How to Use ActiveX Filtering in Internet Explorer 11

ActiveX isn't the safest technology used on the internet

Woman browsing internet on laptop

RawPixel / pxhere

Microsoft Edge is the default browser for Windows 10, but if you run apps that need ActiveX, you should use Internet Explorer 11 instead. Internet Explorer 11 used to come with Windows 10 systems, but if you don't have it, you can download it from Microsoft.

This tutorial is only intended for users running the IE11 Web browser on Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 7.

IE11 Safety Menu

The goal of ActiveX technology is to simplify playback of rich media including videos, animations, and other file types. Because of this, you'll find ActiveX controls embedded into some of your favorite websites.

The downside of ActiveX is that it is not the safest technology around. These inherent security risks are the main reason for IE11's ActiveX Filtering feature, which offers the ability to allow ActiveX controls to run on only the sites that you trust.

How to Use ActiveX Filtering

To use ActiveX Filtering to your advantage, open your Internet Explorer 11 browser and apply the following settings.

  1. Click on the Gear icon, located in the upper-right corner of your browser window.

    Screenshot of Settings menu in Internet Explorer 11
  2. Select Safety in the drop-down menu.

    Screenshot of Safety in IE 11 menu
  3. When the sub-menu appears, locate the option labeled ActiveX Filtering. If there is a checkmark next to the name, then ActiveX Filtering is already enabled. If not, select the option to enable it.

    Screenshot of ActiveX Filtering in Safety menu in IE 11

Turn off ActiveX Filtering for Individual Sites

You can enable ActiveX filtering in Internet Explorer but disable it for specific websites.

  1. Go to the site you want to allow ActiveX controls to run on using the Internet Explorer web browser.

  2. Select the Blocked button on the address bar.

    If no Blocked button appears in the address bar, no ActiveX content is available on that page.

    Screenshot of Blocked icon in IE address bar
  3. Select Turn off ActiveX Filtering.

    Screenshot of Turn Off ActiveX Filtering

Turn off ActiveX Filtering for All Sites

You can disable ActiveX filtering in Internet Explorer at any time.

  1. Open Internet Explorer and select the Tools button, which looks like a gear icon in the upper-right corner.

    Screenshot of Tools menu in IE
  2. Point to Safety in the drop-down menu.

    Screenshot of Safety in Tools menu
  3. Select ActiveX Filtering to remove the checkmark, which will disable ActiveX Filtering.

Adjust ActiveX Settings in Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer provides advanced settings that let you customize ActiveX controls.

Changing some advanced security could make your computer more vulnerable to security threats. Only change advanced ActiveX settings if you are confident about increasing these risks.

  1. Select the Gear icon, located in the upper-right corner of your browser window.

  2. Select Internet Options. The Internet Options dialog box will open.

    Screenshot of Internet Options in IE Tools menu
  3. Go to the Security tab and select Custom Level.

    Screenshot of Custom Level on Security tab of Internet Options
  4. Under ActiveX controls and plug-ins, select Enable to choose one the following:

    • Allow Automatic prompting for ActiveX controls.
    • Allow Internet Explorer to Display video and animation on a webpage that doesn't use external media player.
    • Allow Internet Explorer to Download signed ActiveX controls (select Prompt if you want to be notified each time this happens).
    • Allow Internet Explorer to Run ActiveX controls and plug-ins (select Prompt if you want to be notified each time this happens).
    • Allow Internet Explorer to Script ActiveX controls marked safe for scripting (select Prompt if you want to be notified each time this happens).
    Screenshot of ActiveX controls in Internet Options
  5. Select OK to apply the changes and then select OK again to close Internet Options.