Dealing with Browser Problems

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I haven’t seen you mention Firefox problems. I’ve been using it for internet but it goes into “not responding” mode, particularly when I click on a link in a news email.

Actually, I talk about browser problems all the time. Particularly since people encounter browser problems all the time. 🙂

The problem, though, is that it’s never as simple as telling you “Well, here’s what you do to stop ‘not responding’ problems”. There are so many possible causes, there’s no way to know which one might applies to your situation.

What I use instead is a more general approach to dealing with internet web browser problems that applies to all popular browsers — not only FireFox, but Chrome, Internet Explorer, and more.

Read moreDealing with Browser Problems

What’s a Browser Cache? How Do I Clear It? Why Would I Want To?

The browser cache appears in more answers than questions, but often causes even more questions.

Even while following instructions to empty the cache, many people aren’t clear on what this piece of magic really is, or why clearing the cache does anything at all.

Let’s review what the browser cache is and why it exists. I’ll also point you to steps to clear it in Edge, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome, and try to dream up some reasons why that sometimes helps.

Read moreWhat’s a Browser Cache? How Do I Clear It? Why Would I Want To?

How Do I Get My Web Browser’s Menu and Toolbar Back?

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I have lost my internet toolbar which allows me to go to my tools, file, internet options, etc. What do I do about this?

From your description, I’m going to assume you mean that all this is happening within Internet Explorer, though similar features are present in other browsers (as well as other applications).

It’s easy to accidentally hide menus and toolbars.

I’ll examine those, and show you how to get your toolbar, menu, or whatever it is that you’re missing back.

Read moreHow Do I Get My Web Browser’s Menu and Toolbar Back?

What Good is Incognito Mode?

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I use incognito mode in my web browser to keep my online activities private. I mentioned that to a friend and he said it wasn’t private at all. If he’s right … what’s the point?

You’re both right, and you’re both wrong.

Incognito mode in Google Chrome (also referred to as “Private” or “InPrivate” in Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, and other browsers) protects your privacy to a point.

It’s critical to know where that is, because beyond that point, Incognito does exactly nothing to keep you more private.

Read moreWhat Good is Incognito Mode?

How Do I Stop Websites from Pestering Me About Notifications?

It seems many websites now really, really want to keep you as informed and as up to date as possible by providing notifications in your web browser when something they think is important happens. As on mobile devices, all these websites seem to act as if they were the MOST IMPORTANT WEBSITE EVER, and if it were up to them, you’d be faced with a never-ending stream of notifications.

Fortunately, most browsers ask if you want a specific website to present notifications the first time you visit. Naturally, we almost always say “no”, and move on.

The problem? So many websites want to display notifications that even responding to these queries can quickly get annoying.

Fortunately, in most browsers you can turn if off.

Read moreHow Do I Stop Websites from Pestering Me About Notifications?

How Do I Uninstall and Reinstall Internet Explorer in Windows 10?

Because it’s so tightly intertwined with Windows itself, repairing Internet Explorer (IE) by uninstalling and reinstalling has always been a somewhat obscure process. With the advent of Windows 10, that process changed. It’s no more or less obscure; it’s just different.

Uninstalling IE can be marginally helpful if you never use it, but by resetting some of the software and settings reinstalling can be a useful diagnostic step if you’re having problems.

Read moreHow Do I Uninstall and Reinstall Internet Explorer in Windows 10?

How Do Chrome and Chrome Relate?

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3-4 times per week I find a Chrome script message overlaid on my email s/w (Thunderbird) page.

Typical message reads “chrome://global/content/bindings/general.xml:113”

The message text varies, but is always prefaced with “chrome…”. When this happens, Firefox slows to a crawl and the T-Bird tray icon shows an ominous orange background. I had Chrome on my machine at one time but deleted it (hopefully) using Revo Uninstaller at the most thorough uninstall setting.

In yet another case of horrifically confusing terminology choices, the “chrome” you’re seeing isn’t the Chrome you’re thinking of.

Put another way, this isn’t the Chrome you’re looking for.

Read moreHow Do Chrome and Chrome Relate?

What’s Your Take on Firefox Quantum?

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I think many, like myself, will like to hear your evaluation on the latest Firefox. I know I lost a number of my regular add-ons since the new version is not compatible. I hope the programmers will get busy and fix them. I appreciate all those who make Firefox’s add-ons.

Firefox Quantum, AKA version 57 or later, is touted as representing a major overhaul of Firefox to improve speed, security, and privacy. At the same time, the interface used to enable add-ons has changed, presumably for the same reasons.

