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How to Disable ActiveX Controls in Internet Explorer

ActiveX controls, like other add-ons, are designed to enhance your browsing experience. And, like other add-ons, sometimes they don’t. The good news is that you can disable them. If the only reason you are trying to get rid of an ActiveX control is that you think it is a security risk, don’t bother. There was a security flaw years ago, but those issues have since been addressed.

In Internet Explorer 7, you could remove ActiveX controls by using the Manage Add-On window. That’s no longer true in Internet Explorer 8.

The only thing you can do with installed ActiveX controls is to disable them, just as you disable any add-on. Follow these steps in Internet Explorer 8:

  1. Open Internet Explorer.

  2. From the Tools button menu, choose Manage Add-Ons.

    The Manage Add-Ons dialog box comes into view.

  3. From the Show drop-down menu, ensure that All Add-Ons is chosen.

    And now, the bad news: The add-ons in the window aren’t sorted or even identified as individual ActiveX controls. Believe me: ActiveX controls are listed, but you have to find them individually. That takes time, unless you know the developer or specific name of the ActiveX control.

  4. Click an add-on in a list.

    You see whether the add-on is an ActiveX control by looking at the detailed information in the bottom of the window. If the add-on type is an ActiveX Control, you’ve found one.

  5. Disable the ActiveX control by clicking the Disable button.

  6. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 for every ActiveX control in the Manage Add-Ons window.

    Of course, you don’t have to disable all the controls; if you see some that you use frequently, such as Adobe Shockwave Flash player, keep it enabled. (Then again, Flash has its issues on certain web pages.)

  7. Click the Close button to dismiss the Manage Add-Ons window when you’re done.

Don’t turn this exercise into a witch hunt. You’ll find good ActiveX controls as well as evil ActiveX controls. In fact, if the entire issue bugs you, just use Firefox rather than Internet Explorer.

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