Customizing the Browser Toolbar

This tutorial explains how to customize the appearance of the toolbar area in Windows Internet Explorer.

  • Requirements and Dependencies
  • General Steps
  • Design Guidelines
  • Related topics

Requirements and Dependencies

Developers who wish to customize the appearance of the toolbar in Internet Explorer must be familiar with the registry.

This feature is only available in Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.

General Steps

Follow the steps in this section to customize the appearance of the toolbar in Internet Explorer.

  1. Create a background bitmap using a graphics program according to the Design Guidelines in the next section.

  2. Decide where you want this image to reside on the hard disk.

  3. Create a string value, BackBitmapIE5, in the registry under:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Toolbar

    The result should look like:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Toolbar\BackBitmapIE5

    The value of BackBitmapIE5 should be set to the path of the background bitmap on the user's computer.

  4. Copy the image to the proper location on the user's computer.

Both setting the registry and copying files can be accomplished by using an .inf file with Internet Component Download. For more information on .inf files, see Using INF Files in the Internet Component Download documentation.

Design Guidelines

The default toolbar background can be replaced with any bitmap that you design. This bitmap is displayed as a backdrop for all of the toolbars and the menu bar. The background should be the size of the toolbar and light enough in color to show black text. You should test the background that you create in all possible monitor resolutions up to 1,600x1,200 and with all configurations of the Internet Explorer toolbar. That is, try hiding and adding the radio bar, Links bar, Address bar, and so on, to make sure your bitmap still looks professional.

Internet Explorer will automatically tile the image you provide if it is not large enough for the whole toolbar area. However, do not make the bitmap too small (for example, smaller than 10 pixels by 10 pixels). Doing so will significantly reduce the performance of Internet Explorer.


About Browser Extensions

Toolbar Button Style Guide

Web Accessories

Adding Toolbar Buttons