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Windows 7: Internet Explorer Protected Mode - Turn On or Off

Internet Explorer Protected Mode - Turn On or Off

How to Turn Protected Mode On or Off in Internet Explorer
Published by Brink
12 Feb 2010
Published by

How to Turn Protected Mode On or Off in Internet Explorer

information   Information
Protected mode in IE7, IE8, IE9, IE10, and IE11 is a feature that makes it more difficult for malicious software to be installed on your computer.

In addition to helping protect your computer from malicious software, protected mode allows you to install wanted ActiveX controls or add-ons when you are logged in as an administrator.

Protected mode is turned on by default in the Internet, Local intranet, and Restricted sites zones and an icon appears on the status bar (see example screenshot below) to let you know that it's running.

For more information about Protected Mode in Internet Explorer, see:

This tutorial will show you how to turn protected mode on or off in each of these security zones.

Note   Note
In addition to warning you when webpages try to install software with protected mode turned on in the security zone, Internet Explorer will warn you when webpages try to run certain software programs. You are warned when a software program would run outside of Internet Explorer and outside of protected mode, because that program might have more access to your computer than you prefer. This usually happens when a website is using an add-on to run a software program on your computer. If you are viewing more than one website at a time, check all open websites to be sure you know which one is trying to run the program before granting your permission. If you trust the program and want to allow it to run on any website, select the Do not show me the warning for this program again check box.
  • If you turned the warning off and want to show it again, you need to reset Internet Explorer's settings.
  • If you do not want to allow webpages to use an add-on to run a specific software program on your computer and do not want to see the warning dialog as described above, you can disable the add-on that is being used.
warning   Warning
If you turn off UAC, then this will also disable protected mode for all users on the computer no matter if you have protected mode turned on or off in Internet Explorer below.

You must have UAC set to the default level below or higher to be able to turn on Protected Mode in Internet Explorer.

EXAMPLE: Internet Explorer Protected Mode in Internet Explorer 8
NOTE: Only in Internet Explorer 8 you will see what security zone you are in at the bottom right in the status bar in, and whether protected mode is turned on or off for that security zone. This is not displayed in IE9, IE10, and IE11.
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Here's How:
1. Open Internet Explorer.
NOTE: In Windows 8, this would only apply to the desktop Internet Explorer, and not the modern Internet Explorer.

2. Click/tap on Tools on the menu bar, and Internet Options.

3. In the Security tab, select the zone that you want to turn protected mode on or off in. (see screenshots below)
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4. To Turn On Protected Mode in Internet Explorer
A) Check the Enable Protected Mode box, and click/tap on Apply. (see screenshots above)

B) Go to step 6.
5. To Turn Off Protected Mode in Internet Explorer
A) Uncheck the Enable Protected Mode box, and click/tap on Apply. (see screenshots above)
6. Repeats steps 3 to 5 if you want to turn protected mode on or off for any other zone.

7. When done, click/tap on OK. (see screenshots above)

8. Close and reopen Internet Explorer to apply.
That's it,

05 Oct 2010   #1

Windows 7 Pro x64

There is a fundamental difference in the way that IE8 set itself up; and this depends on the shortcut used to open it. The 'Launch Internet explorer' shortcut provided by Microsoft will result in protected mode being turned off even if you have ticked all the boxes and have UAC on. The work around is to find iexplore.exe: usually in "C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe", create a shortcut for the desktop and using this shortcut, IE8 will always open with protected mode on; at least mine does!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Oct 2010   #2
Microsoft MVP

64-bit Windows 8.1 Enterprise

Hello HantsDave,

I'm not sure why you are having this issue, but it does not matter what shortcut you open IE8 with for this. The only thing that affects IE8 Protected Mode being On or Off is having the UAC notification settings to a level lower than the default level, and having it turned on as in the tutorial.

Could you post the path for the shortcut that doesn't open with protected mode on when it does open on for the other shortcut?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Oct 2010   #3

Windows 7 Pro x64

Hi Brink
This is weird! The original 'Launch Internet Explorer Browser' shortcut that comes with Windows 7 points to "C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe" with Start In %HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH% and always has Protected Mode: Off! This is despite ticking all the 'Enable protected mode boxes'. Setting Internet zone security levels to default or to custom levels does not alter this behaviour, even on a reboot.

Creating a new shortcut to C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe has Start in "C:\Program Files (x86)\Internet Explorer" otherwise everything else appears the same; same owner, same permissions. This always has protected mode on even when ‘Start in’ is changed to %HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH%

The shortcuts both sit in C:\Users\David\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch.

Another thing I’ve noticed which might be relevant. I changed the behaviour of URL links that opened in various sized windows and which I could never assure would open maximised and where there is no ‘Run’ maximised available. Using Default program in Control Panel and changing the associate .url file type from Internet Explorer to Internet Explorer Browser has made all url links open maximised as long as my IE shortcut is opening maximised; which of course can be controlled because there is the option to run maximised.

Certainly in the Associate file window I can see both Internet Browser and Internet Explorer and they seem to be different bits of software! For example, with Internet Browser I can change the shortcut icon in Properties whereas with Explorer the option does not appear. Another example: changing the associate file type for .lnk from unknown application to IE, removed all my icons. Removing the UserChoice key in the registry gave me back my icons and reverted to associated file back to unknown application.

Note that I only have IE8 on my Windows 7 Pro version 6.1.7600 build 7600 64bit system.

The sun has come out here in Hampshire so time to have coffee and read the paper! All the best.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Oct 2010   #4
Microsoft MVP

64-bit Windows 8.1 Enterprise

Not sure why. Let's see if others are seeing the same as you.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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