How to Fix It When Internet Explorer Won't Open

How to troubleshoot and fix Internet Explorer not opening

Person using Task Manager on a PC laptop to find Internet Explorer



Internet Explorer became obsolete when Windows 10 rolled out, and Microsoft does not support it anymore. If you're still using IE on an older system this article is for you.

Also, you may find these tactics can be applied to Microsoft Edge browser or any other browser you may be having trouble with, even on the latest and greatest versions of Windows.

Most of the time Internet Explorer works fine, but there are times when Internet Explorer won't open no matter what you try.

There are a number of reasons this can happen, but if you work from the simplest solution to the more complex ones, you should get Internet Explorer (IE) working again in no time.

Common Fixes When Internet Explorer Won't Open

If the problem isn't too serious, there are a few things you can do that'll fix the problem quickly.

Before you dig further, try the following quick fixes.

  • Right-click on the taskbar and select Task Manager. Look for Internet Explorer in the Processes tab. If it's there, close it.
  • Restart your computer. Often this resolves issues when IE won't open.

Many times, the Internet Explorer app stays running in the background when you close the application.

Screenshot of the Internet Explorer process running on Windows

By closing the process or restarting your computer, it will allow Internet Explorer to open again.

Internet Explorer Won't Open When You Click a Link

Sometimes, the behavior you may experience is when you click a URL in a website when you have Internet Explorer open, Internet Explorer doesn't open the link.

There are many reasons this can happen.

  • The setting for the default web browser gets corrupted.
  • Installing other software sometimes changes important internet settings.
  • Browser add-ins can interfere with your browser fully launching.
  • Malicious software may have changed or corrupted important IE registry keys

Whatever the reason is, there are a few things you can do to fix it.

Check Your Default Browser

Make sure your default browser for opening web links is still set to Internet Explorer.

  1. Select the Start menu, and type Internet Options. Select the Internet Options utility.

    Screenshot of opening Internet Options in Windows
  2. Select the Programs tab and under the Opening Internet Explorer section, select Make Internet Explorer the default browser.

    Screenshot of Internet Explorer settings in Windows
  3. This will open the default the Default apps utility. Scroll down to the Web browser section and if Internet Explorer isn't already set as default, select the web browser that is.

    Screenshot of the default Web browser in the Default apps utility
  4. In the pop-up window that lists all of your installed browsers, select Internet Explorer.

    Screenshot of setting the default browser in Windows settings
  5. Once you've set the default browser to Internet Explorer, restart your computer and try opening Internet Explorer again. All links should start in IE now.

Set Web File Association to Internet Explorer

If that fix didn't solve your problem, your default app for opening HTML or web files may no longer be set to Internet Explorer.

You can fix this as follows:

  1. Follow the steps above to get to the Default apps utility. Scroll down and select Choose default apps by file type.

    Screenshot of selecting default apps by file type
  2. Scroll down to the web files (.htm and .html), and select the current default web browser. Then, select Internet Explorer from the list.

    Screenshot of selecting Internet Explorer from the default apps list
  3. This will set HTM and HTML files with Internet Explorer as the default app. Now restart Internet Explorer and all web links should now open in Internet Explorer by default.

Internet Explorer Will Not Open Due to Add-Ons

If the Internet Explorer app won't open at all on your computer, it could be related to an add-on you've installed. Some add-ons are known to interfere with the normal operation of Internet Explorer, or even corrupt IE system files.

You can verify this by running Internet Explorer in safe mode.

  1. Select the Start menu and type CMD. Select the Command Prompt Desktop app.

    Screenshot of the Command Prompt desktop app in Windows
  2. Type cd/ and press Enter. Then type "c\program files\internet explorer\iexplore.exe" -extoff and press Enter.

    Screenshot of the command to open Internet Explorer without addons
  3. This will open Internet Explorer without any add-ons enabled. If IE opens in this mode, then you know that most likely one of the add-ons you've installed is causing the issue.

