When you first use the Internet Explorer app in Windows 8.1, you may think that it is really simple and basic, without much in terms of features. You couldn't be more wrong. For example, this browser offers lots of privacy oriented features that give you control over what data is tracked about you and what is not. In this article we will share with you 8 privacy oriented settings that you can configure, in order to get the level of privacy you want. Let's get started:
Where To Find Internet Explorer's Privacy Settings
To open the Privacy settings of the Internet Explorer app, you have to first open the browser. Then, bring up the Charms and click or tap the Settings charm.
In the Settings charm, click or tap the Privacy link.
Now you can view and work with all the privacy oriented settings the Internet Explorer app has to offer.
Block Ads & All Kinds of Tracking in the Internet Explorer App
Tracking refers to data that websites collect about users to track their online behaviour, like the pages they visit, the links they click, the products they interact with, etc. This helps websites offer personalized content like ads or recommendations, but it also means that your browsing activity is being collected. This is the reason why tracking may rouse some privacy concerns and you may want to use the tracking protection provided by Internet Explorer. Also, this feature allows you to block content from websites, including ads. So yes, you can have your own ad blocker in the Internet Explorer app.
To enable Tracking Protection, you must have at least one Tracking Protection List installed. To install a Tracking Protection List, click or tap the "Add Tracking Protection Lists" link shown below.
You will be sent to the Internet Explorer Gallery website, where you can add pinned sites, add-ons and tracking protection lists to your web browser.
Here you can browse the available tracking protection lists and add them by clicking or tapping the corresponding Add button.
A confirmation box is shown, asking for permission to add the selected list to the browser. Click or tap the Add list button to continue.
The selected tracking protection list is now installed and active. After you have installed at least one tracking protection list, you can enable tracking protection using the new switch named "Block content on sites from services that could track my browsing".
Turn On Do Not Track In the Internet Explorer App
Do Not Track is enabled by default in Internet Explorer, including in the app version, unless you have set Windows 8.1 not to use the recommended settings that it has to offer.
When you set the Do Not Track switch to on, Internet Explorer will tell the websites you visit that you don't want them to track your activity. Be aware that this doesn't necessarily mean that your activity cannot be tracked. It is up to each website to choose whether they comply with your Do Not Track setting or not.
You must restart your web browser to apply a change in this option.
Block Third-Party Cookies In the Internet Explorer App
If you want to learn more about cookies, please read this article: Simple Questions: What are Cookies & What Do They Do?. It describes very well what they do and it also covers third-party cookies.
If you want to block third-party cookies in the Internet Explorer app, set the Cookies switch to On.
Block Websites From Accessing Your Location In the Internet Explorer App
Some websites ask the browser for your physical location in order to provide localized content and services. You can block this behavior by setting the Location switch to Off.
You can also click or tap the Clear button to empty the list of websites that you allowed to use your location.
A confirmation message is shown when the list has been cleared.
Enable or Disable Page Prediction In the Internet Explorer App
The Internet Explorer app has a feature that tries to predict the next page that you will visit and load in in the background, in order to serve it as fast as possible. When using this feature your history is shared with Microsoft, so that they can evaluate how well it works and how to further improve it.
If you don't want to share your history with Microsoft and you do not have an interest in this feature, set the "Flip ahead with page prediction" switch to Off.
Enable or Disable Enhanced Suggestions In the Internet Explorer App
Enhanced suggestions allow users to have quick access to relevant information as you type something in the address bar. Suggested items include search terms, websites and weather or finance information. If one of the suggestions is what you are looking for, you can simply click or tap on it to get to the information you want. These suggestions are based on Bing - Microsoft search engine - and they can be turned off if you prefer.
We have covered this feature in detail, how it works and whether you should keep it turned on or not, in this article: How to Turn On or Off Enhanced Suggestions in the Internet Explorer App.
Turn On SmartScreen In The Internet Explorer App
SmartScreen is an important security feature of Windows 8.1 which keeps you safe from dodgy websites and malware. You can learn more about it, how it works and why you should use this security feature, in this article: What is the SmartScreen Filter & How Does it Work?.
To enable this layer of protection when you browse the Internet, set the SmartScreen switch to On.
However, you should keep in mind that, in order to protect you, SmartScreen communicates with Microsoft's servers in order to verify each website that you are visiting, its safety and the files that you are downloading and whether they are malicious or not.
Turn On or Off Protected Media Playback In The Internet Explorer App
Protected media playback downloads licenses, identifiers and other data that's required to playback media content on your device that is protected by PlayReady - Microsoft's content protection technology.
We never had to use this feature even though we use legal music streaming services like Deezer. They just worked with or without this feature turned on. We are not sure how popular PlayReady is online.
Set the "Protected media playback" switch to On or Off, depending on whether you would like to use this feature or not. Keep in mind that you need to restart your computer to activate the change.
You can also delete all the protected media playback data by clicking or tapping the Delete button.
Keep in mind that protected PlayReady media that you might have played on your device, may not run properly if you delete this data and this feature is turned off.
As you can see, the Internet Explorer app in Windows 8.1 has plenty of useful privacy features. Don't hesitate to go through them and set this browser to protect your privacy the way you want to. For more useful articles about the Internet Explorer app, don't hesitate to read our recommendations below.