In the latest sprint on my current project, we are adding yet another major feature to a customer service portal -- specifically, the ability to view live video feeds from security cameras. The vendor this particular customer has selected for providing the camera functionality utilizes several ActiveX controls to implement video feeds. Consequently, one of the processes that we need for this sprint is the ability to remove the ActiveX controls (for example, to test newer versions of the components, or to demonstrate the user experience the first time someone launches the new "remote monitoring" feature in the portal).

While you might think that simply deleting the temporary files in Internet Explorer (something we do very frequently during development and testing) would remove these files, that's not the case.

Also note the following KB article is effectively worthless these days even though it includes a section for "Internet Explorer 4.x or Later (All Platforms)":

How to Remove an ActiveX Control in Windows

[On a side note, I strongly recommend you think twice before using the phrase "or later" when referring to software. Think about it...it is highly unlikely that something you say about your current version of software will apply to all subsequent versions of that software.]

To view the list of downloaded program files (e.g. ActiveX controls) in Internet Explorer:

  1. Open Internet Explorer, click Tools and then click Internet Options.
  2. In the Internet Options window, on the General tab, in the Browsing history section, click Settings.
  3. In the Temporary Internet Files and History Settings window, click View Objects.

Some Microsoft KB articles suggest that you can easily remove a downloaded program file using the "occache.dll" shell extension simply by right-clicking the file and then clicking "Remove". That might very well have been true back in the old days (e.g. Windows XP). However, in my recent experience (on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008), the only item that appears on the context menu is "Properties" -- which doesn't provide any way to remove the item.

To remove a downloaded program file (e.g. an ActiveX control) on Windows 7 with Internet Explorer 8:

  1. Open Internet Explorer, click Tools and then click Internet Options.
  2. In the Internet Options window, on the Programs tab, click Manage add-ons.
  3. In the Manage Add-ons window, in the Show: dropdown list, click Downloaded controls, right-click the item that you want to remove, and then click More Information.
  4. In the More Information window, click Remove. If necessary, enter the credentials for an administrator on the computer, and then click Yes to remove the downloaded program file.

These steps should also work for Windows Vista as well (although I haven't tried them) -- but, honestly, does anyone even care about Windows Vista anymore?  ;-)