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Nikitangel - wyarian

Clearing Internet Explorer History and Sticking It To The Man

A friend recently asked me how to clear her Internet Explorer history on her work computer, since the tech people had grayed out the button under "Options."  The solution is a bit tech-y, so I thought I'd share the answer here in case other people are in the same boat.  It involves editing the Windows Registry, so it's a delicate deal and you MUST back-up the file first.  You do NOT want to mess with your Registry without a back-up.  I take no responsibility for any issues that arise from this. 

(Make sure to close all IE windows before beginning)


1. BACK UP THE REGISTRY.  If you already know how to do this, skip to step 2.

     1a.  Click "Start", "Run" and type regedit in W2K and XP, or for NT type RegEdit32.  Click 'OK'.
     1b. Click "File", "Export...". Decide where you want to store the backup file, type a name for the file, select All under Export range, and click Save. Your Registry file is now backed up.
     1c.  If ever you need to restore the Registry, double-click the Registry file that you created. Choose Import Registry File under Registry, select the Registry file, and click Open

2.  If you're not already in the Registry Editor, click "Start", "Run" and type regedit in W2K and XP, or for NT type RegEdit32.  Click 'OK'.

3.  Navigate to the following string:  HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Control Panel .  If you get to the Microsoft key folder and don't see keys for Internet Explorer\Control Panel, you'll need to add Internet Explorer as a subkey of Microsoft and Control Panel as a subkey of Internet Explorer. Here is how:

     3a. Click on the "Microsoft" folder.  Click "Edit", then hover over "New" until the menu opens to the right.  Click "Key".  Name the new key "Internet Explorer."
     3b. Click on your new "Internet Explorer" folder.  Click "Edit", then hover over "New" until the menu opens to the right.  Click on "DWORD value.". Name the new DWORD value "Control Panel."

4.  Right-click the "Control Panel" value and choose Modify. Change the data from 0 to 1.


That should do it.  Start up IE and see if the "Clear History" button is still grayed-out.  You may need to reboot your computer to see the change take effect. 

My advice is to change the 1 back to a 0 after you're done clearing the history.  You don't want the techies to realize you are skirting the system!  It all sounds complicated, but you get used to doing it at the end of the day.  If it doesn't work for you, it's possible that the techies have taken away Registry-editing privileges from you, in which case you're pretty much SOL.  Sorry.

I tried to be as clear as possible writing these instructions up, but I realize I am a bit of a techie myself.  If you have questions, leave a comment and I'll do what I can to help.

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Nikitangel - wyarian

March 2012

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