Start Using Internet Explorer 7

23 November 2006 (updated)

Internet Explorer 7 is the latest version of Microsoft's free web browser. This guide explains how to set it up and how to use the new features.

Introduction to IE 7

Internet Explorer 7 (IE 7) is the long-awaited new version of Microsoft's leading web browser. It has been designed to be much safer, it has new features to improve browsing and it has better handling of web page code.

IE 7 is free to download and also features optional plug-ins so that you can add tools for improving things like downloading and security.

If you currently use a different browser such as Firefox, you can install IE 7 without affecting your other browser.

Users of Windows XP with Service Pack 2 can download the IE 7 setup file from www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/

If you have Automatic Updates enabled on your PC you will receive IE 7 as an update. You will be given the choice to install the program or not.

Alternatively, visit www.windowsupdate.com and choose the Express install option which will download any necessary updates including IE 7.

Features of IE 7

IE 7 has a number of improvements over previous versions of the browser:

  • Tabbed Browsing: Open multiple sites within the same window and use tabs to move between them
  • Pop-up Blocker: Prevents pop-up advertisements
  • Phishing Filter: Warns you about dangerous fake web sites
  • RSS Feeds: Shows RSS news feeds available on a site
  • Printing: Automatically fit web page text on the printed page
  • Zoom: Magnify parts of a web page to read more easily
  • Search Box: Search with your preferred search engine from within the IE 7 window
  • Favorites Center: Easy access to your Favorite bookmarks
  • Security: Color-coded warnings and security information about the site you're visiting

Installation

If you downloaded the Internet Explorer setup file, double-click it to begin installation. Click Run if you get a security warning.

You should temporarily switch off any anti-virus or anti-spyware security programs you have running. Usually there will be an icon on the taskbar that you can right-click and choose Close or Exit. Remember to make sure they are switched back on after IE 7 has been installed - often this happens automatically after restarting your PC.

Click Next and then I Accept on the agreement screen. Now you will be asked to confirm your copy of Windows is genuine by clicking the Validate button.

The next screen allows you to install the latest Windows updates. Click Next and any necessary updates will be downloaded and installed. This may take a few minutes.

When IE 7 has finished installing you will need to restart your PC. Save any work and click Restart Now.

Starting IE 7

Start IE 7 using any existing Internet Explorer shortcut you have on the desktop or from your Start Menu under Programs > Internet Explorer.

If you use ZoneAlarm or other firewall program you may need to confirm you want to allow this changed version of Internet Explorer to access the Internet.

Customize Settings

You will now see a page allowing you to customize your settings.

First choose your default search provider (your favourite search engine). This will be used for the Search Box that appears in the top-right of the IE 7 window.

Tick to either use your current provider or select from a list of other search providers.

There are several optional settings you may wish to set now:

  • Phishing Filter - tick to turn this on. It will warn you about dangerous fake web sites
  • See webpages more clearly - the ClearType option attempts to make text easier to read. If you find it makes it too blurry you can turn it off later
  • Help customize webpages to your current location - you can choose your region and language to help web sites show location-specific content
  • Help improve Internet Explorer - this collects data as you use IE 7, although it should be anonymous it is recommended you leave this blank

Now click Save Settings.

On the next screen you have three choices: take a quick tour to learn about IE 7's new features, choose to install optional plug-ins, or go straight to your homepage.

If you choose the plug-ins option you will be taken to www.ieaddons.com where you can download add-ons that improve browsing, such as tools for filling out forms automatically, media players and download managers.

Navigating IE 7

The new-look IE 7 includes some big changes to the menus and icons so it's worth spending a little time learning what they are. You can do this by holding your mouse over the menu buttons and reading their descriptions.

The Forward and Back arrows remain in the top left and there is also a drop-down list of recent pages. Below these are the Favorites Center and Add To Favorites buttons for managing your site bookmarks.

The Stop and Refresh page buttons now appear to the right of the Address bar.

