There are quite a few changes you can make
on the General Tab of the Internet Options dialogue box. First, you'll
learn how to change your Home Page. But if your browser is really crawling
along, or odd things are happening when surfing the internet, then you'll need
to know how to Delete Temporary Internet Files, how to Clear Cookies, and how to
make sure you get the latest version of a website. So bring up the Internet
Options dialogue box (see the link above for how to do this), and we'll begin.
How to change your Home Page
When a browser like Internet Explorer is
first started up, its default behavior is to go immediately to a web page.
Which web page it tries to go to is the one on the General tab of the Internet
Options dialogue box:
The area highlighted in blue, under Home
Page, is the internet site that you will be taken to when Internet Explorer
first starts. In the image, we've set it to go to google.co.uk.
If you don't want Internet Explorer to go to
any web pages at all when it starts up, click the button Use Blank. (This is
useful if you're creating web pages, and just want to test them out.) Clicking
the Use Blank button will change the text box to this:
If you see this in the Home Page text box
then you should be looking at a blank white page when Internet Explorer starts.
However, there is a notorious browser hijacker called about:blank. If,
when Internet Explorer starts, you see any pop up windows telling you about
Spyware and how to remove it then you've probably been infected. (Please don't
buy anything from these people!)
If you are infected, then you may also
notice a slow internet connection. Other symptoms are search areas with "Quick
Web Search", "Search for ", or "Search The Web". What the creators of this
Spyware are trying to do is to re-route all your internet searches through to
their own paid listings, or serve you up lots of ads scaring you into buying
something. You may also get an unwanted toolbar in Internet Explorer. To cure
the problem, try this web site:
But to change your Home Page to something
else, do the following:
- Close down the
Internet Options dialogue box and navigate to the web site that you want
explorer to go to when it first opens
- Once you have the
page open, click Tools from the menu bar
- From the Tools menu,
select Internet Options:
- Once you see the
Internet Options box, click the button that says Use Current.
- Your text box should
now display the address of your chosen web site
- Click OK
- Close down Internet
Explorer, and then open it back up again. Do you see your chosen website?
If you don't see your chosen web site, but
some other page instead, then there's a very strong possibility that your
computer has become infected with Spyware. See the internet page above for
removal of Spyware (scroll down until you see the links).
Clean up your Browser Files
When you surf the web, Internet Explorer
stores a copy of your sites in an area called Temporary Internet Files.
It will also store things like images and scripts. This is to speed up your web
surfing. If you're not on a fast broadband connection, this can be a real help.
If you don't clean out your Temporary Internet Files, however, they can be a bit
of a hindrance. As well as occupying lots of space on your hard drive, some
malicious web pages can cause you problems.
To clean the folder, though, you need this
area on the General tab of the Internet Options dialogue box:
Click the button Delete Files, and
you'll see this box:
Put a check in the box "Delete all offline
content", if you want to really spring clean. Then click OK. If you have a lot
of files the in the Temporary folder, then it may take a few minutes to complete
the deletion process. Make yourself a cup of coffee, and wait for XP to finish!
To see more Options, click the
button. You'll then see this:
You may think that you are getting the
latest page from a site like ours. But if you have Never selected under
"Check for newer versions of stored pages", then you may be missing out. That's
because of something called caching. If a web site is on a server in say
the UK, and you're in the US, then the first time that you visit the site, a
copy will be held on a computer (server) near to you. The copy is said to be
held in a cache. The next time that you visit the site, you may just get
the copy (the cached version). Select the option "Every visit to the page" to
ensure that you're getting the version from the original computer that the web
site is held on (at least, that's the theory).
In the image above, you can also change how
much of your hard disk space that XP uses to store the Temporary Internet files.
If yours is really big, perhaps in the Gigabytes, then you'll definitely want to
change this. Move the slider to the left, to adjust the size downward. In the
image, we've gone for only 400 megabytes. But even this may be too much for
Clicking the button View Files will
bring up the folder containing all of the files and folders in Temporary
If you've never deleted your Temporary
Internet Files then there could be quite a lot to see. (Hopefully, there won't
be any nasty surprises lurking there!)
The View Objects button brings up a
screen containing something called Browser Helper Objects. Expect to see things
like Flash, Java, and Shockwave. These help Internet explorer to display things
like animations created for the Flash Player. Or even help to display Adobe
Acrobat PDF documents, Microsoft Word, and Excel files. But this folder can also
contain some very unhelpful Browser Helper Objects. If you've become infected
with Spyware it may place its own items here. The following site is a free check
for Internet Explorer issues. If you have any parasites on your PC, it should
http://www.doxdesk.com/parasite (Copy and paste into a web browser
to visit this link.)
The site will also give you information
about the parasite, and removal instructions. But it can't check for everything
Clear your Browsing and Address Bar History
You can clear the Address bar of website in
the drop down list. This usually appears when you start typing an web site
address. Select an address from the list to go to that page. However, if you
have embarrassing websites on the list, they are there for all to see. To clear
your Address bar list, click the button Clear History:
If you don't want any addresses appearing in
the drop down list at all, then set the value to 0 next to "Days to keep pages
Also on the General tab of the Internet
Options dialogue box, you'll see these buttons:
The buttons allow you to change the colors
of hyperlinks on a web page from the usual blue to a color of your choice. You
can also set which fonts and font sizes for all the text on web pages.
In the next part, we'll take a look at the
Security tab of the Internet Options dialogue box.