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In an effort to prevent malware from hijacking your browser's home page anti-spyware software may inadvertently prevent you from changing it as well.

Why, in IE's Tools, Internet Options, is the Home Page selection grayed and unusable?

Spyware. Though it's interesting that either spyware or a spyware immunization tool may in fact be responsible.

In either case, a good spyware scanner is the answer.

"Spyware" has become a term that really encompasses several types of software pests that don't quite meet the level of viruses. Several terms are routinely intermixed:

  • spyware - software that is secretly installed that somehow "spies" on your activity and logs or reports that information to someone else.

  • adware - software that is secretly installed that presents advertising whether you want it or not.

  • malware - software that is secretly installed that does other malicious things.

Lately, folks have been referring to all as spyware.

One common action some spyware takes is to reset your browser's home page, and keep resetting it so that you cannot. The page you are sent to is often a sales page or a pornographic web site.

A recent technique has been to also disable the user interface for changing your home page; effectively preventing you from even trying to change it back to what you would rather have it set to.

Some spyware scanners including my favorite Spybot Search & Destroy include the ability to lock the home page setting. The intent is that you can lock it before spyware tries to change it. Of course while you have it locked the Home Page selection in Tools, Internet Options, is grayed out.

So the steps are simple: first run a spyware scanner such as Spybot.

Then, check the spyware scanner immunization settings to make sure you haven't simply locked yourself out.

Article C1935 - May 7, 2004 « »

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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?

Jeff Gupta
June 21, 2004 7:59 PM

I Seem to be having a problem, everytime i open the Internet, it never opens the homepage i request in the internet options. I also have to type http:// and then the address to acess a web page. Please help me resolve this problem.

June 21, 2004 10:33 PM

Sounds like spyware. Follow the recommendations outlined in the article.

June 30, 2004 10:40 AM

lately my IE is displaying error that it cannot connect to remote server, cannot find server and its always like that. i tried to install opera 7.51 and the error still exist, luckily one web browser is working its smartexplorer, do you know why i have this kind of error and how can get rid of it.

June 30, 2004 3:18 PM

In your internet options, connections tab, my first step would be to ensure that "detect settings automatically" is off, and that you do not have a proxy configured. You didn't indicate what OS you are running, but if XP, I'd do a System File check, and of course check for viruses and spyware.

August 25, 2004 1:19 AM

i have a question how do i get to my tool menu and then select internet options?? i cant seem to open my cookies and i have problems with my pc i have browser hijacker in my c hard drive also adware in backweb the hijacker is in aol9.0 dll and is browser hijacker what is that?? i tried to remove them but i cant do so please advise me on what to do thank you so much!!!

August 25, 2004 10:43 AM

The Tool menu is on the menu bar when you have internet explorer running.

October 6, 2004 3:59 AM

The problem that has been stated above is the sure case of a adware.The particular adware get installed itself in the internet explorer file and hijacked the start up page of the browser.So when we open the browser,the adware also get executed along with the internet explorer.If we reset the home page in the internet options, it again set itself in the home page in the next session of browsing.To solve this problem one can use Adware scanner like Ad-ware and Spybot etc.Or try reinstalling the internet explorer software.

October 22, 2004 3:16 PM

ight,i am online, and get phone call, it automatically kicks me of and the phone rings about two times, then kicks the phone call off because the internet trys to reconnect, then it messes up and says Aol is not responding. It is very annoying and if u could tell me why this crap is happening, i would be very happy.

October 22, 2004 4:58 PM

You probably have call waiting. When a call comes in the modem conversation between you and AOL is temporarily interupted to play the call waiting beep. That's enough to actually disconnect you from the call. Then when your computer tries to redial, it's fast enough to do it that when it grabs the phone line to dial out, it actually answers the incoming call instead.

Solution: There's usually a dialing code you can add to the number the AOL will dial that tells your phone company to turn off call waiting for this phone call. The actual code will depending on your phone company, talk to them. How you specify it to the AOL dialer I'm not sure, but I'd hit the AOL support pages for a start.

