A browser by itself is a poor thing, letting you browse the web, but little else. To get the most out of the internet, you need add-ons that give your browser plenty of extra features. Firefox is well known for its plug-ins, but there aren't as many available for Internet Explorer. Still, you needn't feel left out in the cold because there are in fact, plenty of add-ons for IE.

Here's a run-down of our favourite Internet Explorer add-ons. And we're not talking about the obvious ones, such as the Google Toolbar, Yahoo Toolbar or Windows Live Toolbar, because you probably already know about them.

Instead, we'll concentrate on lesser-known Internet Explorer add-ons that do everything from killing annoying ads and restoring crashed browsing sessions, to grabbing video from sites such as YouTube and more. Better yet, everyone of them is free.

Quero Toolbar

Tired of being besieged by adverts, including exceedingly annoying Flash ads? Then you'll want the free Quero Toolbar, which makes it easy to customise ad blocking on a site-by-site basis. It will block just about any ad you'll come across, including banner ads, flash animations and many others, including Google ads.

You can turn it on and off, of course, but better yet, you can customise Quero Toolbar for individual sites, allowing ads from some websites and banning them from others. Better still, you can fine-tune it to a remarkable degree, for example, by allowing Google ads and banner ads from a particular site, but banning flash animations.

There's more to the Quero Toolbar as well, including a nice inline search feature that jumps straight to text on a page as you type in a term, the ability to search for any word on a web page by selecting and right-clicking it, and the ability to quickly resize windows. And plenty of included shortcut keys means that mouse-haters need to reach for their rodent less frequently than before.

Quero Toolber


IE7Pro is the best IE add-on we tested; it does everything from blocking ads, to re-opening crashed tabs and more. It even has features that rival the best of Firefox plug-ins.

Like the Quero Toolbar, it will block flash ads as well as other ads, although it doesn't give you quite as many fine-grained controls over blocking or allowing specific kinds of ads on a site-by-site basis. The program truly shines in the way it handles tabs, and this may be its best feature. If IE7 crashes for some reason - and as we all know, there are plenty of reasons why it crashes - the program will automatically restore all the tabs that were open at the time of the crash.

You can also automatically reopen the last tab you've closed to display the site you were visiting when you closed it. And you can reopen tabs you closed before that as well.

This freebie has so many clever features that there's no way to list them all. Here's a simple but particularly useful one: you can have the program automatically scroll down a web page at one of three speeds. It's great for when you're reading a long web page and don't want to have to scroll manually. Just choose the speed, and it'll scroll for you. Similarly, you can have the program autorefresh your current tab, at any interval you chose.

There's plenty more as well, including a forms filler and a mouse gestures feature that lets you do things such as scroll up or down, close tabs and go forward or back by right-clicking the mouse and making a gesture with it. This is clearly the best of the bunch - it's staying in our browser.

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Feeds Plus

The feed reader built into IE7 is one of its niftier features. Make it even better with Feeds Plus, a free add-on built by members of Microsoft's RSS team. Although it's worth noting that because Feeds Plus isn't an official Microsoft product, you won't get support.

It adds a few nice features to IE7's RSS capabilities, including being able to read groups of feeds in a combined view, instead of one feed at a time. In addition, you can tell IE7 to notify you when there's new content in a feed - the Feeds Plus tray icon will glimmer.

Feeds Plus

Inline Search

Hate the way that IE searches on a web page, and wish it were more like Firefox? Then you'll love this Inline Search, which in essence duplicates Firefox's search capabilities.

When you press Ctrl-F to search on a web page (called inline search), you don't get the normal IE floating search box. Instead a search box appears at the bottom of the page and you jump to search matches as you type.

IE7 Open Last Closed Tab

How often have you closed down a tab accidentally and wished that you could re-open it to the website you were just visiting? This little free add-on, available here, does it. After you've closed a tab, and wished you hadn't, press Alt-X, and the tab will re-open to the website you were visiting.

