Speed up Internet Explorer by cleaning it up

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Internet Explorer tends to collect things over time that can cause it to run more slowly.  You may have heard of these things – they are called Add-ons, Plug-ins and toolbars.  Some can be beneficial, but many are just more annoying clutter that you don’t really need.


How do these things get on your computer?

Many times it is because you invite them in (inadvertently). You are installing a new program, or updating a program that is already there (such as Adobe Reader or Flash) and the extra software just piggybacks on because you didn’t notice that a box was already checked during the installation.

In some cases, you might actually go out searching for a particular add-on because it serves a purpose. The worst situation is when some type of malware adds something to IE without even giving you the option to reject it.

Whatever the source, you should know what these add-ons and toolbars are so that you can decide if you want to keep using them.

Checking them out is pretty easy (examples here are for IE9, but the basics are the same for IE8):

1. Click on Tools, then click on Manage Add-ons:

Manage add-ons

2. In the next window, you will see some categories on the left.  “Toolbars and Extensions” is the one you want, and it should already be selected:

Toolbars and Extensions

3. When that selection is made, you will see several items in the right side of the window.  These are, as you probably guessed, the toolbars and extensions that are available for your version of Internet Explorer.  You will also see each one’s status – either Enabled or Disabled.

4. When you click to highlight one of them, you will have the option at the bottom to change its status.

As you can see from mine, I disable just about all of them.  I keep Shockwave Flash enabled because some websites use that to display their content.

That’s all there is to it!

After you adjust that category, you might go and check out the other ones, such as “Search providers” – I have Google set as my default search provider, and I rarely use Bing or Yahoo.  You can play with those settings without really being in danger of hurting anything.

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December 19th, 2011

what if you don’t understand what these add-ons are for, and disable something you need?

Thanks for all your great information – it is appreciated!

A Fellow Mainer

Scott Johnson
December 19th, 2011

None of the add ons are necessary for internet explorer to run. So you can’t really hurt anything.

Dick Grondin
December 19th, 2011

Will this do the same thing as your Soluto tip or is it something else?

Scott Johnson
December 19th, 2011

One of Soluto’s options is to disable these add-ons, so there is some overlap.