IE 7 and add-ons

By Team Digit Published Date
01 - Mar - 2008
| Last Updated
01 - Mar - 2008
IE 7 and add-ons

IE 7 and add-ons

The latest version of Internet Explorer has significantly evolved from its earlier iterations with enhanced features, improved security and crispier looks.

In terms of extending the features of the basic browser, IE 7 can be coupled with add-ons, which though not as numerous as Firefox, still does a pretty good job.


IE 7 has newer features and more options when it comes to organising your favourites. The Favorite items represented by a bright yellow five-pointed star.


The bookmark toolbar is very useful for obvious reasons, but there is no such toolbar enabled by default in IE 7. To enable it, hit the [Alt] key and go to View > Toolbars > Links. Drag and drop the icons from the address bar or even a link from a Web page. The new links are visible once you click on the arrow at the extreme right of the toolbar. Deleting the bookmarks is as easy as right clicking and then clicking on the Delete button.


Similar to Firefox, Microsoft has thankfully ditched its Windows Live Search functionality by allowing users to use other search engines. To use this function, click on the arrow labelled Search Options, which is located at the right of the search box. A drop down menu will appear, with options for adding other search engines. Click on the Find More Providers. Select from a list of search engines comprising Google, Ask, Lycos, Wikipedia and Amazon. Click on any of these to install them. Although the list is long, in case you don’t find your favourite search engine, enter the URL in the text field to install it to your browser.

Now use search engines of your choice

If you have disabled the Google toolbar, you can search for any item without typing it in the search box. Just type your search string in the address bar itself. If it consists of more than one word, the Google search page will be displayed automatically with all the results. Depending on the string, if an exact match is found the browser redirects you to the first result, otherwise accessible by the “I am feeling lucky” button.

Manage Add-ons

Apart from third party add-ons, which you can install for productivity, IE comes with add-ons such as Java and Adobe Reader. Whenever you notice a reduction in browsing speeds, check the memory consumed by IE in the Task Manager. In case it’s extremely high, disable all the add-ons installed from Tools > Internet Options > Programs > Manage add-ons. However, you need Windows XP Service Pack 2 installed for this. Look through the list and disable all add-ons such as Browser Helper Objects and Browser Extensions. You can enable these later, if you want to. Also, be a little more wary while installing add-ons that are ActiveX objects. These have the nasty reputation of triggering security holes.

Editing The Registry

There are certain hacks in the registries that can make IE 7 look more like IE6 in terms of the positioning of the menu bar. Proceed with care: the usual statutory warnings when it comes to registry editing apply here.

Old look in the new browser

Go to Start > Run and type regedit. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Toolbar \WebBrowser and click on it to view the contents on the pane. Right click on the WebBrowser item and use Select > New > DWORD. Name the DWORD ITBar7Position and hit [Enter]. Double click on the new value and assign a value of 00000001. Make it a hexadecimal value. Close the editor, and restart IE 7 to see this view when you enable the menu bar.


When you need to print a Web page and you have to adjust the settings for headers, footers and margins, click on File > Page Setup. Click on Page Setup with the [Alt] key pressed. In the pop up, type in your measurements for the page setup, which are in inches. For changing them to millimetres, go to Control Panel > Region and Language Options. You can also change the size settings to A3, A4 and A5 and also choose between Portrait and Landscape options. In the Header and Footer section, there are some operators such as &w, &b and &p. A complete list of the variable is given above. These variables can be also combined in the header and footer fields. Finally, use File > Print Preview to view the changes.

Add-ons For IE

In our past articles we have talked about add-ons for IE 7. Here, we are going to touch on a few nifty ones:

IE7 Open Last Closed Tab: This is a common problem for users of IE 7 who savour the Tabbed windows. Clicking on the X and all your open tabs close. This add-on will come in handy for such accidents. It creates a shortcut [Ctrl] [X] that lets you undo the closed tab. This is a free extension and can be downloaded from http://tinyurl. com/3yzhlv

Inline Search: This add-on mimics the find as you type functionality of Firefox. Press [Ctrl] [F], and a toolbar will appear at the bottom of the browser window.