Like you, I was curious if the new Firefox would behave differently. Not long ago, I ran a quick personal trial of half a dozen different browsers, and found that every single one of them had issues of one sort or another. Be it memory usage, speed, compatibility, or something else entirely, none of them were without issues.

I loaded up Firefox Quantum and have been using it for a couple of weeks now. In fact, I’m typing in it right now.

Read moreWhat’s Your Take on Firefox Quantum?

How Do I Change My Browser Home Page Back to What I Want?

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I upgraded my browser, and I’ve always had MSN as my homepage. Now, suddenly, the MSN homepage is all changed and I hate it. Can I change it back, and if so, how do I do it?

When your browser’s home page changes, there are two possibilities at play: the home page setting in your browser has been changed, or the content at the home page you’ve selected has changed.

I’ll look at both, and what you can and can’t do about each.

Read moreHow Do I Change My Browser Home Page Back to What I Want?

Change the Search Engine in Microsoft Edge

The Edge browser is Microsoft’s latest attempt to put a nail in the coffin of Internet Explorer. Designed from the ground up as a faster, safer, alternative browser, it’s the default web browser in Windows 10.

Unfortunately, it’s been slow to catch up to the level of features included with other browsers. In some cases, though, it’s not that a feature isn’t there – it’s that it’s so well hidden.

This seems to be the case with changing the default search engine used by Edge. It’s not really obvious how to do it, but it’s actually not that hard.

Read moreChange the Search Engine in Microsoft Edge

How Do I Download a File from a Webpage?

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I’ve purchased one of your books, and I want to download it. I have access to the page that has the links to the book in different formats, but … now what? When I click on the links either the book’s displayed in my browser, which I don’t want, or something gets downloaded but I don’t know where? What do I do?

This applies to just about any download from a web page, not just my books.

When you’re given a link to download a file, what happens when you click on that link depends on the type of file, how that file is referenced on the web site, and even what browser you’re using. Bottom line: something as “simple” as downloading a file can be a confusing and befuddling mess.

I’ll outline an approach that I recommend you use for any and all downloads. Naturally, there will still be small differences based on what browser you’re using, but at least you’ll know what’s happening.

And for now, at least, I’ll tell you which browser to avoid, since it just doesn’t work.

Read moreHow Do I Download a File from a Webpage?

Why is there a slash through the https in my browser’s address bar?

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Sometimes when I’m on a secure website (https in the URL), I notice that the https has a slash through it, seemingly meaning the site is NOT secure. Is this true? And if so, why is it happening?

Https, which stands for secure http, is used instead of http to do two things: confirm the identity of the site you’re connecting to, and keep your communications with that site secure by encrypting it all.

If something is wrong, the browser will often display a warning, but in some cases it will do nothing more than turn the https indicator red, or put a line through it.

Unfortunately, “something is wrong” can mean many things, ranging from a serious security issue to a benign oversight by the website’s owner.

Read moreWhy is there a slash through the https in my browser’s address bar?

Where Do Downloads Go?

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When I download files like ebooks off the internet, I can never find them. Where do they go on my computer?

It depends on how you download. Typically they go into your “Downloads” or  “My Documents” folder, so we’ll look at how best to check that.

But it’s also possible that they went into the same folder as the last download. We’ll look at why, and how to fix it as well.

There’s another place that downloads often end up that’s kind of dangerous, as it gets “cleaned up” every so often – meaning you could eventually lose your download. We’ll learn how to avoid that.

And we’ll look at how to find your file, regardless of where it landed.

Read moreWhere Do Downloads Go?

Is it safe to let my browser remember passwords?

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If I consider my computer to be physically secure, am I reasonably safe letting Firefox remember my passwords (without using a master password), or am I being incredibly stupid to do that? What if I do use a master password?

I certainly wouldn’t say incredibly stupid at all. But it’s definitely an additional risk, and one that needs to be understood.

But you’re correct in considering physical security first. The problem is that people often assume they have more physical security than they actually do.

And master passwords? Well, they’re nice, but they too have their limitations.

Read moreIs it safe to let my browser remember passwords?

Why is Chrome automatically filling in forms?

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Is there any way we can stop Google doing this (anti-privacy) stuff?

I have a PC which I normally use with Firefox, but sometimes Chrome (usually when page translation is needed). My son occasionally uses the PC but always with Chrome.

