How to fix the error message “Internet Explorer Has Stopped Working” when Internet Explorer (IE) becomes unstable. IE may stop working properly, producing this (not very helpful) error message – as if we didn’t know that it had stopped working…
Of course you could switch to an alternative (and possibly more secure and faster) browser like Firefox or Chrome but, if you want to keep Internet Explorer, we explain below how to fix it:
1. Reset IE Security Settings – IE security settings may have been incorrectly changed by antivirus software or other programs – changing them back to their defaults may cure IE errors.
Open IE and click on ‘Tools’ then click on ‘Internet Options’ (if you cannot open IE you can access Internet Options directly from the Control Panel). In the Internet Options window:
- click the Security tab and then click ‘Reset All Zones to Default Level’ (if it is greyed out then skip to the next step) and click Apply.
- click the Privacy tab and then click ‘Default’ (if it is greyed out then skip to the next step) and click Apply.
- click the Advanced tab and scroll down the list of Settings to the Browsing section.
Tick ‘Disable Script Debugging (Internet Explorer)’ and tick ‘Disable Script Debugging (Other)’ if they are not already ticked.
Untick ‘Display a notification about every script error’ and untick ‘Enable automatic crash recovery’ if they are not already unticked and click Apply. Click ‘OK’ to close the Internet Options window and then close IE.
2. Remove Unnecessary Toolbars – Badly programmed add-ons and toolbars are the most common causes of IE slowdown and “Internet Explorer has stopped working” errors – often they are installed without your knowledge by games or utility programs. Be ruthless and get rid of any you don’t use!
- Click Start, Control Panel and then Programs, Programs and Features (Vista and 7) or Add/Remove Programs (XP) to view a list of all programs you have installed. Look for any programs with the word toolbar e.g. games toolbar, conduit toolbar, seekmo toolbar, smiley toolbar, Ask or Skype toolbar etc.
- Uninstall all the ones you do not use – you can always download and reinstall one later (knowing that it is a new version, not an old one that may be incompatible with the latest versions of IE).
- After removing them, restart your computer and open IE. With fewer toolbars on display you may also notice that you have a lot more room at the top of IE to view webpages – a bonus if you are using a small laptop or netbook screen.
3. Disable Unnecessary Add-ons – Some add-ons (like the safe browsing software WOT) can be essential but many are not required and can slow down IE or cause “Internet Explorer has stopped working” errors.
Open IE and and click on ‘Tools’ then click on ‘Manage Add-ons’ (if you cannot open IE you can access ‘Manage Add-ons’ by opening Internet Options from Control Panel, clicking on the Programs tab and clicking the Manage Add-ons button). In the Manage Add-ons window:
Review the list of add-ons that are currently Enabled. Leave Enabled all those that come under the company headings of Microsoft (and your antivirus software or safe search software like WOT) but Disable all the others – to disable an add-on just click on it to select/highlight it then click the Disable button (you will notice the Status of that add-on changes to Disabled).
After disabling the add-ons, close the Manage Add-ons window and close IE. Restart IE and see if it now works ok without crashing. If it does then follow this step again but this time re-enable one add-on then test again to see if IE crashes. Repeat the process of re-enabling one add-on at a time (and testing) until IE does crash – the last add-on that you enabled will be the one that is causing the errors. Leave it disabled or update it to a new version if there is one available.
Tip: add-ons by major companies like Adobe, Oracle/Sun and Google are unlikely to cause a problem unless they are years out of date. It is usually badly written add-ons by smaller companies producing game/coupon/printer/social media add-ons that are to blame.
4. Update Add-ons – It is important to update the add-ons most commonly used in IE – for better security and also to keep them compatible with the latest version of IE. In particular, if you have the following add-ons installed (most people have), see our articles on why/how to update Adobe Reader, Flash Player and Java.
5. Update To The Latest Version Of IE – Updating to the latest version of IE will often cure the “Internet Explorer Has Stopped Working” error message as it is a new program with updated settings – and it is highly recommended anyway for better security and performance.
To check which version you are using: Open IE and click on ‘Help’ and then click on ‘About Internet Explorer’ to display the version number. For XP the latest version is IE8 but for Vista and Windows 7 the latest version is IE9.
If you are not using the latest version for your version of Windows then download and install it now – your computer will need to restart after the installation. IE8 for XP can be downloaded from Microsoft here and IE9 for Vista here and IE11 for W7 here.
6. Disable protected mode – This is for Vista and W7 only, it is NOT available for XP.
Open IE and click on ‘Tools’ then click on ‘Internet Options’ (if you cannot open IE you can access Internet Options directly from the Control Panel). In the Internet Options window: click the Security tab and untick ‘Enable Protected Mode’ and click Apply then OK – now close and restart IE.
7. Reset IE – If all else fails and you still can’t open IE or it keeps giving “Internet Explorer has stopped working” errors, you can reset IE back to it’s default (standard) settings.
Open the Internet Options window, click the Advanced tab and then click the ‘Reset’ button – read the warning and click ‘Reset’ to proceed.
If you had already tried all the previous steps without success, this should reset IE and get it working properly again – use it as a last resort because you will need to reconfigure IE again and either reinstall or re-enable any add-ons.
8. Use Microsoft Fix Its – If you still get the Internet Explorer has stopped working error, Microsoft also offer automated ‘fix its’ which may help.
I have reviewed how to use MS Fix It Center – a program that can troubleshoot problems for you.
If you prefer not to install the whole of Fix It Center, here are the links to two specific Microsoft fixes for IE to fix freezes and to make IE stable. These fixes are automated – just click the ‘Run now’ button then follow the onscreen prompts to launch the fix it.