Reset Internet Explorer Settings


Hello, we are Durga and Bala, from the IE IDC team. We would like to describe to you, a new feature in Internet Explorer 7 and 7+, Reset Internet Explorer Settings. We have heard from users on their need to recover Internet Explorer to a workable state if it reaches an unusable state due to spurious add-ons, incompatible browser extensions, spyware or malware. Reset Internet Explorer Settings (RIES) provides a one-button solution to get Internet Explorer settings to its workable state.

Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP and 7+ in Windows Vista have many security enhancements which make Internet Explorer less susceptible to spyware and malware. But still browsing experience in Internet Explorer can get affected by badly written add-ons. This feature allows Internet Explorer to recover from such situations.

After RIES is run, the user will notice default settings of Home Pages, Search Scopes, Browsing History, Form Data, Passwords, Appearance Settings, Toolbars, and ActiveX controls.

To invoke RIES from IE7 and IE7+, go to Tools Menu, Internet Options, Advanced Tab and click on Reset… button. If Internet Explorer is in a state where it cannot be started, one can get to RIES from Internet Options in Control Panel.

Internet Options - Reset IE Settings

After choosing Reset… from Internet Options, a confirmation dialog is displayed, warning the user about settings categories that will be reset during its operation. A help link on the dialog takes user to help pane explaining all settings that will be reset. When continued, a dialog provides feedback of progress on these categories and finally asks user to restart their Internet Explorer.

RIES resets four types of settings:

  1. Resets browser settings:  All user-defined browser settings (includes those set by installed extensions, toolbars, and other add-ons) are reset to Internet Explorer defaults.  If the user running RIES has Admin privileges, then corresponding machine settings under HKLM are also reset to Internet Explorer defaults.  These settings include all customizations which one can make to Internet Explorer through Internet Options. For example: Security settings, Privacy settings, and Zone settings.

  2. Resets Extensibility: All extensibility entry-points installed by the user are prevented from running automatically. Extensions that are loaded at IE startup (Toolbars, Browser Extensions, and Browser Helper Objects) are disabled; for ActiveX Controls their ActiveX Opt-in state is restored.

  3. Clears Browsing History: RIES also clears Temporary Internet Files, Cookies, Browsing History, Form data, passwords and auto-complete data.

  4. Re-applies Manufacturer Settings: RIES restores Internet Explorer customizations applied by the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) in the initial package applied to IE via IEAK (Internet Explorer Administrative Kit) or via the settings applied by OEMs during OS installation on the box.

Reset IE Settings dialog box

Notes on RIES:

  1. RIES resets all the user customizations from IE7. This also includes customizations done in IE6 and applied to IE7 after upgrade.

  2. RIES disables all toolbars, Browser extensions and Customizations installed by the user. In order to use any of these disabled customizations, users will need to selectively enable them through Manage Add-ons dialog. Some toolbars may require two or more controls to be enabled (their corresponding Browser Helper Object and toolbar extensions) to work properly. An easy way to accomplish this from Manage Add-ons dialog is to enable all disabled controls from a publisher you trust.

  3. For web-pages with ActiveX controls, the user will need to approve running specific ActiveX controls just as they did the first time these controls were encountered.

  4. RIES does not clear Favorites and Feeds.  It also does not reset Connection settings as the settings can be used from other programs.

  5. RIES does not affect Group Policy settings. All the Policies and Restrictions which are enforced by Administrators on a Domain are still respected in Internet Explorer after RIES. However, some policies that affect working of RIES are not respected while RIES is in progress. For e.g. even if Group Policy to “Turn off Delete Browsing History functionality” is enabled, RIES will go ahead and clear Temporary Internet Files. The policy will continue to work after RIES by disabling UI entry points to Delete Browsing History, but from within RIES context this GP is not in effect.

  6. Administrators can reset Internet Explorer settings of all users by running RIES with admin privileges.  This affects browsing experience of users both currently using IE and those who open a new browsing session.  Hence, we suggest RIES by administrator be a planned action communicated to all affected users.

  7. Many applications interact with Internet Explorer and may launch or embed it as needed.   For example, Outlook opens Internet Explorer when a user clicks on a hyperlink in an email. Such interactions with IE in the middle of an RIES operation can lead to unexpected results; hence we highly recommend closing all other applications and windows before running RIES.

  8. If one or more of RIES tasks fail (identified by an X against the task in Progress dialog), the details of failed actions are logged. The logs files, ried.log and brndlog.txt, can be found in %USERPROFILE%Local SettingsApplication DataMicrosoftInternet Explorer.

