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Thanks to the Add-On Manager, you now can now have more visibility and control over what software makes itself part of Internet Explorer.
What is Internet Explorer's new Add-On Manager?
Browser Add-Ons are one of the many ways that viruses, spyware, and other malware can attach to your computer and cause you grief. Browser Add-Ons are also one of the many ways that legitimate publishers can add functionality to Internet Explorer or to specific web sites and pages.
With Windows XP Service Pack 2, Internet Explorer was updated to include a new Add-On Manager to allow you more visibility into and control over the software that makes itself part of Internet Explorer.
Let's have a look at what it shows.
On Internet Explorer's Tools Menu, select Manage Add-Ons....
The Add-On manager defaults to showing all the Add-On's currently loaded in internet explorer. Each includes:
Name - the add-on's name. Since displaying this information is relatively new, not all add-on's have meaningful names. Some, like "AcroIEHelperObjClass" will allow you to infer what they are - Adobe's Acrobat, in this case. Others may display only a GUID, or Globally Unique IDentifier as their name.
Publisher - if available, the publisher of the add-on. Some may include the string "(Not Verified)" which indicates that the add-on itself has not been digitally signed.
Status - indicating whether or not the add-on is enabled. The default display, all currently loaded add-ons, will display only enabled.
Type - add-ons can make use of several different interfaces into Internet Explorer including Browser Extension, Browser Helper Object and ActiveX Control.
Filename - it's not always available, but the filename in which the add-on resides can among other things help identify that add-on's purpose.
The purpose of many add-ons will be obvious based simply on their name, the publisher, or their file name. However if you have an add-on that you don't recognize, or that you suspect is causing you problems, you can disable the add-on by selecting it and clicking on the Disable radio button. Depending on IE's behaviour after that, you can decide if that add-on was necessary or not.
By changing the Show drop down to "Add-ons that have been used by Internet Explorer" you can see all the extensions, helper objects, and ActiveX controls that IE knows about. You can also use this as an opportunity to update ActiveX controls.
The Learn more about add-ons... link near the bottom of the Add-On Manager dialog opens up the help file which contains more helpful information about add-ons, and the add-on manager.
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