Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

About:blank is a special page within most browsers. It can appear due to problems, malware, or if there's been malware that's been removed.

I'm too dumb to understand the "Dummies" books. I think I am running Windows 7. I get the "about:blank" whenever I log on IE. I didn't even know it was a 'whatever' until recently. What is a simple, fool-proof way to get rid of it?

I almost discarded this question because it starts with one of the things that frustrates the heck out of me.

Please: never, ever refer to yourself as too dumb.

You're admitting defeat before you even start and that really makes it difficult for me or people like me to get enthused about even thinking about your question.

I don't care who you are – you're not too dumb.

With that mini-rant out of the way, let's talk about about:blank – it confuses many people (who, by the way, aren't dumb Smile).

About about:blank

About:blank isn't really "about" anything.

The word "about:" is just a keyword that many browsers use as a way to enable some additional functionality or display standard pages. You can read more about about: in this Wikipedia article.

About:blank does nothing more than display a blank page.

About:blank

That's all. Just a blank page.

Most browsers have to display something in the browser window and IE is no different. In various situations, when IE can't figure out anything else to display, it might well display about:blank.

Sometimes, it's malware

No, about:blank isn't malware, but sometimes, it's a sign of malware.

Occasionally, malware will explicitly mess with IE and cause it to display about:blank.

More frequently, malware will effectively break something and IE will be unable to display a page, and thus revert to displaying about:blank.

The solution in most of these cases, of course, is to run up-to-date scans for malware.

Sometimes, the malware (or other errors) may leave you with a persistent about:blank like you might be seeing.

About:blank as your browser home page

Your browser home page is the page that you see first when you initially fire up your browser.

Frequently, the default home page for IE is http://www.msn.com or some other Microsoft-related property.

Sometimes, malware or other misfortune can leave your browser configured with about:blank as the home page that displays whenever you start IE.

Let's fix that.

Internet Explorer - Internet Options link

Click the gear icon (or the Tools menu) and then Internet options.

IE Internet Options - Home page

On the very first tab (the General tab), the setting for home page is at the very top. As you can see above, it's set to be about:blank.

It can be whatever web page you want it to be.

Let's say you want it to be "http://ask-leo.com". Smile Simply type that in, overwriting the about:blank:

IE Internet options - Home page set to http://ask-leo.com

After entering whatever it is you want, click OK.

Now, click the Home button in IE.

Ask Leo! in IE

Now, your browser will open whatever page it is that you've specified when you click the Home button and when you first open the browser.

Article C5362 - May 20, 2012 « »

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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.

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22 Comments
Mike
May 20, 2012 5:56 PM

I've started using the about:blank function as my opening page. Basically as a platform to launch from. Sometimes when my connection is slow for some reason, my computer hangs & I have a devil of a time closing the browser (firefox). If I click on the home page icon & it can't get out to it, it seems easier to shut down & go kill a bit of time playing solitare until the problem clears up. I use a wireless provider and it seems that many things can cause it to mess up.

Bob
May 21, 2012 12:59 AM

I agree with Mike. About:Blank is an excellent starting point.
Sometimes loading a page you don't always want to read is counter-productive, especially if your monthly limit is on the low side or you're paying by the kb.
These days a lot of pages load Mb of 'junk' just because they can - flashy banners, video clips, etc etc - and unless you watch/read all of it, you are downloading data for no good reason.

Dave S.
May 22, 2012 9:08 AM

I use Thunderbird not just for email but also most of my everyday letter writing. It always prints "about blank" in the upper right hand corner of every letter. Any idea how to get rid of that?

Steven
May 22, 2012 9:14 AM

If you want to start without loading a page, allowing you the time to choose what you want from favorites or whatever you wanted to type, about:blank is perfect.

When you click home that is about:blank. Setting it as the default page is an excellent choice. Your browser is basically idle.

There is no way to 'get rid of it'. It is written into the browser and has been for nearly twenty years. It looks odd but the term comes from the early days when more formal terms and structuring were prevalent (and DOS ruled as well). Most browsers as we know them came from or owe their existance to a program called MOSAIC, which you should do a search on. It might be heavy but it will probably fascinate you.

Hilary
May 22, 2012 9:24 AM

Leo, Just a semi-off-topic comment. When your readers refer to themselves as "dumb," what they might mean is: "There are two kinds of disciplined twenty-first-century technology users: first, the vast number of people dedicated to acquiring and exercising as much tech-knowledge as possible; and, second, those comparatively few blessed from birth, as you were, with innate understanding of principles of mathematics and other technology-related sciences." Perhaps see it as a compliment, Mr. Teacher.

That may be, but saying "I AM dumb" absolutely comes across as totally self-defeating. As I said, that wording totally turns me off.
Leo
22-May-2012
Bill F
May 22, 2012 9:28 AM

For the about:blank as a home page people.

Consider creating a minimalist web page with your most common links on it and saving it on your hard drive.

You get the speed benifits of About:blank but also get your most common items with one click.