In our experience, for machines where Internet Explorer is in a bad state, the most common request is to make recovery easy and automated. RIES is a step in that direction. We welcome your feedback to improve upon its functionality.

– Durga, Bala

 

Comments (83)

  1. Nice feature… Hope it resets the default search to MSN too!

  2. Ragdoll says:

    This makes sound sense. It’s so obvious and yet sometimes it takes a while to actually think to implement something like this.

  3. Valery Tolkov says:

    Not directly related, but why does it always reset my toolbar customization? I’m trying to customize toolbar removing all these home/print/etc. icons. So I remove them, but after closing IE, they all are returned again to their places.

  4. Rob says:

    Is that ugly system font in the real dialog, or is it just a display anomaly/dodgy editing job?

    Rob

  5. game kid says:

    "Is that ugly system font in the real dialog, or is it just a display anomaly/dodgy editing job?"

    That’s the actual font.  I too wish good riddance of it.  At least Tahoma instead.  Or Trebuchet MS.

  6. Roman Rudenko says:

    You posted images in BMP format. Together, those two little shots weight a megabyte. Png or jpeg would make more sense.

  7. Arnaud says:

    Very good feature, just had to use it two days ago… Java installation crashed IE7+, I pushed the button and everything was OK !

  8. BMP screenshots?!

    Not funny.

  9. caeza says:

    Ummm… a patched UXTheme.dll in Microsoft’s PCs? That’s really funny!. What Visual Style are you using?

  10. Higher Animal! says:

    When Admins use this option, give them the option to make it for everyone (system wide) or just for themselves (local) – "Dad" may want to reset his settings, but may not want set "Mom" to her fiery side when all her settings get lost.

    Also, DO give warnings advising to shut down all programs that may have an "unknown effect" if they were running

    PS: I have not actually tested the Beta yet… these are just passing comments

  11. ieblog says:

    I have changed the screenshots to jpg format. Sorry for the huge download.

    -Anurag Jain [MSFT]

  12. Hudson says:

    I tested this function when i thought i had connectivity problems, it told me everything reset ok, but when now, everytime i open internet explorer i get the "Welcome to IE7 personalise your homepage" site(http://runonce.msn.com/runonce2.aspx)

    I cant apply any customisations as an error now appears (line 12. Char 9, Object not Found, Code:0,)

    Its a big pain in the bottom to say the least!

  13. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @Hudson: Interesting.  In Tools | Internet Options | Programs | Manage Addons, is there a disabled object named ShellUI Helper?

    You can probably work around this problem by using Regedit.  Start | Run | Regedit.exe.  Find HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftInternet ExplorerMain.  Edit (or create a new DWORD) named RunOnceHasShown and set its value to 1.

    Sorry for the inconvenience; we’ll try to repro this bug here.

  14. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @caeza: "What Visual Style are you using?"  

    I believe this is Windows Vista’s default Aero Basic without glass.

  15. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @caeza: "What Visual Style are you using?"  

    I believe this is Windows Vista’s default Aero Basic without glass.

  16. Lordmike says:

    7. Many applications interact with Internet Explorer and may launch or embed it as needed.   For example, Outlook opens Internet Explorer when a user clicks on a hyperlink in an email. Such interactions with IE in the middle of an RIES operation can lead to unexpected results; hence we highly recommend closing all other applications and windows before running RIES.

    I got questions about this one.

    What if my girlfriend activates a malicious code on some website because she has to click yes everywhere (trying to unlearn this) and some evil code brings up ads now and then for no apparent reason. What happens then?

    Before I reinstalled her windows xp, I closed all to me known programs in task manager (checked on internet about the ones I didn’t know about) and popups still came up, meaning I couldn’t have used the reset.

    Or what about dialers? There should be a way to prohibit dialup code to run free.

    I sadly enough have a friend who writes dialers or just dll’s to change behaviors in IE. What about those things? Will they be unusable when you reset? Probably not.

    I really hope I’m wrong about many things here, if I’m not.. this feature wont do much to help.

  17. durgav [MSFT] says:

    @Hudson : I cant apply any customisations as an error now appears (line 12. Char 9, Object not Found, Code:0,)

    I believe you are using IE7 older than Beta2 Preview.  These were fixed in IE7 Beta2 Preview released early Feb this year.

