to understand instead of taking the ‘short form’. You and the guys above have set me straight again. However I did it one of the best things I ever did was subscribe for your newsletter.

  11. duane Reply

    This about:blank web page reminds me of the Opera web browser which has a home page of links.
    You can’t sign out of the browser by x’ing out a tab. you get this links page. you have to alt-x to close the browser.
    It’s easy to sign out of other browsers by mistake.

  12. BAW30s Reply

    Interesting: Steven’s comment reminded me that Internet Explorer used to acknowledge its origins in MOSAIC. Out of curiosity, I downloaded MOSAIC from the NCSA website and tried it. It hasn’t been updated since 1997, so perhaps unsurprisingly I failed to access any websites with it; the interface is reminiscent of Office 2000.

  13. Rick Norton Reply

    I, too, always use “about:blank” as my home page. I started that after being issued my first laptop, long before wireless was everywhere. When I had an actual webpage as my home page, e.g. Google, and was not connected the browser would hang for a long time, and I am impatient. Also, when learning that many websites track where you go when you leave their site I began the practice of clicking the “home” icon and then navigating to my new destination. I felt that going from a retailers site to a baseball score site was information about me they really didn’t need to have.

  14. Germaine Reply

    I have my Internet Explorer load to a blank page on purpose. I don’t want or need a home page so it’s my default home page. Loading a page with lots of graphics takes a long time on an old computer, so that’s why I do it, but also I don’t need that home page and can choose where I want to go once the internet is up and running. To get rid of it, just choose a home page.

  15. Gilbert Reply

    In my case,I think about blank is one of Microsoft home page.about blank shows for less than a second on starting my Home page (google).My Home page in Internet options never changes it’s always google.
    This you did not explain in your article.

  16. Brad Reply

    I love about blank, when I fire up my PC I sure as heck don’t need nor want to see a bunch of kooky info from the get-go. As an example, If I want to find my weather info I’ll look it up myself.

  17. Glenn P., Reply

    My “start” (i.e., “home”) page is a hand-written local offline (on-disk) html page with links to various Google services, and to my online web page. It loads almost instantly.     :)

  18. Joy Reply

    I’m not a real dummy, but I’ve portrayed one more than once. Such as just last week when, for no apparent reason, Chrome changed my “Open browser to” settings. I couldn’t remember if it was supposed to be aboutblank, about.com or blank.com. About.com was a website, but the next one I tried (blank.com) gave me the blank page I wanted so I went with it. Within a week my browser was being misdirected to some Spanish-language gaming site and I got a malware alert. I ran a full scan, got rid of it, then told the IT son about it. “ABOUT BLANK, Mom, ABOUT BLANK.” : ) There are those who know, those who don’t, and those who know just enough to be dangerous. sigh

  19. Mark Jacobs Reply

    @Joy
    Just for the record, it’s about:blank. Punctuation is important ;=)

  20. connie Reply

    @Joy,
    You might want to get that IT son to take a look at your computer for malware. Things shouldn’t be changing like that on it!

  21. Vivyan Reply

    I ABSOLUTELY HATE ABOUT:BLANK. I have had nothing but problems with that darn thing. Everytime I get rid of it, it pops up again. Isn’t there something out there that completely gets rid of it???? PLEASE???

  22. Ernst Reply

    All is not that easy with ABOUT BLANK because i once had a problem with it where i couldn’t get rid of it and then relished there’s also a virus with the name of ABOUT BLANK. After i removed the virus all was then ok again.

  23. June Gibson Reply

    I used to have MSN as my home page. The page was all very interesting, and offered quite a few things to read – thus I was waylaid from what I had intended to do. I can’t remember why or how I had that page. One day I decided to get rid of it; in wanting nothing showing on the home page I got “about: blank”. Very good! No distractions!!

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