Friday, 16 March 2007

Internet Explorer 7: how to speed up; and annoyances

I've only just upgraded to IE7, finally. For me the biggest pain was that it was very slow opening up webpages. I knew it wasn't the sites in question because I tried the same pages in Firefox and they loaded up much more quickly.

UPDATE: I found two registry tweaks to speed up Internet Explorer. See this post for full details and shortcuts to install them for yourself. For IE7 tweaks generally, I like this page.

So, I went hunting on Google and found this Windows XP tweak, which I didn't quite implement in exactly the same way, but it certainly worked for me.
What it does is to increase the number of streams that Internet Explorer uses to download stuff from Web servers from the default of 2.
For some reason I'd already got MaxConnectionsPer1_0Server set to 12 connections (hex a) so I didn't change that as I didn't think reducing it to 6 would help. (Maybe I'd already tweaked IE in the past and forgotten about it).
But I noticed that I didn't have a MaxConnectionsPerServer setting in my Registry, so I went and put one in, and made the setting 12 (hex a) instead of 6. And that seems to have made a big difference, for me anyway.

Apart from the slowness, from a consumer viewpoint the other things I like least about IE7 are to do with the reduction in user control (control freak that I am!). One thing I managed to fix; the others, well if anyone knows how to sort them out, I'd be very grateful to hear it!

1. Menu. They took away the menu (File, View etc). Luckily you can get the old Internet Explorer menu back; restore the menu via the Tools button (the cogwheel), tick Menu Bar.

2. Down arrows by the Back and Forward buttons. There's only a single arrow by the 2 new back/forward buttons in the top left hand corner showing recently visited pages. I don't like that. When we had arrows with dropdown lists separately by each of the back and forward buttons, I knew exactly where I was, exactly where I'd been in what direction, and exactly how to get there. Maybe I'll get used to the single list, but I still don't like it.

3. The new search box. I use Google toolbar, which I prefer, so I don't need the new built in search box in IE7. It annoys me, taking up screen real estate unnecessarily, and I'd turn it off if I could (UPDATE: found a tweak to get rid of the Internet Explorer 7 search box! See this). But it's not like the space it occupies can be taken by anything else, they've stopped you putting anything else there anyway. Which leads to my next annoyance.

4. Toolbar positioning and control. Again, from my perspective as a control freak, I like positioning my toolbars exactly where I want them, in the size I like, in the order I like. A small thing, but it drives me mad in IE7, is that the toolbar with the home, tools etc icons can only be moved left and right. You can't move it up above the level of the tabs headings. Or I can't, and haven't figured out how. Not to mention that I can't move the top toolbar with the right/left buttons and address bar etc at all. Plus, a few times now, I've moved what I can, but next time I launch Internet Explorer it doesn't seem to have saved my new toolbar locations (sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't).

And why did they take away the Customize option from the View, Toolbars menu? OK, it's in the Tools button dropdown under Toolbars, but would it have hurt to leave an extra link to that option where it used to be?

As for not being able to set toolbar icon size via the Customise icon menu, whose daft idea was that? The only way you can get to that setting (tick or untick Use Large Icons) is by rightclicking the home etc toolbar - they could have put it in the Tools dropdown, so why didn't they? A usability stupidity in my view. Similarly, to set selective text, no text etc for toolbars, you have to rightclick the home etc toolbar - again you can't even get to that via the Customize Toolbars option of the Tools button dropdown. I can understand the logic of trying to simplify things by having a Tools button, but they could at least be consistent and put all the toolbar controls and options there, instead of making you rightclick the home etc toolbar in order to get to some of them.

Plus, without asking me, IE7 has reset my file type associations so that Outlook hyperlinks open in IE instead of Firefox and I had to tweak yet it again to make links in Outlook emails etc open in Firefox by default.

Ah well, at least the old keyboard shortcuts still work, as do my search addons to let me use the keyboard to search Google, Amazon, IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes etc quickly. (Ctrl l then "a [my search term]" etc, if you want to know!)

Teething and getting used to stuff and all that, and at least IE 7 is meant to be more secure. But Firefox is still my browser of choice because of its faster speed, flexibility of extensions, Greasemonkey scripts etc, and of course its open sourceiness ().


phydeaux3 said...

open sourceiness

Nice word. :-)

I agree on the usability/custom ability issues. The interface is rather horrid to me. I thought I might get used to it, but I haven't.

Just as well, melikes Firefox as well.

Improbulus said...

Ta Kirk!

And I agree, given all that development time, why on earth didn't they manage to get the interface halfway decent.

By the way have you seen that great post by Scott Berkun (one of the original IE developers) on why he switched to Firefox? It's on IE6 rather than 7 but many of the points still hold true with 7, if not more so.

Anonymous said...

I've recently tried IE7, and I must say it will sit unused on my HD like IE6 did. I agree with all your complaints here. The single history menu drives me bonkers! It's amazing how IE has slipped years behind the Firefox team.