How to Disable Protected Mode in Internet Explorer

Steps to Disable Protected Mode in IE 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11

Screenshot of the Internet Explorer logo


Protected Mode helps prevents malicious software from exploiting vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, protecting your computer from the most common ways that hackers can gain access to your system.

As important as Protected Mode is, it has been known to cause problems in specific situations, so disabling the feature might be beneficial in troubleshooting certain issues.

However, do not disable Protected Mode unless you have reason to believe it's causing a major problem in Internet Explorer. If it's otherwise behaving normally, it's safest to keep it enabled.

Follow these easy steps to disable Internet Explorer Protected Mode:

Time Required: Disabling Protected Mode in Internet Explorer is easy and usually takes less than 5 minutes

Internet Explorer Method

Screenshot of the Enable Protected Mode option in IE
Internet Options Window (IE11).

These steps apply to Internet Explorer versions 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11, when installed on Windows 10Windows 8Windows 7, or Windows Vista.

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
    1. Note: If you'd rather not go through Internet Explorer to disable Protected Mode, see Tip 2 at the bottom of this page for some alternative methods.
  2. From the Internet Explorer command bar, choose Tools and then Internet options.
    1. Note: In Internet Explorer 9, 10, and 11, the Tools menu can be seen by hitting the Alt key once. See What Version of Internet Explorer Do I Have? if you're not sure.
  3. In the Internet Options window, click on the Security tab.
  4. Below the Security level for this zone area, and directly above the Custom level... and Default level buttons, uncheck the Enable Protected Mode checkbox.
    1. Note: Disabling Protected Mode requires a restart of Internet Explorer, as you may have seen next to the checkbox in this step.
  5. Click OK on the Internet Options window.
  6. If you're prompted with a Warning! dialog box, advising that The current security settings will put your computer at risk., click the OK button.
  7. Close Internet Explorer and then open it up again.
    1. Tip: You can be sure that Protected Mode is truly disabled by checking the setting again, but there should also be a brief message at the bottom of Internet Explorer that says it's turned off.

    Try again to visit the web sites that were causing your problems to see if resetting the Internet Explorer security settings on your computer helped.

    Windows Registry Method

    Screenshot of the Windows 10 registry DWORD value for disabling IE protected mode
    Disabling Protected Mode in the Registry (Windows 10).

    An advanced way to disable Protected Mode in Internet Explorer is through the Windows Registry.

    1. Open Registry Editor.
    2. Use the folders on the left to navigate to the following key within the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive:
      \Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\
    3. In the Internet Settings key, open the Zones subkey and open the numbered folder that corresponds to the zone that you want to disable Protected Mode in.
      1. 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 are for the Local computer, Intranet, Trusted sites, Internet, and Restricted sites zones, respectively.
    4. Create a new REG_DWORD value called 2500 within any of these zones to set whether Protected Mode should be enabled or disabled, where a value of 3 disables Protected Mode and a value of 0 enables Protected Mode.

    You can read more about how to manage Protected Mode settings this way in this Super User thread.

    More Help & Information on IE Protected Mode

    1. Protected Mode in not available with Internet Explorer when installed on Windows XP. Windows Vista is the earliest operating system that supports Protected Mode.
    2. There are other ways to open Internet Options to change the Protected Mode setting. One is with Control Panel, but an even quicker method is through a Command Prompt or the Run dialog box, using the inetcpl.cpl command. Another is via Internet Explorer's menu button at the top right of the program (which you can trigger with the Alt+X keyboard shortcut).
    3. You should always keep software like Internet Explorer updated. See How to Update Internet Explorer if you need help.
    4. Protected Mode is disabled by default only in the Trusted sites and Local intranet zones, which is why you have to manually uncheck the Enable Protected Mode checkbox in the Internet and Restricted sites zones.
    5. Some versions of Internet Explorer on some versions of Windows can use what's called Enhanced Protected Mode. This is also found in the Internet Options window, but under the Advanced tab. If you enable Enhanced Protected Mode in Internet Explorer, you have to restart your computer for it to take effect.