Now mimic Firefox’s [Ctrl] [F]

All the instances of your search string are highlighted in the window. There are still some important shortcuts to remember: Esc closes the search pane, [F3] or [Enter] takes you to the next occurrence while [Shift] [F3] or [Shift] [Enter] will take you back. This add-on is free. Get it from

GooglePreviewIE: This add on is a boon for product and image searches. Also present in Firefox, this toolbar shows image previews of Web pages when you run a Google search. This is not an official Google offering like Google Toolbar. Get it from

WOT for IE: With incidences like online fraud and phishing on the rise, it is very important to know the reputation of a site beforehand. WOT (Web of Trust) is such an extension that constantly checks any Website you open, against a community submitted list and displays its appropriate ratings.

View image previews of search results with GooglePreviewIE

This is based on a colour code, with green being highly reputed and red being potentially dangerous. After installing this add-on from download/ie, check the top right corner of your browser window.

The different colour codes in WOT

Monitor the colour of the ring as you keep browsing. In case you come across a Website that you suspect is harmful you can also submit the link for potential inclusion into the list of malicious sites.
IE’s Compatibility Issues

IE 7 has started to adopt Web standards for rendering HTML elements, in contrast to the previous versions that had a plethora of standard-related issues. However, due to an almost 90 per cent share of the browser market, most Web developers had to hack their source code in “illegal” ways so that their rendering would not be broken. Many sites you will visit on the WWW have still not updated their code, and will be rendered horribly, with fonts and links askew. A registry hack can allow you to display such sites in IE7 with IE6’s default behavior.

Go to Start > Run, type regedit and press [Enter]. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\5.0\User Agent. Right-click on the white space and select New > String Value. Name the string Version. Right-click on the new value and select Modify. Insert MSIE 6.0, close the registry editor and restart IE. All sites will now be rendered properly.

Speed Up IE

Like Firefox, IE is very slow to load pages. There are various reasons for this: the number of simultaneous connections that IE makes with the server is limited and it also keeps searching for network shares and printers. There are some registry tweaks to get around this problem and significantly improve your Internet browsing experience.

In the Registry editor, go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/Current Version/Explorer/RemoteComputer/NameSpace/{D6277990-4C6A-11CF-8D87-00AA0060F5BF} and delete the key named Printers. That ought to do the trick.

For opening up to 16 simultaneous connections with the remote server, and hence pushing your speeds up considerably, you need to modify (or create, if they don’t exist) two values in the registry. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_ USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings and check these two DWORD values: MaxConnectionPer1_0Server and MaxConnectionsPerServer. Change their values to 0000010 and 00000010 respectively. After doing the customary restart you will notice increase in browsing speeds.

Normalizing The Size Of A New Window

IE 7 has this annoying behaviour where clicking on a link in sites causes another window to open in the middle of the screen. Most people maximise this window by clicking on the Maximize button. However, the next time you open a link the same behaviour is repeated.

There is a simple tweak to get rid of this behaviour. Whenever you open a new link in a new window stretch the window so that it covers 100 per cent of the desktop. Restart IE again and click on the links. You should see the new window open full size.


Soundforge, a proprietary audio editing package by Sony, is used by professionals as well as amateurs to insert audio effects to sound tracks, repair damaged tracks, master and mix them and perform encoding tasks.

Soundforge graphically displays music

Costing between US$299.95 to US$319.95 (approximately Rs. 12000 to Rs. 12800), depending on the packaging offered, they also offer a 30 day free trial—get it on this month’s DVD. Whenever you open a file in Soundforge, the track is displayed in a series of waves and troughs, resembling seismograms. From the graph, you could figure out regions with either a high pitch or, say, low bass.


You enjoy a particular soundtrack, but don’t want to hear the applause at the start and end of the track? Just open the track from the Open menu and hit the play button. Once you encounter the regions in the soundtrack where the clapping and whooping takes place, use the cursor to select them and hit the delete button. On the other hand, if you want to retain only a particular part of the file, and cut the rest out, go to Edit > Trim/Crop.

