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August 29, 2008

Customize IE8 Beta 2 to fit your needs

In Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 – users get some added customization benefits to the Internet Explorer layout I think folks will enjoy. To many folks, being able to customize the browser controls is very important. So I’ve got some customization tips for IE8 Beta 2 I’d like to share with you.

If you right-click on the IE8 toolbar area, you can uncheck the “Lock the Toolbars” option. This allows you to use your mouse to move the Command Bar and Favorites Bar. There are a variety of places you can move these around in the IE8 toolbar area.

In the top screenshot, you can see that I moved the Command Bar to be on the same level as the Favorites Bar. I can customize how much space either the Command Bar or the Favorites Bar use on that level. I can give the Favorites Bar more room or give it less for the Command Bar. In the middle screenshot, I was able to move the Favorites Bar onto the level shared by IE8’s Tabs. Essentially this is switching the Favorites Bar and Command Bar from the default configuration. And in the third screenshot, I was able to hide the Favorites Bar and “make IE8 look like IE7”. You can also hide the Command Bar as well if you wish. And for those who like having the Menu Bar (File, Edit, etc) you can right click on the IE8 toolbar area and choose “Menu Bar” to have that appear.

I was also able to move the Favorites button down to the Tabs level – separating it from the Favorites Bar. This is neat because it gives some added room for additions to the Favorites Bar if needed.

Another new customization option for IE8 is the ability to choose to have the Stop and Refresh buttons appear before the Smart Address Bar instead of after.

Have you ever wanted to quickly close a 3rd party toolbar you have installed in Internet Explorer? IE8 provides an excellent way of quickly closing those toolbars. When you activate a toolbar (you can activate a installed toolbar by right-clicking on the toolbar area and choosing the toolbar you wish to have appear) you’ll notice a new “x” icon appear next to it on the left. When you click this “x” it turns off that toolbar (by turning it off – it disappears from the toolbar area in IE8).

I recently installed the Microsoft Live Labs Listas Toolbar. When I no longer wanted the Listas Toolbar to show up in IE8, I just clicked the “x” and it disappeared. I can choose to activate it again later when I need it. My personal preference is to keep my browser clean of toolbars. However I know many people who enjoy the added benefit to their browsing experience that many toolbars offer – a good example is the Windows Live Toolbar. I have toolbars installed just not configured to show up all the time. I activate them when I want to use then and deactivate them when I’m done.

And my last little tip for customizing IE8 may or may not be of any value to you.

When you put your mouse in the area *between* the inline search box and the Smart Address Bar – you’ll notice you can increase or decrease the amount of space the search box has. Here is my search box before:

Here it is after:

I decided I wanted a little more room for my search box.

I hope these customization tips help you customize IE8 to be the way you want it to be. I guess I’m boring though – I personally keep things as they are by default in IE 😉