How to Fix It When Internet Explorer Won't Open

Check this list if you're still running IE on an old(ish) computer

Internet Explorer works fine most of the time, but there are times when it 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 it working again in no time.

Internet Explorer became obsolete when Windows 10 rolled out, and Microsoft doesn't support it anymore. If you use IE on an older system, this article is for you. These tactics can also be applied to the Microsoft Edge browser or any browser you have trouble with, even on the latest versions of Windows.

Possible Causes of Internet Explorer Not Opening

Several issues can cause Internet Explorer not to open, including:

  • Corrupted default settings
  • Changes to important internet settings as programs are installed
  • Add-ons
  • Malicious software that changed or corrupted important IE registry keys

How to Fix Internet Explorer's Failure to Open

Sometimes, getting Internet Explore to open normally is a simple fix, akin to a fresh start. Other times, the solution is more involved. Try each of the steps below to nail down and fix the issue.

  1. Force Internet Explorer to quit. After it quits, reopen it. Often, Internet Explorer runs in the background after you close it. Force-quitting the process takes it out of this limbo, allowing you to restart the program fresh.

  2. Restart the computer. This clears out the electronic debris left by all the actions you take while using your computer, for example, opening, closing, installing, and deleting programs.

  3. Restart the computer in Safe Mode. This is a good way to see if malicious software has corrupted your system files. This prevents malware from starting up. If Internet Explorer opens without a hitch, the cause of the issue likely lies with a malware infection.

    If that's the case, your next step is to reset your Internet Explorer security settings. If that doesn't fix the problem, completely reinstall Internet Explorer.

  4. Run Internet Explorer with add-ons disabled. Some add-ons interfere with the web browser's normal operation or corrupt system files. If Internet Explorer opens as it should with add-ons disabled, use the Add-On Manager to turn on those you need one by one, checking the browser's functionality as you go.

  5. Make sure you have version 11. Internet Explorer 11 is the most recent (and final) version of the web browser. After installing the necessary updates, restart the computer. This should replace any Internet Explorer DLL files that were 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.

  6. Reinstall Internet Explorer. If none of the above options work and you still can't get Internet Explorer to open, reinstall it.

    The web browser is included as a Windows feature, so you can't uninstall and reinstall it like a normal app. Instead, you must disable and then reenable it as a Windows feature.

How to Fix Internet Explorer's Failure to Open When You Click a Link

Sometimes, when you click a URL on a website, Internet Explorer doesn't open the link, especially if the web browser is open. Whatever the reason, there are a few things you can do to fix it.

  1. Make sure the default browser for opening web links is set to Internet Explorer.

  2. Set web file associations to Internet Explorer. This makes IE your default app for opening links.

Prevent a Repeat

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

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