Options in the edit menu

The Effects menu has additional options to manipulate files. All these effects, when used sensibly and combined together, can mean the difference between a professionally edited track and an amateur recording.

This was the waveform before the envelope was applied

…and after. Notice the difference in the waveform

Each option has several sub options, and detailing them would exceed the available space. Take, for instance, the Envelope option (Effects > Envelope). Envelope is a tool used to make the soft parts sound louder and lower the volume of the louder parts. You can adjust the volume depending on some preset parameters. It is used when you need to give different types of “fade” effects. You have custom effects provided, however by using the graph you can create your own effects. The waveform changes when the envelope effect is applied as you can see from the screenshots here.


Many audio tracks, which would otherwise sound awesome, remain unheard and unappreciated because of an unfortunate problem during recording. Now with noise reduction tools available, you don’t need to bury your recordings of that baby talk because of honking in the background. Use the noise reduction tool from Tools > Noise Reduction to get rid of all external noise.

This tool provides options for removing external noise

There are options such as Noise bias, Attack speed and Windowing overlap. All these options reduce the external noise. The best way to edit, for newbies, at least, is by trial and error—tweak around the sliders and preview the effect each time. When you are satisfied with the output, hit the OK button.

Mix And Match

What’s the difference between DJs and us? They mix music, we don’t. Mixing audio tracks may sound a bit intimidating, but it’s as easy as a copy-paste operation.

Mixing two or more tracks in Soundforge

Open all the tracks that you want to mix in the main window. Hit the File > New button for opening a new workspace where the final mixed track will appear. For further convenience, go to the Windows menu and choose either the Align Horizontally or Align Vertically option that will align all the windows. After you have decided on the particular sections of the tracks that will go into your mixed track, use the cursor to select them and paste them in the empty workspace. Finally, use the Mix option to combine the tracks, and you’re done!


For some specific purposes, the Replicator function is another nifty tool. If you need to extract a specific portion of audio, say about 10 seconds from a 5 minute clip the Replicator is precisely the tool you need.

Selecting the section to be replicated

The final effect

Or say you need to replace certain sections of the audio with repetitive sounds. Copy the audio that you need to replicate, and go to Edit > Paste Special > Replicate. Select either Copy Partials, if you want to fill the selected region completely with effects. Whole Copies option means that only an integral number of replications will occur.


Sometimes you need a reference CD for a quick sampling of how your final effect sounds. A third-party CD burning tool such as Nero can be quite inconvenient for a quick burn. Go to Tools > Burn Track-at-Once Audio CD and select the options like burning speed. The Track-at-Once is similar to a multi-session disc, where more tracks can be added later.

Limit Yourself

When you are mastering or editing a digital soundtrack, you need to take care of distortions. It might not sound very bad when you are wielding the scissors, but it will sound chalk-scratching-the-blackboard bad if you don’t pay attention and get the final result burned on a CD. This can be prevented by monitoring and limiting the amplitude of the audio signal. From Effects > Wave Hammer, click on the Volume Maximizer tab.

The waveform before using the volume control function

There are a host of presets to choose from, while the sliders would enable you to manually adjust settings such as selecting the maximum and minimum sound levels in decibels. After you are done, click OK and you have the perfect track—nice and tidy within the limits you’ve specified.

Mono Sound

While stereophonic sound is all well and good, sometimes you might need to know how your fantabulous track sounds in the Mono mode. This is needed in certain applications, especially broadcasting where there are plenty of TVs and radios running on mono speakers. The stereo sounds can be changed to mono by using the Process > Channel Converter option.

Channel converter presets

Apart from converting from stereo to mono, you can perform other tasks such as reversing the left and right channels and inter-mixing them.

Batch Work

In some cases, you might need to apply the same effects to multiple tracks. Such tasks call for the use of the Batch Converter. Go to Tools > Batch Converter and select the files that need you to apply the effects. Select the effects to be applied, the format in which the files are to be saved and finally hit the Run Job in the Status window to start the conversion.