Today I went to fill out a form for entry to a competition: as soon as I entered the first ‘S’ of the name, Google filled out the WHOLE of the rest of the form with HIS mobile number, HIS email, in fact all his personal details. He assures me he has not activated any autofill or checked any ‘remember me’ boxes and (since he’s well over 30yo and totally honest) I believe him. The entry form came from a local newspaper and is nothing directly to do with Google or their services.
SO the question is – how to prevent this happening by default – after all, this means that ANYONE who uses this PC has access to all my son’s personal info.
Surely Google can’t be allowed to get away with this, and anyway, either way, the rest of your readers need to know of this gaping hole in security created by Google?

*Note to self – uninstall Google Chrome.*

Comments please Leo?

Sure. I think you’re blaming the wrong entity.

There’s a lot of confusion when a browser (yes, any browser) automatically fills in something on web page when we start typing.

There’s nothing deep, dark or nefarious going on here. No one’s trying to violate your privacy. It’s simply your browser doing its best to be helpful.

Read moreWhy is Chrome automatically filling in forms?

Internet Explorer crashes, how do I fix it?

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I keep getting the message “IExplorer.exe has generated an error” when I browse the web, and Internet Explorer crashes and shuts down. Why does this happen, and what do I do to fix it?

IExplore.exe which is Internet Explorer, or more commonly “IE”, is perhaps one of the most used pieces of software ever written next to the Windows operating system itself.

Unfortunately, being such a widely used program, when it crashes a lot of people notice. And since not all crashes that look like IE are actually caused by IE, things get very confusing, and perhaps very frustrating.

Let’s look at some of the clues to help identify the problem as well as some steps that may help resolve the issues we find.

Read moreInternet Explorer crashes, how do I fix it?

Why do some web pages never finish loading?

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I use Firefox. On the tabs, open at the top of the page, if I refresh the page and it’s reloading a green, spinning circle appears. Why is it that on some pages, that circle is there constantly? Is that page constantly refreshing or something?

I’ve been noticing this from time to time myself on various websites. I don’t think it’s browser related, since you’re running Firefox and I’m running Chrome.

I can’t specifically say what it is in your case, but I have several ides of what it might be, and I kind of sort of know what it is in mine.

Read moreWhy do some web pages never finish loading?

Why are there websites in my browser history that I’ve never been to?

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I periodically clean my browser history, but after a while website entries begin to appear in it that I’ve never actually been to. Some of these sites look quite disturbing, and are not sites that I would ever go to. Why would these entries appear? Do I have spyware or a virus?

This is a question I get relatively often, and it’s usually nothing to worry about.

Certainly viruses or spyware are a possibility. Of late I’d also call out “Foistware” – the software that often appears on your system unexpectedly after installing something else.

However there are also more benign scenarios. It’s possible your browser may simply be doing a good job protecting you.

Read moreWhy are there websites in my browser history that I’ve never been to?

Do I need more than one browser? Why?

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I run Windows 7, Internet Explorer 11 and Firefox 28 on a nearly new LG all-in-one with an I5 processor. I have two issues with Internet Explorer. When accessing a video link from an email, for example, I get sounds but no picture. When booking an online ticket, I can’t complete the process as when pressing “next” I’m returned to the first page. I don’t have either of these problems with Firefox. Any suggestions?

Honestly, I think you’ve answered your own question. If it works in Firefox, use Firefox.

Browsers are complex beasts, and websites can be complex beasts too. When you combine them, things get geometrically more complex. All three of the top browsers: Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome, are good, solid browsers, as are many others like Safari and Opera.

Read moreDo I need more than one browser? Why?

How Do I Make a Change to Chrome that Sticks?

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The Ask Tool Bar is not visible in Add/Remove programs. It was also not visible in Revo Uninstaller Professional. I’ve tried many patches to get rid of it and in fact it’s not visible anywhere except in Chrome. I’ve uninstalled Chrome many times but when I reinstall it, it just comes back in like a leech. Can you please hel me get rid of it? It’s very annoying.

I’ve heard about scenarios like this a time or two, specifically with Chrome.

I have a suspicion as to what’s going on and as a result, a couple of suggestions.

Read moreHow Do I Make a Change to Chrome that Sticks?

Do I Need to Install IE 11?

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Hi, Leo. My computer’s an HP Pavilion Slimline desktop PC. My operating system is Windows 7, Home Premium, 64-bit, Service Pack 1. I noticed in the last Windows Update, Internet Explorer 11 was included. IE 11 was included in the important updates. Now, I remember IE 10 was an optional update. Do I need to install IE 11? I’m still using IE 9. Would I have to install IE 10 before I install IE 11?