  18. The IE team blogged today that Internet Explorer 7 in Windows XP and Vista can be reset if the browser…

  19. Jakob says:

    Doing this will disable your ActiveX-controls. When visiting a site, that requires a disabled ActiveX-control, you just get an error. I think it would be better if the yellow help bar was shown. This way the user could choose to enable the ActiveX-control in the same way, that he chooses to install it, if it weren’t already installed.

  20. JohnO says:

    I installed IE7 yesterday and it worked fine. This morning tried to follow a link from MS Outlook 2002 and IE7 crashed. This afternoon it followed a link to Microsoft, but crashed again when I tried a couple of others from an email

  21. Steve says:

    As has been posted here, many times before.

    post all your screen shots in PNG or GIF format only!

    Never, ever post a screen shot, that contains text, in JPEG format. Never! Not only does the screen shot look like my 4 year old nephew painted it, but it is quite simply NOT the correct format for the purpose.

    and if Roman is correct, and you originally posted a BMP file, then get someone that knows graphics to post your screen shots.  BMP is NOT a supported web graphic format. Never was, never will be, its compression abilities alone, remove it from all possible contention.

    Steve

  22. Steve says:

    So, I noticed you posted the Vista screen shot.  Is this because the XP one would still contain the buggy button image for:

    "Restore advanced settings"

    Which gets all distorted, after 17 characters have been added as the label?

    😉

    That all said, it would be much nicer if there was a "load IE7 in safe mode" which would load IE7, without the add-ons, allowing you to re-add them one at a time to isolate the wonky add-on.

    With your current implementation, it is all or nothing.  If you add 12 add-ons, and something goes bad, you have to go back to OEM state!!!!

    I don’t want the OEM browser… who on earth would?  All I want is to "recover" from installing the "My __________ Toolbar"

    Name removed to protect the… (man, I can’t believe I am NOT highlighting the "sneakware" developers name)

    ________ = Insert name of spyware/adware/malware toolbar here.

  23. caeza says:

    @EricLaw [MSFT]

    Windows Vista with Tahoma font? Umm… really nice try ^^

    Share the VS, please =)

  24. PeterM says:

    I know this isn’t exactly commenting on the feature you’ve announced, but is it possible for you to have a feature that allows a user to export/import their IE settings to a file? In a similar way that MSOffice allows for exporting/importing user settings.

    As a developer I find it a real PITA not being able to easily

    -compare my settings to those of a colleague

    -revert my settings to a previous configuration

    -determine in what way my settings have changed over time, etc.

    These are all important aspects to debugging, and I’m sure will be of benefit even to people who aren’t developers, such as myself.

    Tying my request up with your post, resetting browser settings is not very helpful if you don’t know which of the dozen changes you’ve made has contributed to ‘the problem’. I would be loathe to remove any important settings I have made (but not documented) in order to recover to "Factory Settings", but recovering to "My Settings That I Know Work" is much more appealing.

    Hope this makes sense,

    Pete.

  25. ~Jean-Marc~ says:

    Hi IE Team !

    Why not include the (fully functionnal, i hope  ðŸ˜‰  )   iexplore /rereg    trick with this "reset" ? (basically, all regsvr32 stuff related to IE)

    Or perhaps, it’s already "in the reset code" ?

    Bye

    J-M

  26. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @Steve: Yes, you can launch IE without addons.  Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | IE (no addons).  Or right-click the desktop icon.

    @Jean-Marc: This functionality replaces and supersedes the /rereg trick.  

    @Steve: We generally choose to post Vista screenshots.  The ugly-button issue only applies to themed buttons in HTML, not dialogs like this one.

  27. Hudson says:

    @Durgav

    I believe you are using IE7 older than Beta2 Preview.  These were fixed in IE7 Beta2 Preview released early Feb this year.

    Thanks for reply,

    I have the public release beta 2 version 7.0.5346.5 build 65346

  28. durgav [MSFT] says:

    @Jakob : Doing this will disable your ActiveX-controls.

    No, for ActiveX controls their Opt-in state is restored. This behavior is available in IE7 Beta2 Preview onwards. For ActiveX controls he info bar (gold bar/ yellow bar) would appear and users get to choose to allow the Activex to run or not, just the way they did the first time.

    More info on ActiveX optin: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/IETechCol/cols/dnexpie/activex_security.asp?frame=true

  29. Rustam Sydykov says:

    Hello,

    Thank you, it helped me yesterday. My IE became unusable yesterday (Windows Vista b2) but I manage to cirumvent it running "run as -> administrator" (was busy yesterday sorting out other problems). I have read your post and reset the settings in IE – and it works now without problems. That was really in time 🙂

    Cheers,

    Rustam.

