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Protect yourself when you use ActiveX controls

Protect yourself when you use ActiveX controls

ActiveX controls are small programs, sometimes also called "add-ons," that are used on the Internet. They can enhance your browsing experience by allowing animation or they can help with tasks such as installing security updates at Microsoft Update.

Some websites require you to install ActiveX controls to see the site or perform certain tasks on it. When you visit such a site, Internet Explorer asks if you want to install the ActiveX control.

The website that provides the ActiveX control should tell you what the control is for. It should also provide relevant details on the web page before or after you see the warning. Internet Explorer blocks websites from using an ActiveX control on your computer if the website tries to use the ActiveX control in a way that might not be safe.

What are the risks?

Unfortunately, ActiveX controls are like any other software program—they can be misused. They can stop your computer from functioning correctly, collect your browsing habits and personal information without your knowledge, or can give you content, like pop-up ads that you don't want. Also, "good" ActiveX controls might contain unintended code that allows "bad" websites to use them for malicious purposes.

Given these risks, you should only install ActiveX controls if you have information about the website that offers the control and the publisher that created the control. With this information you should then decide if you're willing to trust your personal information to the website and to the publisher. For more information about how to decide if you trust a website, see Email and web scams: How to help protect yourself.

Here's a good rule to follow: If an ActiveX control is not essential to your computer activity, avoid installing it.

What should I do if I don't want to install an ActiveX Control?

When you choose to install an ActiveX control, Internet Explorer displays a dialog box that identifies the publisher and asks if you want to run the file. Click Don't run if you do not trust the website and publisher.

You can only delete ActiveX controls that you have downloaded and installed. You can't delete ActiveX controls that were preinstalled or add-ons of any kind, but you can disable them. To delete an ActiveX control that you have installed, use the Manage add-ons tool in Internet Explorer. If the add-on cannot be removed within Manage Add-ons, you might be able to uninstall it through Control Panel.

To delete ActiveX controls you have installed

  1. Open Internet Explorer by clicking the Start button Start button. In the search box, type Internet Explorer, and then, in the list of results, click Internet Explorer.

  2. Click the Tools button, and then click Manage Add-ons.

  3. Under Show, click Downloaded controls to display all ActiveX controls.

  4. Click the ActiveX control you want to delete, and then click More information.

  5. In the More Information dialog box, click Remove. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for every control you want to delete. When you are finished, click Close.

For more information, see:

Should I install ActiveX Controls?

Internet Explorer Add-ons: Frequently asked questions

How to remove an ActiveX control in Windows