I generally feel nothing but antipathy toward Internet Explorer so when it freezes and displays that stupid little “Internet Explorer has stopped working” error it vexes me like nothing else. I find the “Windows is checking for a solution to the problem…” sub-message obnoxious and sardonic.
Because we all know Windows isn’t checking for anything; that’s just a message Microsoft’s coders threw in to make you think Windows is actually doing something for you. In most cases, it’s just a waste of time. I usually impetuously click Cancel before Microsoft devises it’s false plan of redemption.
If your browser is feeling indolent but doesn’t completely freeze up, you might want to see the article I wrote about speeding up Internet Explorer; however, if IE keeps crashing on you with these silly stopped working messages then read on for the fix.
The number one thing to do is stay cool, stay composed, maintain equanimity. Don’t throw a temper tantrum or brandish your laptop like a weapon or threaten to chuck it out the window instead… relax, take a breath and tell yourself: I can fix this, I’ve got this. Let’s go.
After you’ve done that, you’re heart rate should return to it’s resting state. Now you’re ready to tackle this problem.
Help! I broke Internet Explorer!
1. If Internet Explorer is still holding on for dear life, completely kill the process so you can ensure it’s totally closed. You can press Shift + Control + Esc to launch the task manager then find, iexplore.exe and click the End Task button.
2. Now that you’ve kicked the Internet Explorer process into oblivion, click Start and type:
Depending on your geek factor the Internet Properties window is somewhere between obscure and familiar.
3. Click the last tab along the top row called Advanced and click the Reset… button near the bottom of the window.
A dialog box zips on the screen with a bold font warning that’s scary enough to send most computer neophytes running for the nearest Geek Squad
But let’s think about this: what are we really about to do?
Yes, resetting Internet Explorer will revert IE to its embryonic state. IE will become an amnesiac and will basically function the way it did the first time you used it.
But this is good because the reset will expunge all your privacy and browser settings. Your browser will feel lighter, happier and won’t moan about shutting down anymore.
4. Trust, me you want to click Reset. If it blows up your computer, leave me a note in the comments and I might buy you a new one (using your money of-course).
But alas, I digress.
That’s all there is to it. This should obviate those inane stopped working messages. The above solution will fix 99.99% of the problems; however, if your computer is royally flubbed (that’s my technical term for goobered) then you’ll have to bring out the big guns: msconfig
MSCONFIG to the rescue
Click Start and enter this:
Under Selective Startup Uncheck Load Startup Items
Next, click the Services tab and put a check mark in the Hide all Microsoft Services box.
Finally, choose Disable all, click OK and restart the computer.
We just turned off all non-essential services; only the core Microsoft services will remain after we restart the computer. Our goal is to give Internet Explorer a trial run without any superfluous programs so we can zero in on the service that’s debilitating your browser.
If you don’t get the error after rebooting and opening IE then we know the culprit is hiding in that list of msconfig services we just disabled.
Divide and Conquer
Now it’s just a game of divide and conquer.
Go back to the msconfig Services tab, make sure Hide all Microsoft services is still checked and then check only the top half of the services boxes. Click OK, reboot and launch Internet Explorer again.
Is it still working normally? No crashes? Then we know our sinister service is furtively staying out of the spotlight somewhere in that list of unchecked (disabled) Services.
Leave the top half of the service boxes enabled but this time enable the bottom half too. Click OK and reboot.
Keep playing this enable-half-click-OK-reboot-dance until you can hone in on the faulty service. Once you find it you can leave it unchecked or uninstall it by noting the Manufacturer column in the Services tab and removing it by clicking Start and typing:
programs and features
The Bottom Line
Internet Explorer isn’t the best browser in the world; okay fine I’m being too sanguine. Let me rephrase: Internet Explorer isn’t the worst browser in the world but when it crashes you can sometimes feel like your world came crashing down too.
Let’s face it: no one wants to stare at an annoying error box. It sucks. But by resetting your browser or fiddling with msconfig you can win the day.
The next time your friend, co-worker or creepy uncle’s Internet Explorer dies you can triumphantly stand over his computer with his laptop over your head and shout! I can fix this, I’ve got this. Let’s go