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Occasionally, when installing software it'll change your home page "for you". I'll walk you through why, and what to do to reset it.
I upgraded Internet Explorer to Version 8, and I've always had MSN as my homepage. Now, suddenly, the MSN homepage has changed to something called "Preview MSN". It has a white background. I hate it. Can I change it back, and if so, how do I do it?
It's actually fairly annoying, but many software installation programs these days will offer to change your browser's home page "for you" to whatever they think it should be. Sometimes they don't even ask and just do it, which to me is simply unacceptable.
Since I create and use my own custom browser home page, it's more than a little annoying when it gets changed out from underneath me.
So yes, let me show you how to reset it, and throw out a tip or two to avoid it being changed again "for you" in the future.
First, the basics - how to set your browser's home page.
First, navigate to the page that you want to use as your home page. That means if you want to use "iGoogle", Google's custom home page service, step one is simply to go there - http://www.iGoogle.com.
Then, while on that page, click on the Tools menu, Internet Options item, and then click on the General tab.
You can see the Google page in the background, and that the current Homepage in Internet Options is set to the MSN preview page.
Simply click the Use current button, followed by the OK button and your home page will be changed to the page you're currently viewing.
The procedure for Firefox is similar.
First Navigate to the page you want as your new home page. Then click on the Tools menu, Options item, and the Main tab:
Once again you can see the Google page in the background, and that the current Home Page in the Options dialog is set to the MSN preview page.
Simply click on Use Current Page, and then OK, and the home page will be changed to the page you're currently on.
How'd this happen?
There are typically three causes for an unexpected home page change.
It asked and you said yes.
This is perhaps the most common scenario. When installing software never accept the default settings that might be offered. Always choose the "custom" or "advanced" set of installation options when asked. The reason is simple - very often one of those default options is to change your browser's home page. Make sure you pay attention to all the options offered when you install or update software, and take care to opt-out of any changes like this that you're not interested in receiving. (Installing additional toolbars in your browser is another common option down this path.)
It didn't ask and did it anyway.
Some installation programs don't bother to ask. They simply assume that because you're installing what they have to offer, they have the right to change your home page as they see fit. In my opinion this is evil, but it happens. Watch for it as you install software, and prepare to revert using the instructions above if it does.
It's hard to call this much different than the third scenario...
Malware did it.
Spyware is absolutely notorious for hijacking home pages. Typically it's not to something as benign as an MSN preview page, but often to more questionable sites. Make sure you're running a good anti-spyware solution to protect yourself from this scenario.
Update: A number of people are coming here because of an apparent change to the MSN home page. I've written a new article on that: How do I get the old msn.com homepage back?
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