Different formats available for saving


Soundforge is among the best sound editing software out there. Even though it is incredibly complex, it can be used from the absolute amateur to the polished professional. You need to practice a lot in order to master sound editing. However, with tools such as Soundforge and slight added effort, you no longer have to run to an audio parlour for your home-made videos
and audio.


Here is another round of Vista tips, served piping hot. As usual, backup your registry before trying any of the registry hacks.

Defrag Faster

We have talked about the importance of defragmenting your hard drive earlier, but the fact remains that defragmentation takes up too much time. However, a free tool bundle is going to change that sad story. Download Power Defragmenter from It is a user interface for a powerful disk utility named called Contig, which lets you defragment single files instead of blocks and sectors. Run the Power Defragmenter GUI and you will arrive at the screen shown.

Options for defragmenting

The Defragment File(s) option lets you defragment up to four files, while Defragment Folder(s) lets you defragment up to four folders. You can also choose to defragment your entire hard drive. The process is very fast—the 82-minute defragment time for 25 GB in Vista Ultimate is cut down to just six minutes!

Resize Partitions

You can resize partitions in Vista without losing any data; start by backing up important data: it pays to be careful. Right-click on Computer and select Manage. Go to Disk Management under Storage and right-click on the partition you want to shrink. Click on Shrink Volume in the menu and voila: you have shrunk the disk.

Shrinking disk space in Vista

Tweak Search Options

Windows Vista’s search is completely revamped, and looks different when compared to XP. It also has more search options—different from the vanilla ones provided in XP.

Various options in search

Right-click on Start > Properties > Start Menu and click on the Customize button. A window pops up where you will be able to select the way searches can be made in your Vista Start box. The Search Communications option searches the files in Windows Mail and Contacts. Search Favourites and History searches the IE favourites and history. Search Files has further options: you can either choose to search the whole computer, or only files that you have created yourself. The final option is Search Programs. Depending on your preferences, searches will be done faster, or might even take more time than usual.

Trim The Control Panel

The number of control panel items that we have to access regularly is miniscule. There is no sense in displaying all the icons as this slows down the loading time before you get to access the panel.

Tweaking the Control Panel

The unused icons can be hidden by using the Group Policy Editor.

Go to Start and type gpedit.msc in the search bar. Go to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Hide Specified Control Panel Items / Show Specified Control Panel Items. After enabling it, click on Show and type the name of the icon you want to hide or show. That has to be done exactly as written, with proper attention to case.  

Make ReadyBoost Default

ReadyBoost is a disk caching technology that kicks in when you attach USB flash drives. This optimises your system performance and is should be automatically switched on if you’re short on system memory and want to use a flash drive. However, no software is that intelligent, and in some cases this feature is not enabled automatically. A registry hack can, however change the way Vista deploys this feature. Proceed at your own risk.

Go to Start > My Computer > Right click on device > Properties > ReadyBoost. Select Stop retesting the device when I plug it in. Remove the device and open the registry editor—Start > type regedit in the search box. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/ Microsoft/Windows-NT/ CurrentVersion/EMDgmt and change these registry values: Device Status to 2, ReadSpeedKBs to 1000 and WriteSpeedKBs to 1000. Restart the machine, and ReadyBoost should be enabled every time.

Get Widgets From The Net

Widgets and Google Gadgets can liven up a Web site. If you are a fan of any particular widget and you want to use it in Vista, you can now install these widgets in your Sidebar. For that, first download the Amnesty Generator from (or get it off our October 2007 CD). After you have installed the program, get the source code of your favourite widgets and paste the HTML code in the space indicated by Step2.

Use Amnesty Generator to get your favourite widgets off the Internet

You might also want to tweak with the HTML code a little to optimise the size parameters. Besides, you can also input the size in the boxes provided. Select an image for your widget and click on Generate. The Widget will be placed in your sidebar, and you will be able to check the daily weather, play games, get the latest stock quotes etc. In case you want to further fiddle with the gadget click on Start and type %userprofile%\Appdata\Local\ Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\ gadgets in the search box. This will take you to the folder where the widgets are stored.

