I had asked you about a problem that I was having with Internet Explorer. Your
response was to “disable add-ons.”
Huh? I have no idea what that means. Please explain.
Fair enough. It’s another one of those things that I take somewhat for
Ultimately, many problems with Internet Explorer aren’t caused by IE at all. They’re caused by software that’s added to IE to extend its functionality.
Not surprisingly, those are called add-ons.
They sometimes show up without warning, but they’re easily dealt with in
later versions of IE.
Add-ons, add-ins, plug-ins … and toolbars
Regardless of what you call them – add-ons, add-ins, plug-ins, or something else – software can be added to IE by third parties. Sometimes they’re obvious, as in add-ons that add toolbars to your browser, but sometimes, they’re more stealthy.
IE add-ons can come from many places. They could be:
Add-ons that you specifically request and install.
Add-ons that are installed as part of some other software that you install.
Add-ins that are installed by malicious software.
While you might think that the latter is the scariest – and it probably is – add-ons from any source can potentially cause problems due to simple bugs, lack of thorough testing, or even unexpected incompatibility with other add-ons.
Regardless of the reason, disabling add-ons is the first place to start when diagnosing behavior and crashing problems with Internet Explorer.
In IE 9, click the gear icon and then Mange add-ons:
The add-on manager defaults to showing you a list of all installed Toolbars and Extensions:
To disable an add-on, just right-click it and click Disable from the resulting pop-up menu:
Conversely, if the add-on is disabled and you want to enable it, right-click the disabled item and then click Enable in the resulting menu.
What do I disable?
If I’m diagnosing a crash or serious misbehavior problem in IE, I start by disabling everything. That quickly tells me whether the problem is related to an add-on or not.
You can then start enabling add-ons until the misbehavior reappears, and when it does, you’ll have identified the guilty add-on.
If you are not diagnosing a problem but simply trying to trim Internet Explorer’s memory footprint or increase its speed, then I recommend that you:
Disable everything that you’re not sure of. Leave enabled only those add-ons that you know or feel you need.
As you use Internet Explorer thereafter, enable only those add-ons that are required to provide functionality that you need.
Leave everything else disabled.
Finally, if you suspect malware, disable everything that you don’t recognize and do an internet search for the names that you find listed.
And of course, be sure to run up-to-date anti-malware tools. IE add-ons are one way that machines can become infected.