  30. Adam says:

    Hang on…. "Re-applies Manufacturer Settings"??

    Where do *these* settings come from? And what’s to stop malware authors, if they’ve owned your system already, from rewriting (or just writing) the "Manufacturer Settings" to include their own code and making this feature utterly useless?

  31. Dave says:

    They could keep a signed file around with the manufacturer’s settings.  But why would a malware author bother messing with IE’s "manufacturer" settings when they can rootkit the kernel?

    See laws #1 & #2:

    http://www.microsoft.com/technet/archive/community/columns/security/essays/10imlaws.mspx?mfr=true

  32. Adam says:

    But doesn’t this clear out rootkits and other malware-induced OS changes that can affect IE?

    "We have heard from users on their need to recover Internet Explorer to a workable state if it reaches an unusable state due to spurious add-ons, incompatible browser extensions, spyware or malware. Reset Internet Explorer Settings (RIES) provides a one-button solution to get Internet Explorer settings to its workable state."

    For some reason, I misread this to say that if any spyware or malware had made IE unusable, RIES would fix it.

    Oh, wait, it _does_ say that.

    (Oh – and law #1 is obviously false. Yes, "it can do anything, up to the limits of what you yourself can do on the computer." But if you don’t generally log in with any special priveliges, such as the ability to write to system binaries to install a virus, or the ability to open a ‘backdoor’ port and run programs as a user other than yourself which is what you’re doing anway, or the ability to change your modem settings, or the ability to write directly to hardware devices (required to format a partition), then it can do none of those things.

    Yes, it could alter all _my_ documents (note, not _all_ documents on the computer – those owned by other people will be unaffected) or send rude emails to my friends. But that can be fixed by logging in as an admin, killing all processes owned by me, restoring my user folder from backups and emailing apologies to my friends.

    My computer is still mine.)

  33. When I purchased my Dell Computer, it came with Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. Everything worked well Until a few months back, when Charter Communication, changed my internet connection to Dellnet/MSN Explorer, with their own patch to email access.

    Since that time I have not been able to send Microsoft Word documents through the email. I would like to have some help on this.  Or better yet, I would like to reinstall Internet Explorer to my computer.  I would appreciate any suggestions or help that you may be able to provide. Thanks……A.K.  

  34. ~Jean-Marc~ says:

    (about rereg trick)

    Thanks Eric, interesting !

  35. nsttz says:

    Sorry about the post here i could not find where to put this..

    I could not find anything about JAVA…

    I installed beta 2 and went to sun microsystems and downloaded the j2se installed it and a few web sites fail to operate.. one of them is POGO..

    I did how ever run accorss a bug i belive..

    I have norton system works installed and i had a nasty virus attack my system, needless to say format hard drive and reinstall everything again.. IE 6 would not allow this to happen…

    i hit several web sites of known virus and trojan threats to check out beta software ( you will never know untill you do).

    i have reverted back to IE 6 until the java issue is resolved..

    former beta tester CHICAGO (win98)

    thanks!!!

  36. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @Adam: "law #1 is obviously false"

    I think you’re misreading the law.  The point is that malware is only limited by your privileges.  You correctly note that by reducing your privileges, you reduce your attack surface.  This is the general point behind the User-Account Control feature added for Windows Vista.

  37. PatriotB says:

    caeza — It’s not an XP visual style, it really is the Vista Basic style, for those systems whose graphics card can’t support the DWM or glass.  Check out http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/winvista_ff_basic_ux.asp for proof.

    (That said, it is very ugly and I wish the Vista designers would spend a bit more time polishing this visual style.  The way it is now, the Basic UX is a step down in quality from XP’s Luna, IMHO.)

  38. PatriotB says:

    @EricLaw — "The ugly-button issue only applies to themed buttons in HTML, not dialogs like this one."

    Actually, I’ve occasionally seen some ugly-buttons on regular Win32 dialogs, on XP.  Specifically, the Choose Color common dialog box’s "Define Custom Colors" and "Add to Custom Colors" buttons sometimes appear ugly in the same manner.  (But other times they don’t.)

  39. Adam says:

    EricLaw: Misreading it? I don’t think so. I think it’s pretty clear.

    It’s fault is that it makes the laughably naive assumption that everyone logs in as root^H^H^H^HAdministrator all the time, and there’s no other way to use a computer.

