How to Uninstall or Remove Internet Explorer

Removing IE is really hard — disabling or hiding it is best

Two people removing slice from large, pie chart

Gary Waters / Getty Images

If you don't use Internet Explorer, don't uninstall it. Uninstalling Internet Explorer may cause your Windows computer to have problems. Even though removing Internet Explorer isn't a wise option, you can safely disable Internet Explorer and use an alternative browser to access the internet on your Windows computer.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.

Why You Can't Uninstall Internet Explorer

There are many reasons why people want to remove Internet Explorer from a Windows computer. Alternative browsers are sometimes faster, provide better security, and contain better features. However, there is no safe method to remove Internet Explorer from Windows.

Internet Explorer is more than a browser. It works as an underlying technology for a number of internal Windows processes including updating the operating system and apps, basic Windows functions, and more.

There are methods outlined on some websites that completely uninstall Internet Explorer and provide workarounds for the problems that removing it causes, but there may be too many problems and the workarounds may not work.

Instead of uninstalling Internet Explorer, disable it. You'll get all the benefits that removing Internet Explorer gives, but without the possibility of creating serious system problems. Another option is to run two browsers simultaneously on a single PC. Designate one browser the default browser but both are free to access the internet.

How to Disable Internet Explorer

Test out an alternative browser first, such as Chrome or Firefox, then follow the steps below to disable Internet Explorer in your version of Windows. Because Windows Update requires the use of Internet Explorer, manual updates will no longer be possible. Automatic updates, if enabled, should continue unaffected.

Disable Internet Explorer in Windows 10, 8, 7, and Vista

In Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista, disable Internet Explorer by turning it off in the Control Center.

These instructions will disable Internet Explorer, not remove it. Your Windows PC will continue to use Internet Explorer for internal processes.

  1. Open the Windows Start Menu.

  2. Select Settings (the gear icon).

    Gear icon in Windows Start menu
  3. In the Windows Settings, choose Apps.

    Apps in Windows Settings
  4. Select the Apps & Features tab, then select Programs and Features.

    Programs and Features in Apps & features
  5. In the Programs and Features window, select Turn Windows features on or off.

    Turn Windows features on or off
  6. In the Windows Features window, clear the Internet Explorer 11 check box.

    Internet Explorer 11 deselected checkbox
  7. In the warning dialog box, confirm that you want to disable Internet Explorer.

  8. When prompted to restart your computer for the change to take effect, select Restart now.

    Restart now button in Windows Features panel
  9. When the computer reboots, Internet Explorer is disabled.

Disable Internet Explorer in Windows XP

One way to disable Internet Explorer in Windows XP is to use the Set Program Access and Defaults utility, available as part of all Windows XP installations with at least the SP2 service pack installed.

  1. Navigate to the Control Panel. Go to Start, click Control Panel (or Settings and then Control Panel, depending on how Windows is set up on the computer).

    Control Panel in Windows XP Start menu
  2. In the Control Panel, click Add or Remove Programs.

    Add or Remove Programs in Windows XP Control Panel

    In Microsoft Windows XP, depending on how the operating system is set up, you may not see the Add or Remove Programs icon. To find this icon, click Switch to Classic View.

  3. In the Add or Remove Programs window, select Set Program Access and Defaults.

    Set Program Access and Defaults button in Add or Remove Programs dialog
  4. In the Choose a configuration section, choose Custom.

  5. In the Choose a default Web browser section, clear the Enable access to this program check box.

    Enable access to this program
  6. Select OK. Windows XP applies the changes and the Add or Remove Programs window closes automatically.