Customization in IE8

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Customization in IE8

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I am a user interface tester on the Internet Explorer team and one of my favorite things about any application is the ability to personalize the program to give it your own look and feel.

I am never content with ubiquitous one-size–fits-all solutions and really look forward to products that value user choice. I’m excited that IE8 now has some personalization options and this cycle I have been fortunate to work on two such features – IE8 Look and Feel (customizations around the Command bar) and the Smart Address bar.

First of all, let me walk you through the Command bar area for those of you not familiar with this feature.

A context menu can be invoked by right clicking in the empty space in any of the following areas:

  1. The Legacy File Menu Band,
  2. The Favorites Bar or
  3. The Tab Band

Context menu in the IE chrome which allows you to choose what items should be displayed

Choosing which menus to show

The command bar context menu allows you to choose which of the menu bars you would like see - everything is on by default (notice the check marks in the visual above).

For example, the command bar and menu bars each contain similar options. You might want to turn off one of these to avoid redundancy. Similarly, you can turn off the favorites bar (although I would not recommend this – there are many cool new features here!),   the compatibility view button, and/or the status bar.

In the favorites bar you can customize to see more favorites by right clicking and choosing from the context menu to switch from Long Titles to Short Titles or even just Icons only mode.  The full title will always display in the tooltip.

context menu options to change the title widths on the Favorites bar (Long, short or icons only)

Favorites bar with Long titles, Short titles, and Icons only.

If you uncheck “Lock the toolbars”, you can drag and drop the command bar to a new location. Place it on its own row below the file menu, or align it on the row with the favorites bar – the choice is yours! I personally like moving it to its own row and turning off the menu bar (the second highlight in the picture below).Notice how that opens up space for more tabs in the tab row.

 the command bar can be moved to different locations to free up space on the tab row or the favorites bar.

Changing the position of the stop/refresh buttons

For those of you that would like these buttons to appear on the left side of the address bar, you can do so by clicking “Customize” and then “Show Stop and Refresh Buttons before Address Bar”.

menu to change the location of the stop/refresh buttons.

Choosing menu items on the command bar and the display mode

We have cleaned up the command picker and ensured there is an icon for each item. So now when you add new items to the command bar, this lets you easily identify each option when in “Show Only Icons” mode. You can also choose to “Use large icons” for increased readability.

Or if you like text, there is the good old “Show All Text labels “or “Show selective text” which shows a combination of icons and text.

Menu option to show text labels, selective text or only icons. 

Finally you can use “Add remove commands “to invoke the command well which lets you pick and choose what you would like to display in the command bar.

menu options to add or remove options from the command bar 

Customize the Smart Address bar

One of my favorite features in IE8 is the Smart address bar. I really like how I can quickly pick previously typed addresses, history, or favorite items right from my address bar. And if I’m a frequent feeds user, I can find feeds here too by turning on an option in Internet Options.

the Smart Address bar dropdown with items from autocomplete, history, favorites and feeds. 

In order to change what you would like to see you have to go to File menu>Tools>Internet Options and then choose the “Content tab “and “Auto complete settings”.

Menu to enable/disable selections in the Smart Address bar.

We’d love to hear how you would like to further customize future versions of Internet Explorer. Your preferences and tastes are important to us, and we are committed to continually improving your experience. Keep writing to us and let us know!

Nomita Paul
IE Test

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