Even better, you can open not just the previous tab you closed, but ones you closed before that one as well. Press Alt-Q, and you'll see a list of all the tabs you've recently closed. Double-click any to reopen it. You can control how many tabs the program remembers in this way, from as few as five to as many as 200. This add-in duplicates one of the features of IE7Pro, but it's ideal if you just want the tab-handling feature and not the other functionality of IE7Pro.


Google may help you narrow down your search for information, but wouldn't it be nice if you could get a better sense of whether each site really matches what you're looking for? This is where the GooglePreviewIE add-on helps.

It shows you a thumbnail preview of each of your search results, so that you'll have a better sense of what you'll visit if you click. It works for Amazon and Yahoo as well. You'll only see thumbnail previews if you use the search box on the GooglePreviewIE toolbar itself. Searching from Google, Amazon or Yahoo or from Internet Explorer's own search box won't show previews.

NEXT PAGE: Correct your spelling in web-based email sites with ieSpell, and a look at other useful IE add-ons available.

Add-ons that give your web browser plenty of features will help you get the most out of the internet. Here's a look at the most useful IE add-ons out there. And as an extra bonus, they're all free!


How many times have you been embarrassed by a spelling error you've made on the web. For example, when creating and sending email from web-based email sites such as Gmail, or on your blog?

Probably more than you'd like, or more than you even know. ieSpell offers a solution.

It's a simple-to-use spell checker that integrates directly into Internet Explorer. It works just like the spell checker in a word-processing program and lets you add your own words to the dictionary. Also, ieSpell works anywhere you type in text, including forms, blogs, web-based email and more.

In addition to checking your spelling, it will also look up definitions in Merriam-Webster online or link you to Wikipedia. You can even integrate the spell checker with your Microsoft Office spell checker so that they share the same custom dictionary.


Leech Video

Frustrated that you can't download and save videos from video-sharing sites such as YouTube, or from other sites such as CNN? Then get this simple add-on. Leech Video installs as a button on your tool bar. Play a video, click the button and a pop-up appears.

Right-click the link toward the bottom of the pop-up, choose Save Video and you'll be able to download and save the video. Note that you'll have to tell Internet Explorer to allow pop-ups or it won't work.


This add-on combines two of the internet's most popular activities - finding new websites and connecting and sharing with others. Install the toolbar and tell it what topics you're interested in.

When you click on the Stumble button, you'll be sent to a website that matches your interests. Every time you click the button, you'll be sent to another site related to your interests. For each site you visit, you can click a button saying whether you like or dislike it, and StumbleUpon learns from that and fine-tunes the sites to which it sends you.

In addition, as you surf the web on your own, click a button saying whether you like or dislike the site you're visiting on your own, and StumbleUpon learns from that as well.

You can also recommend the sites you visit to others, connect with those who have similar interests to you and visit web sites others have recommended. All-in-all, this is one of those add-ons that you'll either love or hate. If you like social networking sites and discovering new sites in a leisurely fashion, you'll enjoy it. If not, you won't see its point.

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You've probably heard of the del.icio.us site although you may not have a clue what it's about. Like StumbleUpon, it's a hybrid that combines web surfing with social networking.

At its most basic level, it lets you bookmark sites and apply tags to them, so that they're later easier to find by searching or browsing through keywords. The bookmarks and keywords are stored online, rather than in Internet Explorer, so you can access them from any computer.

You can also share bookmarks with friends, family and co-workers and see bookmarks they share as well. And you can also see what sites have been bookmarked most frequently by other visitors to the site, as a way to find new and interesting sites. In addition, you can browse through sites that have been bookmarked based on tags.

For example, see the most popular sites tagged with the words Internet, Java or politics.

McAfee SiteAdvisor

If you're looking for an all-in-one security add-in for Internet Explorer, this is the one to get. It's particularly useful if you want to make sure you don't visit potentially dangerous websites or sites that may host spyware.

Whenever you visit a site, the SiteAdvisor button turns green (for safe), red (for dangerous) or yellow (possibly dangerous). Click the button for details about the site's rating. In addition, when you do a search on a site such as Google, a red, green or yellow button appears next to each individual result. The add-on does more as well, including a warning about potential phishing sites.