Registry Hacks

Here are some useful hacks for Windows Vista. As usual, back up your registry before you try them.

To change the name of the registered user or company, browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\ CurrentVersion and look for RegisteredOwner and RegisteredOrganization. Double click on them and change the values

If you have a sufficiently powerful machine and love the animations in Vista, you might want to slow them down a bit. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\ Microsoft\Windows\DWM. Once there, create a new key by right clicking on the space below existing keys and choose New > DWORD (32 bit) Value. Call it AnimationShiftKey and enter the value as 1. After rebooting the machine, whenever you want to slow down the animations, press the [Shift] key before it starts.

Encrypting and decrypting files in Vista is a multi-click process which takes a fair bit of navigating. With a registry hack, this task can be done with a simple right-click. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Explorer/Advanced and create a new 32-bit DWORD. Call it EncryptionValue and use the value as 1 there. After the system is restarted, you can get encrypting with just a right-click.

Speeding up Flip3D: Eye candy is well and good, but not all of us have top-of-the-line graphic cards to render all the slick effects. This hack will limit the number of windows that are rendered in 3D, which will hopefully let you have your cake and eat it too. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\ Microsoft\Windows\DWM and create a new DWORD value called Max3DWindows. The value should be set to a number between 4 and 9: higher the number the more muscle your graphics card needs to pack. Try it out with different number values by opening multiple windows and checking out the difference.

Enabling Detailed Status Messages

Vista has a verbose mode which informs the user of what is going on behind the scenes when you are either logging in or shutting down. Click on Start and enter gpedit.msc in the search box. Navigate to Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System and locate the Verbose vs. Normal status messages. Right-click and enable it.

Enable NAS Devices In Vista

Vista is still not compatible with many regularly used peripherals, and network storage boxes are one of them. This trick will let you use NAS boxes without downloading any new drivers. In the Start search field, type secpol.msc. In the Local Security Policy editor, expand the Local Policies and select the Security option. Locate the item titled Network Security: LAN Manager Authentication Level and select Properties by right-clicking on the setting. The settings should be changed to Send LM & NTML—use NTLMv2 session security if negotiated. The incompatible NAS box will work now.
Get Detailed Statistics

The Windows Experience Score indicates how well your system is running, but it is at a superficial level. Advanced users need to use Microsoft’s Management Console to find out the state of the OS. To access this tool, right-click on Computer and select Manage > Reliability and Performance > Reliability Monitor. The detailed graphs show stability indices that determine how stable your system is at any point. Red circles show stages where failure has occurred, with a detailed description on which process had gone belly up. As a troubleshooting tool, this is pretty neat.

The Reliability Monitor provides detailed system diagnostics

Quickly Transfer Photos

Transferring photos from a digital camera involves quite a bit of mouse clicks. Even if the photos are copied to the computer, they remain on the camera’s memory card. The Windows Photo Gallery can do this transfer-then-erase function in one go. After the camera is detected and before you start to transfer your photos, select File > Options > Import > Always erase from camera after importing. This will clean out your camera memory, essentially completing a cut-paste operation.

Easily transfer photos and manage camera memory

Set Core Priority

In machines with multiple cores, most tasks are divided amongst the cores so that the computer can run multiple operations at the same time. There is a performance lag to this system, as running on multiple cores can cause processes to slow down a bit due to data transfer issues between the cores. This is particularly true for programs that make heavy demands on the CPU. In effect the whole computer slows down to a crawl as this affects other programs too. However in Vista you can set a process to run on a single core. Go to the Task Manager and select the process which is hogging all system resources. Right-click on it and select Set Affinity. You can now restrict the process to one of the cores and improve the overall speed.

Restrict processes to specific cores

Get Multiple Clocks

Vista can display more than one clock—a total of three clocks actually.

Get multiple clocks in the System Tray

To enable this feature from the Control Panel, click on Date and Time and go to the Additional Clocks tab. You can set different time zones along with a display name for each. After you click OK these clocks will be visible when the cursor is placed over the default clock.

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