the whole shebang

November 6, 2006

Run multiple Internet Explorer versions on 1 computer!

Filed under: Software,Website Design/CSS,Windows — wholeshebang @ 2:31 am

While reading through an HTML tips book, I came across this bit of information: it is possible to run multiple versions of Internet Explorer on one computer due to some glitch or other. Of course, I bulldozed ahead and downloaded an old, full version of IE off the BrowserArchives without doing some checking, and the installer warned be that IE was already installed.

I did some reasearch on the web. No, you cannot use an installer for a full-blown Internet Explorer where the multiple versions will be integrated with the operating system. The solution, detailed on Joe Maddalone’s webdesign blog, involves the directly uncompressing the files and then deleting many of them. (The archived files are available at the Browser Archives, so if you want to do this manually, just download them and follow Joe’s instructions .)

Next, however, Ryan Parman, on his blog, made available the packages after modification, so one can just unzip them and be done with it. He pulled the files down after a time, but a) the posts are invaluable, especially if you want to understand a few key situations under which the standalone browsers may call on features of the current one, and b)‘s maintainer had copied Ryan’s files before they went down, and he still hosts them.

However you do it, make sure you keep the “standalone” IE files separate from your regular 6.0 or 7.0 install. Also, whether you follow Joe’s manual method or use Ryan’s completed zips, some people have found that even with Ryan’s completed zip files, it still helped to rename 2 more files for the 5.01 IE (see this comment). You may or may not need to do this, depending on your how your system is patched and when the last update to Ryan’s zip files were.

Reminder: has the full-install browsers, as well as the standalone files, zipped, before any deleting and renaming of files. has the last of Ryan’s already-modified zips, so that’s probably what you want to use.

1st Note: Using the Favorites menu with the standalone versions will cause your browser to crash. You shouldn’t use old versions of IE to surf the web in the first place, as using old, unpatched IE is not safe…website developers are only doing this as a means to test how their pages work in old browsers so they know how other people will see their websites.

2nd Note: The “Help > About” menu will always display the IE version stored in the Registry, which is connected to the current fully-installed IE, so don’t expect it to display the correct version based on the ie version you are viewing your page in. If you find you often forget which version you are using, you can save this command in webpage called “browserTest.html” (sorry for being such a dufus, I originally posted you could use the straight JavaScript by itself) on your computer where it’s easy to find, and set it as your home page in all the standalones so you can get to it with one click…it will correctly detect your browser version if you have JavaScript turned on:

<head><title>Test Your Browser Version</title>
<script type=”text/javascript” language=”JavaScript”><!–
function browserTest() {
<body onload=”browserTest();”>
<h1>Test Your Browser Version</h1>
<p>If this script works, a popup alert will tell you what browser and version is viewing this page. If it doesn’t work, either you have JavaScript blocked or this script is not working properly.</p>

3rd Note: There are problems with the address bar when you run standalone IEs like this, so use “File > Open” and type the address there instead of a page you want to view.

4th Note: To make it easy to open the IE version you want, make a shortcut to the “iexplore.exe” of each version’s folder or your desktop (make sure you name the shortcuts so you can tell which is which). If you choose the icon that’s in your Start Menu, that is your current, fully-installed IE, not the standalones.

So, to recap:

I will post back with my own experience. I’m running Windows XP Pro SP2 with currently-installed Internet Explorer 6.0.



  1. My results so far:
    The Internet Explorer versions are correctly displayed…
    …except for IE 3 because for some reason it just doesn’t run the JavaScript (and doesn’t prompt me for it).

    IE 5.5 loaded fine the first time I opened it, but crashes thereafter. I’ll try the rename techniques and see if they help.

    It really doesn’t matter about the script not running in IE 3 — the IE interface is so ugly, believe me, you’ll know you’re using it!

    A note, to make the programs easy to find again (should I lose my shortcuts for some reason), I created a new folder in “C:\Program Files” called “IE Old Versions”, then I unzipped these standalone IEs there (the zips will create their own folders, so you don’t have to create a folder for each one). Just use Windows Explorer to go to each standalone folder. Starting with IE 3, use drag-and-drop with the right mouse button to drag the “iexplore.exe” icons to the desktop, then choose “Create shortcut here”. Next, right-click the shortcut and select “Rename”, rename it “IE 3”. Follow the same procedure to create a shortcut for each versions iexplore.exe and rename the shortcuts “IE 4.01”, “IE 5.01”, and “IE 5.5”, respectively. So now I can access each IE standalone via either these shortcuts on my desktop or via Windows Explorer.

    Comment by wholeshebang — November 6, 2006 @ 3:45 am | Reply

  2. I tried renaming these files as follows, but it didn’t work:
    “iexplore.exe” > “iexplore55.exe”
    “iexplore.exe.local” 7gt; “iexplore55.exe.local”
    That’s what another person did (except with 5.01) to solve a problem on their computer, but their problem didn’t involve a crash, either. The only differnce this made was that before the crash, I got a warning that the program would run in compatibility mode.
    So, I’m changing the filenames back. Maybe someone has a solution to the crash problem, but hey, how can I complain? I can still run 4 versions of Internet Explorer on the same computer!!!

    [Edit:] It doesn’t always crash, and after a few system restarts, it seems not to be crashing again. (And no, this is no relation to the Address Bar.)
    Note on 3.1: While the fact that using the address bar can crash these standalone IEs is well-known, 3.1 has additional screwy behavior. Opening a file often doesn’t seem to work, but I have figured out the solution. After you click “Open > File” and then the “Browse” button, you cannot simply open a file from wherever it ends up dumping you. Start with the drop-down list and select the correct drive/partition/directory (what’s there depends on your computer’s setup). Then double-click the top folder and on thorugh each successive folder, up to and including the file you actually need. You must start with the top folder even if you are dumped into the correct folder by default!. I don’t know why this is, but it’s true.

    Comment by wholeshebang — November 6, 2006 @ 3:52 am | Reply

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