Pro tip: Modify Internet Explorer 11's display in Windows 8.1

If you miss the address bar and tabs in the modern UI version of Internet Explorer, learn about a setting in IE11 that will give you the display you want.



While having Internet Explorer use the entire screen in the modern UI is a really nice feature, there are times when I would like to see the address bar and the tabs while surfing the web. I was reminded of this wish after using Chrome 32. When you select Relaunch Chrome In Windows 8 Mode, Chrome 32 transforms itself into a Windows 8 app, yet retains its desktop screen layout including the address bar and open tabs.

Since I regularly go back and forth between Internet Explorer 11 and Chrome 32, I started to think about the hidden tabs and address bar more. While investigating Internet Explorer 11's settings, I stumbled across the option that I wanted right there under Appearance: Always Show Address Bar And Tabs. Let's take a closer look.

Access the settings

When you have Internet Explorer 11 running in the modern UI, move your mouse pointer to the upper right corner to display the Charms bar and select Settings (Figure A).

Figure A



Access the Charms bar and select the Settings charm.

When you see the Settings bar, select Options (Figure B).

Figure B



From the Settings bar, select Options.

When you see Internet Explorer's Options bar, locate the Appearance section and click the Always Show Address Bar And Tabs to turn it to On (Figure C).

Figure C



Click Always Show Address Bar And Tabs.

Use the condensed Tabs bar

As soon as you turn on the Always Show Address Bar And Tabs, you'll see a condensed version of the Tabs bar (Figure D). Instead of using tiles, this condensed version uses a more tab-like display.  Having the Tabs bar always on the screen makes it much quicker to move between tabs when you're researching a topic on multiple tabs. (Microsoft claims you can have up to 100 tabs open in one window, but I haven't put that to the test yet. Have you?)

Figure D



When Always Show Address Bar And Tabs is enabled, you'll see a condensed version of the tabs bar.

The New tab and the Tabs tools buttons are positioned directly adjacent to the tabs for easy access. Just like in the full Tabs bar, you have access to the full address bar as well as the adjacent buttons: Refresh, Tabs, Favorites, and Page, which all work the same as before. In fact, when you click the Tabs button, the Tabs bar temporarily returns to its prior state, with tiles (Figure E).

Figure E



Clicking the Tabs button, temporarily returns the tabs bar to its prior state.

New Search and Suggestions feature

Another nice thing about having the Tabs bar visible all the time is that it makes it easy to take advantage of the new Search and Suggestions feature. To use this feature, type a keyword in the Address bar, and you'll see suggestions from Microsoft and have access to other features. For example, you can get search suggestions, webpage suggestions within suggested domains, domain suggestions, and matching webpages that you've visited before — drawn from Favorites, Pinned sites, and History. As you can see in Figure F, I typed in the term Message, and received a list of possible options related to that term.

Figure F



The new Search and Suggestions feature is a handy tool.

Switch back to full screen

You can switch back to Internet Explorer's full screen view at any time by accessing the Options bar and disabling Always Show Address Bar And Tabs.

What's your take?

Do you miss the address bar and tabs in the modern UI version of Internet Explorer? If so, will you enable Always Show Address Bar And Tabs? What do you think of the new Search and Suggestions feature?

If you have comments or information to share about this topic, please drop by the TechRepublic  forums and let us hear from you.



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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