    But if you fix the assumption, I don’t see how you can claim that "If a bad guy can persuade you to run his program on your computer, it’s not your computer anymore." That’s just not supportable. And if you water it down so it’s correct, you won’t end up with anything like that statement.

  40. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @Adam: The 10 Laws were written by Michael Howard, author of Writing Secure Code.  One of the major goals for introducing this "top 10 list" is to lead into a discussion of why it’s important to follow secure practices like not running as admin (which data shows almost everyone does).

  41. some guy says:

    This is off topic, but the most appropriate recent post that. Regarding settings, I think you should:

    1. Just put in an instantly clickable magnifying glass on large images instead of that stupid hover thing. I just want to see my image, not make sure my mouse is in the right position then wait an eternity. It just bugs users.

    2. I noticed IE7 on vista doesnt save the window size anymore on exit. ie. I put javascript:resizeTo(1024,768); on a non vista machine, close the browser open it again, and that is my window size till changed again. I don’t want my browser opening at 800×600 or whatever puny default it is on my 2560×1600 screen, and I dont want it maximised either.

    3. Make the colors consistent with rest of the interface. The white to pale blue gradient doesnt always work. USe the system colors or whatever.

    Other than that, its one slick browser. I’d use it, but the above grievances bug me too much.

  42. EricLaw [MSFT] says:

    @someguy: Good suggestion on the click-to-enlarge.  We’ll look at it.

    I’ll look into #2.

  43. durgav [MSFT] says:

    Several of you noticed the unusual font (font is not the default and text is cramped, not fixed width) in RIES warning dialog.  

    This is a bug and has been fixed in IE7 Beta3.

  44. durgav [MSFT] says:

    @Adam: Where do *these* settings come from? And what’s to stop malware authors, if they’ve owned your system already, from rewriting (or just writing) the "Manufacturer Settings" to include their own code and making this feature utterly useless?

    Writing to Manufacturer’s settings requires admin previliges. It is possible to tamper this if the system is already owned.  In the cases if manufacturer’s settings are overwritten, there is no gaurantee that any OS of code or RIES code is not overwritten/changed either.

  45. durgav [MSFT] says:

    @Hudson: I have the public release beta 2 version 7.0.5346.5 build 65346

    Can you help us identify the issue?

    Does status bar the icon that one or more add-ons on this page is disabled? In the past the issue was RIES disabled activex controls, instead of restoring their Optin State.

  46. Adam says:

    Eric: OK, my respect for the author just went up a notch. That doesn’t mean the guy doesn’t make mistakes though, and I still see no good argument to support law #1 as it is written. If the law was changed to:

    "If _you are logged in as an Administrator and_ a bad guy can persuade you to run his program on your computer, it’s not your computer anymore."

    then I wouldn’t be able to find fault with it, _and_ I think it would be better at "[… leading] into a discussion of why it’s important to follow secure practices like not running as admin." At the moment, I don’t see how that law tries to encourage that kind of discussion, as you suggest.

    *shrug*

  47. Murali says:

    Since using Reset command., IE gets terminated or locks up using some web-sites.

    IE termination can be duplicated very consistantly at http://www.gmail.com, by signing in without checking "Remember me on this computer" option.  I could bearly see my emails list., or within one click IE crashes.

    Could not re-install IE7b2 either. my option to remove/re-install is missing from Add/Remove programs

  48. Mary Inman says:

    I tried to follow your directions for setting the "runonce" initial page to 1 but got only to the MAIN and could not find what you wanted me to do next.

    RUN – REGEDIT.EXE – HKCU – SOFTWARE – MICROSOFT – INTERNET EXPLORER – MAIN – ?????

  49. some guy says:

    Hey wow, Im stoked you guys are actually considering the suggestions. Now I feel bad for being blunt; bad experiences are what motivate me to post feedback 😛

    Keep up the good work 🙂

  50. jajoehl says:

    I think this feature is a very welcome addition to the IE web browser. When the installation was complete on my system, I was immediately taken to a page where I could adjust my IE settings the way I wanted them to be. Good job MS.

  51. AM says:

    Why can’t I reply to OWA emails in IE7? I get a red X graphic in the message body area, I think the length of the URL may  be borderline too long.

  52. Durval (Portugal) says:

    I had to turn off the IE 7-B2 because I d’ont see de IE (my home page and others sites). I now go turn on IE7 to see that is good!!

  53. IEBlog says:

    In our previous post about IE’s Reset Internet Explorer Settings feature, we’ve discussed how incompatible…

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    Installing Branded IE7 on Windows XP Service Pack 3