This is actually pretty much what I do. My "Home" page is a page of my own creation full of links to various places I go and sites I use frequently. (Of course I over-geek it - it's actually a Wiki I have installed behind a password protected website over https Smile.)
Leo
22-May-2012
Mike
May 22, 2012 9:28 AM

Another reason why about:blank might be a good Home Page is because host servers use software to determine a wide variety of information. Which includes what browser you're using, what website you came FROM, and even what website you decided to go to when leaving. So, if you don't want to leave a trail on somebody else's webpage, enter from you homepage of about:blank, and go back to your homepage of about:blank before going to your next website.

Gabe
May 22, 2012 9:36 AM

Dear "Too Dumb",

I’m an IT Pro and I've always used "about:blank" on every computer I've ever set up and in all my years of computing it never occurred to me to investigate if "about:" had additional functionality. Because of your question and because of Leo’s answer, I’ve learned something. We’re all learning.

:-)

Dan
May 22, 2012 10:21 AM

Being Dumb and Ignorant are two different things. Ignorant just means you don't know the answer 'yet'. Dumb means you don't know the answer and probably never will...

It is also a pet peeve mine. I got it drilled into me when in school that dumb is a 'bad', and ignorant is a 'good' word. I just guess those that use 'dumb' are just 'ignorant' of the proper word to use.

William C. CURTIS
May 22, 2012 10:22 AM

Thanks Leo for correcting me. I should have said that I lacked the knowledge to understand instead of taking the 'short form'. You and the guys above have set me straight again. However I did it one of the best things I ever did was subscribe for your newsletter.

duane
May 22, 2012 10:53 AM

This about:blank web page reminds me of the Opera web browser which has a home page of links.
You can't sign out of the browser by x'ing out a tab. you get this links page. you have to alt-x to close the browser.
It's easy to sign out of other browsers by mistake.

BAW30s
May 22, 2012 11:03 AM

Interesting: Steven's comment reminded me that Internet Explorer used to acknowledge its origins in MOSAIC. Out of curiosity, I downloaded MOSAIC from the NCSA website and tried it. It hasn't been updated since 1997, so perhaps unsurprisingly I failed to access any websites with it; the interface is reminiscent of Office 2000.

Rick Norton
May 22, 2012 12:54 PM

I, too, always use "about:blank" as my home page. I started that after being issued my first laptop, long before wireless was everywhere. When I had an actual webpage as my home page, e.g. Google, and was not connected the browser would hang for a long time, and I am impatient. Also, when learning that many websites track where you go when you leave their site I began the practice of clicking the "home" icon and then navigating to my new destination. I felt that going from a retailers site to a baseball score site was information about me they really didn't need to have.

Germaine
May 22, 2012 4:08 PM

I have my Internet Explorer load to a blank page on purpose. I don't want or need a home page so it's my default home page. Loading a page with lots of graphics takes a long time on an old computer, so that's why I do it, but also I don't need that home page and can choose where I want to go once the internet is up and running. To get rid of it, just choose a home page.

Gilbert
May 24, 2012 1:50 PM

In my case,I think about blank is one of Microsoft home page.about blank shows for less than a second on starting my Home page (google).My Home page in Internet options never changes it's always google.
This you did not explain in your article.

Brad
May 25, 2012 12:59 AM

I love about blank, when I fire up my PC I sure as heck don't need nor want to see a bunch of kooky info from the get-go. As an example, If I want to find my weather info I'll look it up myself.

Glenn P.,
May 28, 2012 7:29 PM

My "start" (i.e., "home") page is a hand-written local offline (on-disk) html page with links to various Google services, and to my online web page. It loads almost instantly.     :)

Joy
June 3, 2012 9:37 AM

I'm not a real dummy, but I've portrayed one more than once. Such as just last week when, for no apparent reason, Chrome changed my "Open browser to" settings. I couldn't remember if it was supposed to be aboutblank, about.com or blank.com. About.com was a website, but the next one I tried (blank.com) gave me the blank page I wanted so I went with it. Within a week my browser was being misdirected to some Spanish-language gaming site and I got a malware alert. I ran a full scan, got rid of it, then told the IT son about it. "ABOUT BLANK, Mom, ABOUT BLANK." : ) There are those who know, those who don't, and those who know just enough to be dangerous. sigh

Mark J
June 3, 2012 9:54 AM

@Joy
Just for the record, it's about:blank. Punctuation is important ;=)

Joy
June 6, 2012 3:14 PM

@Mark
See what I mean? : ) Thanks

connie
June 6, 2012 7:21 PM

@Joy,
You might want to get that IT son to take a look at your computer for malware. Things shouldn't be changing like that on it!

Vivyan
February 3, 2013 10:00 AM

I ABSOLUTELY HATE ABOUT:BLANK. I have had nothing but problems with that darn thing. Everytime I get rid of it, it pops up again. Isn't there something out there that completely gets rid of it???? PLEASE???

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