2007/03/06

CyberNotes: Do more with Internet Explorer 7

Now that Windows Vista has been released (read our review) I expect to see the number of Internet Explorer 7 users begin to increase. A majority of those users will have previously used Internet Explorer 6 as their primary browser, and I suspect that many of those people will enjoy the changes that they find.

I prefer to use Firefox or Opera myself, but I have become accustomed to the community that surrounds those browsers and therefore find it hard to break away from either of them. One thing that wouldn’t hold me back from using IE 7 is a lack of features, because it has quite a few nice additions that take their browser to the next level. Not only that, but you can get add-ons that do even more like restoring your tab session after a crash, blocking ads, integrating mouse gestures, and adding RSS notifications.

Here are some of my favorite add-ons available for Internet Explorer 7:

–Find As You Type (Homepage / Mirror [version 1.1])–
This add-on we have actually written about before, but I find it to be such a necessary feature in other browsers that I had to include it in this list. Basically, it will let you search for words on a website instantly while you type them.


It is very similar to Firefox’s “Find as you Type” feature. In Firefox this can be initiated by pressing an apostrophe if you don’t have this feature enabled to automatically start while you type. In Opera you can use this feature by pressing the period (”.”) key and then typing your search term.



–IE7pro (Homepage / Mirror )–
If you use Internet Explorer on a regular basis then you’ll probably find this extension to be unbelievably useful. It has all of the best features that people talk about loving the most in other browsers, such as mouse gestures and ad blocking. These are just some of the customization options that you’ll find in the add-on:


The other thing that you’ll notice is that the add-on installs an icon in the Status Bar of the browser. If you click on that little icon it will offer several different things that you can do, including refreshing the current page at a given interval or saving the site to an image file (it automatically scrolls the entire site to create the screenshot). Here is what that menu looks like:


–Feeds Plus (Homepage / Mirror)–
Microsoft did a nice job of integrating RSS into Internet Explorer 7, but they could have still taken the extra step to add some features to make it even more useful. The IE RSS team must have had some things that they just couldn’t fit into the final release though, because they too have developed their own add-on.

You can group your feeds into folders and then browse all of the news contained in that folder, making it much easier if you have a large number of feeds that you read. It also adds a notification popup to notify you when there are new feed items!


–Overview–
There are actually more add-ons for Internet Explorer than you probably think. When I started looking around I was surprised to see the things available that add a lot of the features people boast about in other browsers. Of course, one of the biggest reasons that people use other browsers is because of the security vulnerabilities that are constantly being found in Internet Explorer, and unfortunately there is no add-on to fix that problem.

Internet Explorer 7 is still not my browser of choice, but it is leaps and bounds better than the previous versions that were offered. Now that Vista is shipping on all new computers it will be interesting if that impacts Internet Explorer’s market share for the better, or if it will continue to decline as people search for other browser alternatives. I can’t wait to look back in a few years to see how browsers have evolved to meet the demand of users turning to more and more online services to get things done.

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