Let me answer the last part first: no, you won’t need to install IE 10 before IE 11. Windows Update would actually show you IE 10, if that was what you needed first.

Instead, as you noted, IE 11 is included immediately with Windows Update. Now, I’m not really sure what the criteria for important or optional might be according to Microsoft, but in general, my tendency would be to take the update.

I want to talk a little bit about why you should take the update, and my theory on why it changed from “optional” to “important”.

Read moreDo I Need to Install IE 11?

How Do I Reinstall Internet Explorer?

Internet Explorer is an odd beast. Treated like an application, it’s also considered a Windows component. In fact, it’s such a component of Windows that you may be able to make the shortcuts and icons related to IE go away, but you can never really get rid of everything. Some components simply are parts of Windows.

Unfortunately, there are times when we’d really like to treat it like a “normal” application. Specifically, it would be good to be able to uninstall it completely and then reinstall it from scratch.

While we can’t do exactly that, I’ll walk you through what we can do that gets us fairly close; as close as we can get without reinstalling Windows itself, anyway.

Read moreHow Do I Reinstall Internet Explorer?

How do I fix Internet Explorer if it won’t open?

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I’m running Windows 7; I thought I had IE9. When I tried to use Internet Explorer, it won’t open. A little pop-up just says that “IE has a problem and is closing.” Then it’s difficult to close and keeps popping up. It might be connected to an add-on called Conduit.com as I see it in the search window behind the pop-up. I had to clean that off of Chrome and Firefox rejected it (thankfully). I went to Windows/IE site to install IE10 over what I have and it refused, saying I already had a more current version. How can I already have something more current than what the site has?

Based on what you’re seeing, I suspect that you’re already running Internet Explorer 10. Now, it’s going to be hard to say exactly what’s going to work to solve this problem, but I’ve got a couple of ideas.

Read moreHow do I fix Internet Explorer if it won’t open?

Are Silent Background Updates a Good Thing?

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I have a little philosophical question: what’s the difference between Google Chrome silently updating in the background without me ever giving it explicit permission to do so, and malware updating itself in much the same way and getting new commands to wreak havoc? In fact, I believe Google Earth also updates itself with no explicit permission. At some point, it suddenly showed up in my frequently used programs as a new program even though I already had it. If there’s a clause in the User Agreement that says they can, it becomes a legal issue where the question is whether they can just change the Agreement after a user agrees to a different version of it.

Well, I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not going to address legal issues. But I bet the agreement probably contains terminology to give them permission to do silent updates.

It’s one of those things about legalese: lawyers can always interpret it in a way that allows them to say you agreed.

The concern I have with your question is that you seem to be very distrustful of these silent updates and consider them akin to malware.

I strongly disagree.

Read moreAre Silent Background Updates a Good Thing?

Why Is AVG Telling Me IE Has High Memory Usage?

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I have the free version of AVG anti-virus 2013. And I keep getting this error: “AVG has detected high memory usage by Internet Explorer 8”. When that comes up, my computer slows way down. I do not have any add-ons and I’ve taken just about everything I don’t need off of my computer, but I am still getting this error. I have Windows XP Home Edition with Service Pack 3.

High-memory usage can be related to a couple of things. I’ll discuss four things that might be causing this, but first, I want to talk about an assumption that I think you’re making here.

Read moreWhy Is AVG Telling Me IE Has High Memory Usage?

Should I Update to the Latest Internet Explorer?

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I have Windows 7 Home Premium, Service Pack 1. In the past, I’ve always been gun-shy to jump on the newest Microsoft release. On my computer, IE 9 takes second fiddle to Chrome. That said, along comes IE 10. In my experience, I usually wait about six months for them to work all the problems out before I update. So, what are your thoughts on the IE 10? Shall I wait a bit longer or jump?

Ultimately, if you’re running Chrome anyway, it’s a moot point. If you primarily use Chrome, just keep using it and keep it up-to-date (which Google does transparently for you).

I’d probably have you update Internet Explorer, but not for the reasons most people think.

Read moreShould I Update to the Latest Internet Explorer?

How Do I Stop My Homepage from Changing?

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How do I stop my homepage from changing?

The Home page is nothing more than the web page that automatically opens when you launch your web browser or hit the Home button in that browser.

Now, I’m going to assume that you’ve actually set this page to what you want it to be. If you haven’t set this up, I can’t really give you the steps as they’re different for each browser program. (Though How do I change my browser home page back to what I want? has instructions for a couple.)

For our purposes here, let’s say that you already set the homepage, but something is changing it. There are a couple of reasons why this might be happening.

