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

Comments

  1. Mike

    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

    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.

    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?

    • sandy

      I had no problem getting rid of about: blank. I have a program named “HiJack This.” I ran the program, found about: blank on the scan of the program and deleted it. done! I do not know if HiJack This is still around but I do have the program and will send it to anyone who needs it.

  4. Steven

    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

    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

      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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.,

    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

    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. connie

    @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!

  20. Vivyan

    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???

  21. Ernst

    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.

  22. June Gibson

    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!!

  23. maira

    sir help me!! someone has blocked twitter from my computer & whenever i tried to open twitter on google chrome..it shows “about blank” there . i dont know what to do? i would be thankful if u sort out my problem

    • Connie Delaney

      About:blank is the page that your browser shows when you have not yet gone to an internet page. What you likely need to do is to just type twitter.com in the address bar. It is also possible that you are not connected to the internet.

  24. D

    yes I ve set google as my home page and checked it about a hundred times and yes internet explorer opens to google. however, when I click on a new tab on the google page to open up ANOTHER page- I get about:blank. so how can you change that so that each page you open thereafter is also google???

    • Mark Jacobs

      I’m not sure that’s possible, but if you open a blank page and type your search question in the address bar, it will Google, or whatever search engine you use, it for you from there. No need to open the Google home page each time.

  25. Jan Shaw

    Not quite true that about:blank is benign and not something to be removed. It is a huge annoyance and prohibits me from doing quite ordinary things. Today for example, I wanted to place a small order with Amazon. Went well right up to proceeding to checkout. The about:blank window popped up; I clicked it off (I thought) and again tried to proceed to Amazon checkout; tried many times; could not find the answer. And surely there MUST be a straight answer. — I’ve been using computers for 40+ years. Now elderly and losing my patience quicker; refuse to read tomes of nonsense just to get to what should be a simply solution. I did not ask for this, don’t want it, need it to go away. Thanks.

    • Connie

      about:blank just means the page hasn’t loaded yet. So every time you click it off you click off the page you are trying to load. It’s, like, the default page – the first thing the browser displays when going to a page. People with fast computers won’t see it at all because it flashes past so fast. So the only thing that is happening is that your computer or internet connection is slow. It’s not a virus or anything like that.

  26. Jack

    The trouble I have has not been addressed!

    I know it’s a benign blank page, the trouble is that the words “about:blank” will not leave the address field when I attempt to enter a website address! That is bloody infuriating! The address filed should quite literally be left blank, that is, completely empty so that it may receive an address entry by the user.

    Some twit from the past thought it was necessary to announce to the world that the page is blnak, rather than just let us observe that, yes, it is indeed actually blank!

    Furthermore, Google, MS, Maxthon, et. al should provide an option to leave the ADDRESS FIELD EMPTY if we choose to have NO home page, what could be simpler than that? I continue to be bemused by the idiocy inherent in the IT industry, no one in it seems to have any practical sense!

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