September 28, 2005 6:44 PM

I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the answer to why my homepage was greyed out. It has bothered me for months. I never in the least suspected it was my Spybot. Anyway, if you were here I would kiss you. Thanks again for the most valuable lesson learned.

Big hugs and kisses,

March 4, 2006 9:56 AM

I've been haveing this super duper annoying problem with my internet. I NEED HELP!
The problem is that every time my phone rings,my internet dies for a brief 20 seconds. But,when I unplug my phone the internet is fine. During this 20 seconds I cannot view any internet page because it continues to give me the 'Page cannot be displayed' or 'Cannot find server' type messages in my browser window. I cannot stand this problem. I've switched internet companies and tried other solutions but none seem to work.
Please help me if you know how.

Thank you,

March 4, 2006 10:11 AM

I'm going to assume you have DSL, you didn't say.

You need to get in touch with your phone company. There's some kind of cross-talk between your phone signal and your DSL signal. This is typically a hardware/signal issue that the telephone company needs to resolve.

April 4, 2006 12:28 PM


I was wondering if you could help me I have AOL and recently while I have been on the internet it keeps recoonecting every ten mins or so while I am on the web. I have called AOL support but they have been no help

Many thanks


May 27, 2006 5:56 PM

Leo - I had the same problem with my IE home page setting grayed out in IE tools. It was my Spybot that I've had on this machine for over a year. Thanks!!

~ David

August 13, 2006 12:45 AM

Hi Leo,
I have just one question. In IE's Tools, Internet Options, General Tab, Homepage Section, my Homepage Box has an autocomplete function that lists a huge number of websites that I've visited, some of which I wouldn't want my teenagers to see. I didn't know the homepage box even had an autocomplete function until I decided to change my homepage to Google. As soon as I typed in the first "W", out pops this list of websites that are supposedly listed as possibilities for my homepage. (Believe me, I wouldn't want some of them to be my homepage). My problem, Leo, is I can't seem to delete any of the pages listed in this "homepage autocomplete list". Do you have any suggestions on how I can do this? I've searched the internet for any reference to this feature and have found nothing. Can you help? Thanks a lot. Frank

Leo Notenboom
August 13, 2006 2:54 PM

I believe that several of the items in this article: will apply. (The items NOT about the toolbar, actually - it has a lot of history-erasing information).

October 14, 2006 2:07 PM

I joined pogo some time ago, everyso often I have a grey page & am not able to get into the games, this is so very frustrating.I have wrote to them so many times of course they haven't a phone no.which makes it even harder not being able to speak to a human being. Is their anyone who could help with this problem.???????????

January 25, 2007 2:55 AM

if the tab is there and the home page has been set to a specific site and locked then do this
click start run and type in regedit then press enter
go to this string HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Inte rnet Explorer\Control Panel\Homepage once here rigth click on the word hompage and select modify...change the value data to 0 click ok...this will unlock the hompage..... remember 0 to open hompage and 1 to lock it...

March 24, 2008 2:46 AM

Dear Sir. i have one problem in internet option that is, In home page there are three option ;USE CURRENT, USE DEFAULT AND USE BLANK these three are not Freez/ not working can u help me in this regard. i m waiting for your answer. i will be very thankfull to you. zia

jane allen
April 4, 2008 8:45 PM

AutoComplete in IE7 does not work. Everything is checked but the "apply" box is grayed out. I've made the rounds of the newsgroups and see other people have the same problem. This may be an IE7 bug but what do you think? I suppose if this is worst problem IE7 has it must be doing good...but dang...I sure did like not having to enter usernames and passwords.

August 31, 2009 1:19 PM

I am having a problem with IE on my laptop. I think it is version 6.0; but, I can't get my pc to do anything so I can't check. The browser window frame opens, but, nothing loads. Every thing I hvae found with instructions to remedy the problem says go to tools/interent option--but I can't get there...Internet Options is greyed out. It was running really slow and I stopped the explorer.exe process in Task Manager one day--it hasn't worked since. How can I fix this. Thanks.

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