Read moreHow Do I Stop My Homepage from Changing?

Can I Use More than One Browser?

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Hi, Leo. I’m thinking about installing Google Chrome. I currently use IE8. Will Chrome just install over it and then become the default browser leaving IE as a used program in the background?

Let’s begin by clearing up a few misconceptions here.

First, you can have more than one browser on your machine. Many people do. I do.

Once you install Google Chrome, you still have Internet Explorer available to you. The icon should still be in your Programs menu and when you click it, Internet Explorer 8 opens. And you can then click the Google icon to use Google Chrome. Installing one browser does not automatically replace any browsers already installed. They are completely separate programs that can actually live together in something approaching harmony.

However, when you download an additional browser you do have the option of making it the default browser. And much like Highlander, there can be only one.

Read moreCan I Use More than One Browser?

Why is a website telling me I need IE8 when I already run IE8?

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Lately, when I visit a new website (new to me anyway), I get a message that says that this website does not work well with IE7 and telling me to upgrade. But I already have IE8 so why do they not know this? IE8 is the newest browser I can use with Windows XP and I have no desire to change to any other operating system. Is there a way to stop such messages? How?

It’s frustrating when this happens. I’ve occasionally experienced it as well.

The issue here is that it’s typically not an issue that’s in our control. It’s usually the website’s fault.

So, what to do? I only have a few suggestions here.

Read moreWhy is a website telling me I need IE8 when I already run IE8?

Why do I get script error messages in Windows 8 and not prior versions of Windows?

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With my new Dell Ultra book running Windows 8, I get really annoying script error messages on certain web pages, such as the New York Times. I’ve googled the problem and I’ve tried standard suggestions, such as removing temporary internet files and cookies, disabling script error debugging and stopping script error notices, and running CCleaner but the error messages keep reappearing. On other computers running Windows XP, I do not get the same error message. Do you have any suggestions?

It sounds like the issue here isn’t Windows (or Windows 8, in this case), but the browser that you’re using.

As of this article’s publication, Windows 8 is still sort of new so it is a little early to say yea or nay. But I suspect that you’re accessing the browser (I’m guessing Internet Explorer) from the tiled Start screen.

That may not be the browser you think it is.

Read moreWhy do I get script error messages in Windows 8 and not prior versions of Windows?

Why Is My Browser Being Redirected?

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When I type in some URLs, such as google.com or yahoo.com, instead of getting the real website, I appear to be redirected to some other site ending in .ru. But the site I typed in still stays displayed in the address line. Is this a virus or someone trying to take over my computer? How do I clean this up?

In a word: malware.

This is a fairly classic case of a browser hijacking.

There are many variations on the theme, but the idea is very simple: you try to go somewhere and you land … somewhere else.

Read moreWhy Is My Browser Being Redirected?

How do I get rid of Bing?

I have to be honest – this question threw me for quite a loop. But after I’d received it for about the third or fourth time it was clear I had to figure out what was going on.

My initial reaction? Bing’s a web site – “http://bing.com” – it’s not something you “get rid of”. If you don’t like Bing, well then just don’t visit that web site.

It couldn’t be that simple, so I must be missing something.

What I was missing, of course, was that what people were really asking about was the Bing toolbar.

I hate to say it, but terminology matters. A lot.

Read moreHow do I get rid of Bing?

Do Browser Features Offering Privacy Really Work?

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Google Chrome promises Incognito mode. Is it true that no record of your web browsing is kept and in the future can not be recovered? I thought windows kept a log of everything you did as a matter of course. Scenario: could the law enforcement agencies find the web sites you have visited if you were using incognito mode?

Ah yes, “Incognito” in Chrome, and “InPrivate Browsing” in Internet Explorer 8.

Also known as “Porn mode” to the rest of us.

Let’s review what these features do, and just how paranoid you should be when using them to surf porn whatever it is you want kept private.

Read moreDo Browser Features Offering Privacy Really Work?

How Do I Delete History Items from My Google Toolbar?

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I want to delete the items that show up automatically when I search for something using Google’s toolbar. I’ll admit it, there are some terms there that I’d not want others to see. How do I clear that?

That’s actually a composite question from several related questions that I get several times each day. People search for things on Google, and then they don’t want the evidence of what they searched for to remain.

Fair enough.

But there’s an amazing amount of confusion. Some say “Google toolbar” and mean “Google toolbar”. Others say “Google toolbar” and mean … well, apparently they mean something else.

And naturally the difference is important in answering the question.

Read moreHow Do I Delete History Items from My Google Toolbar?