8 top tips for IE 7

Must-try tips, tricks and hacks for getting the most out of Microsoft's latest browser

Don't like the way Internet Explorer 7 looks or works? Then change it. There are plenty of ways you can hack it, tweak it or just make it simpler to use. In this article, you'll find out how to speed up IE's display of Web sites, build your own Search Bar engine, get control over how IE prints Web pages, navigate with several essential keyboard shortcuts and more. These tips work in both Windows XP and Windows Vista. Some of the tips are quite simple to perform, while others are more advanced. Some even require Registry hacks.

1. Add your own search engine to IE

IE 7 comes with a variety of built-in search providers you can choose from the Search Bar in the browser's upper right-hand corner. It's easy to add more by clicking the down arrow on the far right of the bar, choosing Find More Providers and then adding them from the page that appears. But you're not stuck with the list of search providers (also called engines) that Microsoft supplies. You can build your own search engine and use it in IE's Search Bar to search through any site, no matter where you are on the Internet.

Note that this site doesn't have to be a search engine per se; any Web site that has search functionality will do. If you frequently look up items on sports, shopping or travel sites, for instance, you can create a search engine for that site and add it to the options in IE 7's Search Bar.

First, click the down arrow on the far right of the Search Bar, and choose Find More Providers. On the right-hand side of the page that appears, you'll see a Create Your Own section, as shown below.

In another tab, open up the site for which you want to create a search engine to use inside IE. In our example, we'll use www.computerworld.com.

In the site's search box, type in the word TEST, making sure to use all capital letters. After you do the search, copy the resulting URL from the Address Bar and paste it into the first field in the Create Your Own box on the page you've opened in your first tab.

In our example, the URL is:

http://www.computerworld.com/action/google
Search.do?cx=01483944045641886 424%3A-khvkt1
lc-e&q=TEST&cof=FORID%3A9#1150

Then, in the next field in the Create Your Own section, type in a name for your search engine. In our example, we'll call it Computerworld.

Click the Install button to install the new search provider into IE. You'll get a prompt asking you to confirm that you want to add it. Click Add Provider.

Note that the prompt gives the correct name of the site you're going to add, but next to From: it says www.microsoft.com instead of the site you chose. However, www.microsoft.com won't appear in the search engine you add.

Your new provider will now be available for you. Click the down arrow to the right of the Search Bar, and it will appear in the list of options, as you can see to the right. Use it as you would any other search engine.

2. Speed up IE's Web page loading

By default, IE allows only two simultaneous download sessions from a single Web server. This can affect the speed of your Web browsing, because you're not able to simultaneously download all the objects that make up a Web page, so the page displays more slowly. If you could force IE to download more objects at once, Web pages would display more quickly.

A tweak to the Windows Registry does the trick. With this tweak, you can force IE to use more than two simultaneous sessions. A good number is 10.

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Preston Gralla

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