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Most often, you'll want to take the updates offered by Windows Update. If you want to delay or completely avoid an update, I'll show you how to hide it.

The Windows Update notification INSISTS that I must install Internet Explorer 9. Sure, I can ignore it, but the notification just won't go away.

Actually, it can.

In fact, you can tell Windows Update to ignore any of the updates that it offers you.

Naturally, it's not obvious, but the option is there. I'll show you how.

Windows Update

Start the Windows Update tool. In Windows 7, that'll be on the All Programs menu as Windows Update. You can also visit the Windows Update site in older versions of Windows.

Windows Update showing available updates

As you can see, the example machine that I've selected is in need of some updates - five important ones and one optional.

Click on the "Important Updates" item to see the list:

Important Updates including IE9

Internet Explorer 9 is shown and checked for installation.

If you want to avoid Internet Explorer for now, you'll uncheck it. However, it'll still remain present in the list.

Hiding The Update

Uncheck the item that you don't want - Internet Explorer 9, in this case - but then, right-click on it as well:

Popup menu to hide the Internet Explorer 9 udpate

Click Hide Update. (The shield icon indicates that you may need to confirm a UAC prompt.)

Hidden IE9 update

As you can see, the item turns grey.

In this case, I'll take all of the other updates. After a reboot (or two [or three]), the list of important updates has changed:

Windows Update list after assorted updates

As you can see, Windows Update has decided that I need Service Pack 1, but Internet Explorer is nowhere to be seen. And this machine still has IE8.

Changing your mind

So if the update is hidden, what happens if you change your mind? How do you get Internet Explorer 9?

Back on the Windows Update screen is our hint:

Windows Update Restore hidden updates link

Click Restore hidden updates and you'll be presented with a list of all the hidden Windows Updates:

Windows Update list of hidden updates

Apparently, I've been here before and hidden all of the language pack updates that I don't need.

Check the items that you want to un-hide and click Restore. They'll be placed back in the list of available updates for you to select and then presumably install.

Article C4842 - June 10, 2011 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

June 10, 2011 10:47 PM

Coolness! I've got to remember to try that right-click more often, just to see if there are any options, in other areas.

June 14, 2011 8:21 AM

Why in the world would you want to skip IE 9? It brings Microsoft's browser offering out of the stone age and into modern computing.

June 14, 2011 9:28 AM

Thank you! I needed this information as we are not supposed to use IE 9 for work projects yet.

June 14, 2011 10:35 AM

Not updating Internet Explorer is a bad idea. I don't use IE, but it's core engine is an integral part of Windows. Not updating can cause security and operational issues in Windows.

There's a subtle difference here. Not taking patches is definitely risky. However skipping an update to a completely new version of the software doesn't carry the same risk, until the previous version is no longer supported. MS will be supporting IE8 with security patches for a while.

June 14, 2011 1:57 PM

I usually install all critical (mandatory) updates and optional. However, I tried IE9 and do not like the look and feel of it. Why did they move my favorites over to the right side? I had to uninstall it by going to the add/remove programs, click on show updates, then remove internet exporer 9. This put it back to 8. Why do companies like Microsoft screw around with the layout? Didn't they learn anything from the backlash against Vista?

Tom R.
June 14, 2011 9:38 PM

I tested IE 9 and I hated it. I uninstalled it within days. For one thing, it destroyed the search engine field. It didn't replace it with anything, it was just gone. Poof.

Macmillan Phiri
June 16, 2011 2:06 AM

Very useful. I have tried and worked. Thank you.

June 17, 2011 12:41 PM

I tire of the constant admonition to Update on demand "for your own good." Sure, they address bugs, imperfections, and security issues. So do new cars each year, but we don't replace them everytime a new model is released; nor do earlier ones become immediately obsolete or unworkable.

And every fix introduces NEW problems (which is why the Updates are never-ending). Vista was the most glaring example of creating as many problems as it addressed. Fortunately, MS does give the option for users to make their own choices and take the consequences of them.

The movie, "I Robot," was more of an allegory of forced updates upon the populace and its ramifications. All with good intentions, of course.

I disagree strongly that every fix also introduces errors. The reason there's a continual stream of updates is because vu;nerabilities continue to be found - in new code, in old code, and in code inbetween. Once discovered the exploits are new, of course, but the vulnerability is often very, very old.

September 8, 2011 12:18 PM

Thanks. I don't use MS Office at all and don't want all the security updates it keeps trying to give me.

I knew it was something simple, but other sites I looked at were doing convaluted shutting down update under services etc.

This is SO much simpler.

Thanks again

September 23, 2012 12:08 AM

Thanks, Leo, you have some good info here (and in other threads), and it's straightforward enough for non-programmers to follow. However, I disagree that "every fix doesn't introduce new errors". I know some of the things being fixed are errors from the original code (and sometimes, they are "vulnerabilities", not just errors...), but too often update 1.4 is simply a fix for update 1.3. Personally, I disable "automatic updates" as soon as I install a new system, and I never install *any* updates through Microsoft--and I've never had any security issues, despite their warnings. I use Media Player 10, because starting from 11 they pulled all that stupid crap, and when Internet Explorer started with that "ribbon" nonsense (like in Office 2007), I switched over to Firefox. When will Microsoft learn that "different" is not always "better"? (Incidentally, I run XP, SP2 on all my computers. It took them three years to finally get XP more or less stable, so I'm in no hurry to try Vista 2--I mean, um, "Windows 7".)

So... for all you out there that don't want the constant nagging from Windows Updates: just turn them off. Use the internet half-ways intelligently, and you won't expose yourself to all the risks that MS pretends it's protecting you from. Cheers!

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