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Get IT Done: Give Internet Explorer the look and feel of a company tool

Customize Internet Explorer

Have you ever wished that you could easily make Internet Explorer appear more like a company-oriented tool? If you could give Internet Explorer the look and feel of company business tool, it might help remind users that they are at work and make them less apt to waste lots of time surfing the Internet for non-work-related subjects. If you're supporting Windows XP Professional, you can do that from within the operating system with the Group Policy Editor.

You can use the Group Policy Editor to alter Internet Explorer's title bar, and animated logo, giving Internet Explorer the look and feel of a company business tool. Here's how to do it and how you go about creating a customized animated logo.

An Internet Usage Policy
As you read this article, keep in mind that making Internet Explorer look and feel like a company business tool might not be enough to deter employees surfing the Internet for non-work-related subjects. However, it is a good companion to a solid Internet Usage Policy. If you don’t yet have an Internet Usage Policy in place, you can find several example policies in the Downloads section: Sample e-mail usage policies and a sample Internet Usage Policy.

Getting started
As I mentioned, you’ll make these alterations from within Windows XP Professional’s Group Policy Editor. Of course, in order to do so, you must be logging on to the system with an account that has Administrator privileges. To begin, you’ll launch the Group Policy Editor by accessing the Run dialog box and typing Gpedit.msc in the Open text box and clicking OK.

Once the Group Policy Editor appears, you’ll open the User Configuration branch and drill down to Windows Settings | Internet Explorer Maintenance | Browser User Interface. When you access the Browser User Interface folder, you’ll see three settings titled Browser Title, Custom Logo, and Browser Toolbar Customizations, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
The Browser User Interface folder


Customizing the title bar
To customize Internet Explorer’s title bar, just click on the Browser Title setting. When you see the Browser Title dialog box, all you need to do is select the Customize Title Bars check box. Then, to give the browser the look of a company tool, type your company name in the text box, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B
Type your company name in the text box.


As you can see, I’ve surrounded my company name with additional symbols—minus signs and an equal sign. These additional symbols will make the company name stand out on the title bar.

To complete the operation, click OK. Now, when you launch Internet Explorer, you’ll see your company name in the title bar of Internet Explorer’s window, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C
Your company name will display in Internet Explorer’s title bar.


As you can see, the Browser Title setting simply adds the words provided by and then the company name to the existing Microsoft Internet Explorer title. Additional symbols help draw attention to your company name in the new title bar.

Customizing the logo
To customize Internet Explorer’s logo, just click on the Custom Logo setting in the Browser User Interface folder. When you see the Custom Logo dialog box, as shown in Figure D, you’ll discover that there are actually two settings for the Internet Explorer logo—static and animated. As you can guess, the static logo will appear when no action is taking place and the animated logo will appear when the browser is in use.

Figure D
You’ll use the Custom Logo dialog box to enable your customized logos in Internet Explorer.


You’ll also notice that there are two sizes—22 x 22 and 38 x 38. The reason that Internet Explorer requires two different sized logos is that the size of the logo changes depending on whether you’re using text labels on your Internet Explorer toolbar. If you’re using the text labels, Internet Explorer uses the larger logo. If you aren’t, Internet Explorer uses the small logo.

Now, keep in mind that if you specify a custom static logo and not a custom animated logo, Internet Explorer will still use the default animated logo. However, if you specify a custom animated logo and not a custom static logo, Internet Explorer will use the first image in the animated logo for the static state.

To enable your custom logos, simply select the check box and then use the Browse button to locate your image file. Then click OK.

Creating custom logos
To create a custom logo, you’ll use Paint and save the file using either the 16-color bitmap or 256-color bitmap file type. If you’re using a static logo, you’ll create two images—one at 22 x 22 pixels and one at 38 x 38 pixels.

However, if you’re creating an animated logo, you’ll need to create a series of images in each size where each image differs slightly from the previous one. You’ll then combine the images together so they look like a film strip, and together they show the progression of the animation

For example, to create my GCS Consulting animated logo, I created 12 images and placed them together in one file, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E
To create my GCS Consulting animated logo, I combined 12 images into one file.


Again, the idea is that the presence of the company logo in the browser will reinforce the idea that the user is working with a company tool and is on company time.

Other toolbar customizations
The last setting in the Browser User Interface folder is the Browser Toolbar Customizations setting. As you can guess, this setting will allow you to customize the toolbar’s background image. While this might be a nice way to spruce up the look of Internet Explorer, it really doesn’t come into play when trying to make Internet Explorer look and feel like a company tool. In fact, it usually has the opposite effect. I recommend that you leave the toolbar background as it is.

The Browser Toolbar Customizations setting also allows you to add custom buttons to the toolbar. Again, this really has no bearing on making Internet Explorer look and feel like a company tool.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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