How to Browse the Web With the Internet Explorer 11 App in Windows 8.1

Browsing the web on a touchscreen device can be really painful if you are using a desktop browser. That's why, in Windows 8.1 you have a whole new browser, designed for touch, which provides a great experience for users of tablets and hybrid devices. The touch version of Internet Explorer is awesome and we love using it on our touch devices. To help you get started, here's a quick overview on how to use it to browse the web.

Basic Navigation Elements in the Internet Explorer 11 App

Opening the Internet Explorer app for the first time may seem a bit confusing because the user interface is totally new.
If you don't know how to open the Internet Explorer app, please read the How to Start Both Versions of Internet Explorer in Windows 8.1 section in this article.
When you start Internet Explorer, it opens its homepage. The default homepage is Bing and it looks really good in this version of the browser.

The first thing you'll notice is that the taskbar, usually located at the top of the window, is found on the bottom. This makes it easier to reach when you hold your tablet with both hands.

In Windows 8.1 Update, the address bar and the tabs are visible in the Internet Explorer 11 window. However, you can set them to autohide, with the help of the Settings charm but that will be covered in a separate tutorial.

You can either type the address of a website or search for something. The good thing is that the address bar can do both.

To help users get to where they need to go faster, it offers suggestions as you type.

Once you get to the website you want to visit you can interact with elements like pictures, text selections, URLs, etc. In order to interact with them you should press and hold (or right-click) on the elements you want to interact with. A contextual menu is shown with options that are relevant to the item you interact with. Please keep in mind that the options available are different from item to item.

In the screenshot above we have interacted with a picture that was embedded in a web page. The contextual menu gave us access to the following options:

  • Copy - allows you to copy the item you selected. It can be an image or a text selection.
  • Copy link - allows you to copy the link to the selected item.
  • Open link in new tab - the selected link is opened in a new tab, in the same Internet Explorer window.
  • Open link in new window - a new Internet Explorer window is opened, taking you to the selected link.
  • Open link - the selected link is opened in the current tab.
  • Save to pictures folder - the selected picture is saved in the Pictures library.

To help you navigate faster, you have useful buttons like Back (takes you to the previous page), Forward (takes you to the next page, if you used the Back button previously) and Refresh (reloads the current page).

In a device with touch, you can navigate backwards by swiping from the left side of the screen to the right. To navigate forward, swipe from the right to the left. There's a catch though regarding touch gestures in Internet Explorer: you need to swipe inside the Internet Explorer window and not from the screen bezel because you will trigger Windows 8.1 touch commands like bringing up the Charms.

How to Manage Opened Tabs in Internet Explorer 11

To open a new tab, press the + button above the address bar, on the right hand side of the current tab. Enter the address of the website you want to visit and press Go.

To open the tabs menu, you have to press the Tabs button.

Here you can see the thumbnails of the pages opened in your tabs. To close one of the opened tabs, press the little X in the bottom right corner of the thumbnail.

If you tap and hold one of the opened tabs (or right click on them), a contextual menu is shown, allowing you to do one of the following actions:

  • "Open tab in new window" - opens the page in another Internet Explorer window and will split the screen so that you have two or more pages opened at the same time.
  • "Close other tabs" - will close other tabs and leave open the one you selected.
  • "Duplicate tab" - a new tab opens, loading the same web page as in the selected tab.

You can also open a new tab by clicking or tapping the New tab button highlighted below.

For more tab-related options, press the Tab tools button on the right side of the Tabs list. It will give you access to options like New InPrivate tab - which opens a new tab for which Internet Explorer won't store any cookies, history, etc - or Reopen closed tab - which reopens the last tab you have closed.

How to Access Your Favorites in Internet Explorer

The little star button on the bottom of the screen, is the Favorites button and it opens your list of favorite web pages.

Here you can add, delete and manage the pages you have bookmarked. If you press on any of your favorites, that page is loaded in the current tab.

We will cover everything you need to know about managing your favorite websites in a future tutorial.

The Tools That Are Available in Internet Explorer

The Page tools button opens a menu where you will find useful tools to complete your browsing experience.

The options available are the following:

  • "Get app for this site" - If the website you are visiting has an associated app in the Windows Store, this option is enabled and you can use it to quickly access that website's app.
  • "Find on page" - Search for keywords in the current web page.
  • "Report website problems" - Allows you to report to Microsoft sites that you consider harmful.
  • "View in the desktop" - Opens the current page in the desktop version of Internet Explorer.
  • "View downloads" - Opens the downloads list, where you can manage all the files that were downloaded using the Internet Explorer app.
  • "Options" - Opens the Options menu that allows you can set how the touch version of Internet Explorer works.


Using the Internet Explorer 11 app in Windows 8.1 is rather straightforward but you may need some time to get used to its interface. If you read this tutorial and you experiment using the information we have given you, you should have no problems in getting acquainted with it and you will start using it productively.