Enable Select Internet Explorer Add-Ons

If you've discovered that add-ons are the problem, you can use the Add-On Manager to turn off all of your add-ons and then only enable the ones you really need one at a time.

To enable add-ons one at a time:

  1. Open Internet Explorer in safe mode using the steps above. Then select the gear icon at the upper right and select Manage add-ons.

    Screenshot of selecting Manage add-ons in Internet Explorer
  2. In the Add-On Manager, right-click each add-on one at a time and select Enable.

    Screenshot of enabling Add-ons in Internet Explorer
  3. Only enable the add-ons you absolutely need. If you notice any of those cause the same problem again, disable the add-on and remove it from Internet Explorer.

Internet Explorer Won't Open Because of Corrupt Files

Another cause of Internet Explorer not opening may be malicious software that has corrupted Internet Explorer system files.

To see if this is causing your issue, restart your computer in safe mode. This will ensure that none of the malicious apps start when your computer does.

To start your computer in safe mode:

  1. Restart your computer and hold down the Shift key.
  2. After the computer restarts, select Troubleshoot, then select Advanced Options, then select Startup Settings, and finally Restart.
  3. After the computer restarts again, follow the on-screen instructions to start in safe mode.

Once you've launched your computer in safe mode, try starting Internet Explorer. If it starts, then you know that the issue you were having before restarting your computer in safe mode may have been malicious software.

If malicious software modified your Internet Explorer settings, you have a couple of options to set things back to normal. You can reset your Internet Explorer settings or Reinstall Internet Explorer.

To reset Internet Explorer settings:

  1. Select the Start menu and type Control Panel. Select Control Panel and Internet Options.

    Screenshot of selecting Internet Options in the Control Panel
  2. In Internet Options, select the Advanced tab. Under the Reset Internet Explorer settings section, select Reset.

    Screenshot of the Reset option in Internet Options
  3. In the Reset Internet Explorer Settings window, enable Delete personal settings. Select Reset to finish the IE reset process.

    Screenshot of resetting Internet Explorer settings
  4. Once you've reset Internet Explorer, restart your computer and try opening Internet Explorer again. If it works, then you've resolved the issue.

Update Internet Explorer

If resetting Internet Explorer doesn't work, you may need to update it. You can repair your Internet Explorer installation as follows:

  1. Visit the Microsoft Internet Explorer download page and download the latest update for your version of Internet Explorer.
  2. Download and run the Internet Explorer update file.

Once you've installed the latest update, restart your computer. This update should replace any Internet Explorer DLL files that might have been corrupted by malicious software.

Even if resetting or updating Internet Explorer settings fixes the issue, you may still have malicious software on your computer. It's a good idea to run a full antivirus scan.

Reinstall Internet Explorer

Finally, if none of the above options worked and you still can't get Internet Explorer to open, you'll need to fully reinstall Internet Explorer.

Since Internet Explorer is included as a Windows feature, you can't uninstall it and reinstall it like a normal app. Instead, you need to disable and then reenable it as a Windows feature.

Select the Start menu, type Control Panel, and select Control Panel. In the Control Panel, select Programs and Features.

In Programs and Features, select Turn Windows features on or off.

Screenshot of Programs and Features in Windows

In the Windows Features window, you'll see Internet Explorer enabled. Disable it, and select OK.

Screenshot of Internet Explorer in Windows Features

Reboot the computer to finalize the uninstall of Internet Explorer. Once your computer reboots, repeat the above steps and reenable Internet Explorer. You'll need to restart your computer one more time to finish the reinstallation.

Internet Explorer Not Opening

If you've gotten this far in this article, you should find that Internet Explorer is working fine again.

To avoid the issue from happening again, make sure to install good antivirus and anti-malware scanning software. Also ensure that after you run Windows updates, Internet Explorer is still working. If it isn't, you can use the steps listed above to fix it again.