A new feature for IE7 is the RSS feed icon which shows you any RSS news feeds available on the site you are visiting. If there is a feed available the icon will appear orange. To add a feed to your subscriptions, click the down arrow by the icon to select a feed and then click Subscribe to this feed.


You will notice the typical Windows file menus no longer appear in IE 7 (though you can bring them back by pressing the ALT key), and there have been other changes too - for example, the old View menu is now the Page menu.

In the Page menu there are options for changing Text Size (which you can also do by holding the CTRL key, and then either using the + and - keys or your mousewheel) and also an option to Zoom which allows you to magnify part of a web page. The Zoom option also appears at the bottom-right of the screen on the Status Bar.

You can access your browser settings by clicking on the Tools menu. Click Windows Update to get the latest security updates for Windows. Click Internet Options to access a range of options including the ability to set your homepage. Click on the Advanced tab for more detailed options.

If you have ClearType on and you do find text is too blurry, un-tick Always use ClearType for HTML under the Multimedia section on the Advanced tab. Click OK to save your settings. You will need to close then restart IE 7 for the change to take effect.

Tabbed Browsing

Tabbed browsing is a feature new to Internet Explorer but common in other browsers such as Firefox and Opera.

This allows you to open multiple web pages in the same IE window that you can switch between by clicking on their respective tabs at the top of the screen.

To try this, instead of left-clicking a web page link, right-click it and select Open in New Tab, or alternatively press your middle mouse button.

A new page will be opened but your current page will still be on-screen. You can access the new page by clicking on the new tab which appears at the top above the page, and has the page's title. To close the tab, click the X button on the tab or right-click and Close.

You can keep one tab open and close all others by right-clicking it and selecting Close Other Tabs.

To the left of the tabs is an icon called Quick Tabs which appears when you have more than one tab open. Click this to see at a glance all the pages you have open.

If you try to close IE 7 when you have multiple tabs open you will be asked if you are sure you want to close all the pages you have open.

Managing Favorites

Favorites have also changed in IE 7. Now there is a Favorites Center for organizing your site bookmarks.

Click the Favorites Center button at the top left of the screen and the Favorites window will appear over the left of the site you are visiting. To fix it in a separate window pane away from the page as in IE 6, click the Pin the Favorites Center button in the top right of the Favorites Center window.

You can use the History drop-down menu to find sites you have visited before.

To add a site to your Favorites list, right-click the page and select Add to Favorites, or click the Add to Favorites button at the top left of the screen.

Printing

Printing has been improved in IE 7. Now pages will be automatically resized so that all content fits on the printed page.

You can set margins, paper size and orientation by clicking the drop down arrow to the right of the Print icon and then selecting Page Setup.

You can also remove the header and footer from the printed page.

Security

There are a number of new security features that have been introduced in IE 7, to make this a much safer browser than IE 6 which had many security flaws and vulnerabilities.

The built-in Pop-up Blocker prevents pop-up advertising windows, and the Phishing Filter lets you know if you are visiting a site that is a security risk and may attempt to trick you into giving your personal information.

The Address bar will change colour to show if a web site might be dangerous - yellow means you should proceed with caution, whereas red indicates a known phishing site and you should not proceed.

The Padlock icon which used to appear on the status bar below a web page now appears next to the address bar. Clicking on the Padlock gives you more information about the site to help you decide if it is safe to use.

You can clear your browsing history at the end of a session by clicking on the Tools menu then Delete Browsing History.

You can then choose what to delete - your History of visited sites, Passwords, data entered in Forms, Cookies which save your web site preferences, or Temporary Internet Files.

Temporary Internet Files are web site files - such as images and media - that are stored so that the same files do not have to be redownloaded each time you visit a site.

However, these temporary files can build up over time and end up using unnecessary disk space, so it is worth deleting these occasionally.

Although Internet Explorer 7 is a much safer browser than previous versions, it is still important to make sure you install dedicated Internet security software and keep it up-to-date.

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