How to Uninstall or Remove Internet Explorer

Removing IE Is Really Hard - Disabling or Hiding It Is Best

Two men removing slice from large, pie chart
Gary Waters / Getty Images

There are all kinds of reasons to want to remove Internet Explorer from your Windows computer. Alternative browsers are sometimes faster, provide better security, and contain great features that Internet Explorer users only dream of.

Unfortunately, there is no safe method to remove Internet Explorer from Windows.

Internet Explorer is more than just a browser - it works as an underlying technology behind a number of internal Windows processes including updating, basic Windows functionality, and more.

There are methods outlined on some other websites that appear to completely uninstall Internet Explorer and provide workarounds for the problems that removing it causes, but I don't recommend them.

In my experience, removing IE causes too many problems to be worth it, even with the workarounds.

Even though removing Internet Explorer isn't a wise option, you most certainly can safely disable Internet Explorer and use your alternative browser as the one and only way to access the internet on your Windows computer.

Below are two methods that accomplish the same thing and give you nearly all the benefits that removing Internet Explorer would give you, but without the very real possibility of creating serious system problems.

It is also perfectly acceptable to run two browsers simultaneously on a single PC. One browser must be designated as the default browser but both are free to access the internet.

How to Disable Internet Explorer

Test out an alternative browser first, like Chrome or Firefox, and then follow the easy steps below to disable Internet Explorer in your version of Windows.

Since Windows Update requires the use of Internet Explorer, manual updates will no longer be possible. Automatic updates, if enabled, should continue unaffected.

Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista use the Turn Windows features on or off tool to disable Internet Explorer. Instructions for Windows XP are below these.

Please remember - even though you are disabling Internet Explorer, you are not actually removing it. Your Windows PC still uses Internet Explorer for a number of internal processes.

  1. Open the Windows Start Menu.

  2. Select the Gear Icon from the far left of the menu to open your Settings.

    Gear icon in Windows Start menu
  3. The Windows Settings will open up. Choose Apps.

    Apps in Windows Settings
  4. Make sure that Apps & Features is the active tab and your window is wide enough to see the right panel. Then, select Programs and Features.

    Programs and Features in Apps & features
  5. The Uninstall or change a program window will open up. Locate Turn Windows features on or off to the left side of the window, and select it.

    Turn Windows features on or off
  6. Windows will open yet another window. This one will contain a list of Windows features available on your system. Find Internet Explorer 11, and deselect it.

    Internet Explorer 11 deselected checkbox
  7. You'll receive a warning stating that some things may not function normally with IE11 disabled. Confirm that you still want it disabled.

  8. Finally, Windows will ask you to restart your computer for the change to take effect. Restart, and when your computer reboots, Internet Explorer will be disabled.

    Restart now button in Windows Features panel

Windows XP

One way of disabling Internet Explorer in Windows XP is by using 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 by pressing Start, followed by Control Panel (or Settings and then Control Panel, depending on how you're setup).

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

    Add or Remove Programs in Windows XP Control Panel

    In Microsoft Windows XP, depending on how your operating system is setup, you may not see the Add or Remove Programs icon. To correct this, click on the link on the left-hand side of the Control Panel window that says Switch to Classic View.

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

    Set Program Access and Defaults button in Add or Remove Programs dialog
  4. Choose the Custom option in the Choose a configuration: area.

  5. In the Choose a default Web browser: area, uncheck the Enable access to this program check box next to Internet Explorer.

    Enable access to this program
  6. Press OK. Windows XP will apply your changes and the Add or Remove Programs window will close automatically.