If there’s one thing that is likely to confuse you about Internet Explorer 9, it is add-ons and the different types available. This is the only browser that currently has four types of add-ons (some even with sub-types). Therefore, we decided to help clear the mystery and explain each type and sub-type of add-ons in detail, so that you understand what they do and how you can use them.
Finding & Viewing Your Installed Add-ons
Unfortunately there is no keyboard shortcut for opening the Manage Add-ons window, where all your installed add-ons are listed. Click on the Tools icon (Alt + X) and then on ’Manage add-ons’.
All your installed add-ons are listed, split by type: Toolbars and Extensions, Search Providers, Accelerators, and Tracking Protection. Clicking on each category opens a list with the add-ons of that type, installed on your computer. You can filter the list of add-ons by clicking on any of the columns of data, shown in the right panel.
Another way to sort the add-ons listed, is to use the Show drop-down menu, which can be used to filter and show: all add-ons, only the ones currently loaded, those run without permission and downloaded controls.
The Types of Add-ons Explained
There are four big types of add-ons available (some with a set of sub-types). Let’s take them one by one and discuss in detail what they are and how they can help you:
The first type of add-ons is Toolbars and Extensions. As the name says, these add-ons come in the form of toolbars such as the Google Toolbar or simply extensions which add more functionality to the browser, such as showing the weather forecast. When you browse through the list of Toolbars and Extensions, you will notice that they are actually some sub-types available: Toolbar (this is easy, no need to explain it further), Browser Extension (normal extensions which add new functionality - just like in Firefox or Chrome), Active X Controls (the Adobe Flash Player is a good example) and Browser Helper Objects (they are generally plug-ins that allow Internet Explorer to render additional types of data - e.g. Adobe Acrobat is a Browser Helper Object, allowing Internet Explorer to open and render PDF files directly in the browser).
We have finished with the first and most "complex" type of add-ons. Let’s go to the "simpler" ones.
The second type of add-ons is called Search Providers. As the name says, you can use a search provider to search content on the web. If you type some keywords in the Address bar of Internet Explorer 9, the browser will automatically make a search using the default search provider. By default, Bing is the search provider used by Internet Explorer 9. Obviously, you can install other search providers, including Google Search.
Accelerators can be very powerful helpers in shortening the time it takes you to do certain tasks, such as selecting with the mouse an address and then searching for its location with Bing Maps. To use an accelerator, you always need to first select a piece of text from a webpage, right click and, from the right click menu, select the action you want to perform. Default actions done by the standard set of accelerators include: sending an e-mail with the selected text with Windows Live, searching the selected address on Bing Maps, searching the selected text on Bing, translating the selected text into another language with Bing Translator. You can install many other accelerators and have them help you
Last but not least, the fourth type of add-ons is the so called Tracking Protection. This is improperly named an add-on. It is more like a feature of Internet Explorer 9 which allows you to subscribe to so called ’protection lists’. These are lists with content that will be blocked by Internet Explorer 9, when encountered on the web. It’s most useful to block ads or content that can be used to gather information about your browsing habits, such as third-party cookies.
Now that I arrived at the end of this tutorial, I hope I managed to clarify what’s up with the different types of add-ons. If you still have questions or issues on the topic, don’t be shy and use the content form below to start a conversation. Otherwise, simply check out the articles recommended below. You will find out other interesting things about Internet Explorer 9.
Top 9 Must Have Add-ons for Internet Explorer 9
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Internet Explorer 9 - How to Install Add-ons
Internet Explorer 9 - How to Remove or Disable Add-ons