Browser Extensions Overviews and Tutorials

The following overview and tutorial articles are available for browser extensions.


Topic Contents
About Browser Extensions

Browser extensions allow developers to provide easy access to their browser enhancements by adding elements (like an Explorer Bar) to the default user interface. Introduced in Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0, this feature enables developers to create Explorer Bars and add entries into the standard context menus. Beginning with Microsoft Internet Explorer 5, this feature allows developers to add entries into the Tools menu and buttons to the toolbar.

About the Browser

This section explains the architecture of Internet Explorer 4.0 and later and provides information you will find helpful when reusing these components.

Adding Entries to the Standard Context Menu

This tutorial explains how to add an entry into the standard context menus in Windows Internet Explorer that executes a script specified by a URL.

Adding Explorer Bars

This tutorial explains how to add an Explorer Bar in Internet Explorer.

Adding Menu Items

This tutorial explains how to add a menu item that runs a Windows application or that runs a script to the Tools menu or Help menu in Internet Explorer.

Adding Toolbar Buttons

This tutorial explains how to add a toolbar button to the Internet Explorer user interface.

Browser Extensions

Browser extensions, introduced in Internet Explorer 5, allow developers to add functionality to the browser and enhance the user interface in a way that is not directly related to the viewable content of Web pages. This class of extensibility includes add-on functionality that users might install to enhance their browsing experience.

Content Extensions

This category of extension is invoked specifically by Internet Explorer content. It includes Microsoft ActiveX controls, binary behaviors, and Active documents.

Customizing the Browser Toolbar

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

Explorer Bar Style Guide

This guide will help you design Explorer Bars to add to the Internet Explorer user interface.

Implementing a Custom Download Manager

The ability to implement a custom download manager was introduced in Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5. This feature enables you to extend the functionality of Internet Explorer and WebBrowser applications by implementing a Component Object Model (COM) object to handle the file download process.

Installing a Search Provider and Setting the Default

Windows Internet Explorer 8 extends a rich searching experience by offering users the option to install multiple search providers. As a user installs search providers, each provider has a chance to set itself as the default provider. Internet Explorer 8 has a new mandatory Search Provider Default user experience that keeps the user in control of their preferred search provider.

Search Provider Extensibility in Internet Explorer

Starting with Windows Internet Explorer 7, the Instant Search box provides an AutoComplete feature so users can search for similar search terms used in previous searches. Internet Explorer 7 also enables users to add multiple search providers. Search improvements in Internet Explorer 8 focus on helping users search by significantly improving the Instant Search box drop-down menu and supporting search suggestions.

Toolbar Button Style Guide

This guide will help you design icons for toolbar buttons that you add to the Internet Explorer user interface.

Web Accessories

Web Accessories are browser enhancements that any developer can create using browser extensions. Users can then add these Web Accessories to their copy of Internet Explorer. By creating Web Accessories, developers have a very powerful way to enable new features and functionality.

Writing Stable Browser Extensions

The stability of Internet Explorer is adversely affected by poorly implemented extensions such as Browser Helper Objects (BHOs), toolbars, or ActiveX controls. This article summarizes important guidelines developers should follow when creating COM extensions to customize the browser and provides tips and best practices for well-behaved browser extensions that do not cause Internet Explorer to crash or become unresponsive ("hang").

XML Search Suggestions Format Specification

Internet Explorer 8 search suggestions are a service that search providers can support which allow the user to receive suggestions for a search query. XML suggestions from a search provider can support text suggestions or visual suggestions.

Other Resources

Browser Helper Objects: The Browser the Way You Want It

Building Browser Helper Objects with Visual Studio 2005