8 Tips To Improve Your IE 8 Experience

Yeah yeah yeah … blah blah blah STFU! IE 8 has a much better UX compared to alternatives that bring the whole PC to a screeching stand still every now & then (refer blog disclaimer – top right). Accelerators in particular, are quite helpful & do accelerate some processes. Having said that I’ll agree that Internet Explorer isn’t there yet. It’s got some quirks & I suffered hugely due to one of them. I lost my Facebook vanity URL ‘coz of it. Anyway, don’t trust those  super-duper intellectually intelligent hardcore geeks (read: idiots) who think that Firefox is the only browser that supports add-ons. If you’re an Internet Explorer 8 user, here are some tips to better your experience:

1. Use Two Search Engines:

Bing is good, Gooogle is nice … with IE you can use both at the same time. Here’s how to get it:

Set either Bing or Google as your default search engine. This would give you Search results for queries you type in the address bar & will also set the same search provider in the search box. The fun part is that you can choose another engine for your search box. So the way I’ve set it is:

  • Google is default, hence address bar search results are provided by Google.
  • Bing is the engine for the Search box, so queries I type there come from Bing.

Result, power of both engines from within the same browser window!

2. Login to multiple twitter/email accounts simultaneously

This one is actually pretty neat. So say you want to login to two twitter accounts or two gmail accounts at the same time, all you need to do is:

File -> New Session

A new window will open that’ll start a new session allowing you to login to multiple accounts simulatneously.

3. X-Marks

Formerly know as Foxmarks & was available only for Firefox it has now spanned to include IE, Chrome & Safari (only on OS X). I was relieved from all suffering caused by the bloatware once Xmarks started supporting IE. So, this add-on allows you to have your bookmarks stored on a server somewhere in the cloud so that they can be accessed:

  • from anywhere
  • and can be restored incase the need arises


XMarks for Internet Explorer

4. IE7Pro

Though some of you might’ve heard about it, it’s been around since the days of IE 7, it works quite well with IE8 as well. Here are some handy features that you’ll get & you can enable using IE7Pro are:

  1. Spell Checker (don’t know why this isn’t there by default.)
  2. Block Flash (option under Ad Block) – it will show you a place holder for the flash& you can enable it by clicking on the place holder.
  3. Copy image URL in context menu. (This is something begged for!)
  4. Download Manager (why this is not there, even Bill Gates won’t know.)
  5. Deeper tab control (I don’t use it but the feature is pretty neat.)
  6. GreaseMonkey alternative in the form of User Scripts.

Of course there are a lot more options available, so go through them. And don’t be surprised if tabs start opening for everything, you can turn that off. Some screenshots:

Base Modules:

IE7 Pro on IE8

User Scripts:

Run Greasemonkey scripts in IE8

Download Manager:

Download Manager for IE8

Note: For using GreaseMonkey scripts the extension needs to be *.ieuser.js & all scripts don’t necessarily work.

5. Map Tab Processes

This is for g33ky ones.

Honestly, there should’ve been a better way of doing this but someone at Redmond didn’t want it. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. If you know (which I hope you do) IE8 has separate processes under Task Manager for each tab which is pretty darn awesome, however you can’t know what tab is which process. The work-around maps tab to process whereas I’d prefer a process to tab mapping. I’m safely assuming that this won’t work when all of IE is frozen because it’s a tab to process.

To do this, you’ll need to get Process Explorer from Sysinternals

Then do the following to know what tab is which process:

  1. Start Process Explorer
  2. Click on the icon highlighted in the screenshot and drag it onto the tab in IE.

    Process Explorer to find IE tab process

The IE row highlighted in Process Explorer now is the process related to that particular tab. You’ll have to first open the tab to see which process it is. I hope now you understood what I meant by tab to process & why it won’t work if IE altogether comes to a standstill. :)
6. Increase IE’s performance

You must’ve noticed the ‘Connecting…’ that appears every time you create a new tab, this is because IE is creating a new process in the backgrond, to reduce this time drastically & if you’re running short on time & want to load a few pages quickly do the following:

Start -> Run -> “iexplore.exe” -extoff

Watch IE8 blaze through opening tabs. It works ;)

To create a permanent shortcut to start IE in this mode, do the following:

  • Right click on desktop
  • New -> Shortcut
  • “C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe” -extoff
  • Next & Finish
7. Configuring InPrivate In IE8
8. Search in IE 8

Some external links:

IE’s add-on repository

IE8 Accelerator Gallery

IE8 Webslice Gallery

IE isn’t that bad after all, eh?