Problem With Internet Explorer? Maybe You Need Fewer Bits


A large number of PCs nowadays are shipped with a 64-bit version of Windows.  If your computer came with Windows 7 or 8, and has more than 4 GB of RAM, chances are that you're running a 64-bit OS.  The main reason for the switch is that 32-bit operating systems can only access around 4 GB of memory, so if your machine has more than that you'll need 64 bits in order to make use of it.

Almost all software nowadays will work perfectly well on either type of OS.  If the software is specifically made for 32-bit Windows, which most of it still is, it'll also work just fine on 64-bit.  There are some exceptions, and some particularly powerful software that is only available for 64-bit Windows, but these are few and far between.  

So if you start using 64-bit Windows, chances are that you won't have many problems.

Unless, that is, you try to access web sites that don't like 64-bit browsers.  And, it seems, there are quite a few sites which fall into this category.  Especially if you access them via Internet Explorer.

Many web sites, or web-based online systems, use additional software in the form of ActiveX controls.  They only work in IE, and they don't always run properly in 64-bit IE.  One common example is internet-based cameras, where you need to download some additional viewer software into your browser.  Online games are another common example.  The additional ActiveX utility won't download, because it doesn't like 64-bit browsers.

Microsoft, unfortunately, does little to help.  When you click the Internet Explorer icon on your desktop, you get to run the 64-bit version of IE (assuming you're using 64-bit Windows).  Although you also get 32-bit IE installed as standard, there's no obvious way to launch it.

So here's how to do it.

First, find the IE shortcut on your desktop.  Copy and paste it, so you have an additional shortcut.  Right-click on the new shortcut, choose Properties, and you should see that the shortcut points to c:\program files\internet explorer\iexplore.exe.  This is the program that launches 64-bit IE.

Edit the property (don't worry, this is a copy shortcut so you can just delete it if it doesn't work).  Change Program Files to Program Files (x86).  You're now pointing your shortcut at the 32-bit IE launcher, which is in the Program Files (x86) folder.  

Save your new shortcut and try it.  Chances are, you won't notice any difference, and IE will still run.  But you're now running a 32-bit browser, which should prove less of a problem with certain sites.



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I just tried this tip. I am running Windows 7 with IE 11.0.9600.17126. When I checked TASK ADMIN the first time it showed only entries with the name of iexplore.exe. I changed PROGRAM FILES to PROGRAM FILES (x86) and the task manager still shows only entires with the name iexplore.exe. IE still seems like it is running just fine so far, but I do not see any entries in TASK MANAGER showing iexplore.exe*32. Don't know if this helps or just confuses the matter.

Look I think there is a mistake here.

Anytime IE loads, it loads both 32 and 64. IEXPLORE.EXE and IEXPLORE.EXE*32, just need to look at what's running on your PC with the TASK ADMIN.

So I do not understand where this tips comes from but it does not appear accurate to me.

Now, that being said all of what is explained on how to go and launch an X86 or 32 BIT app or software is right on the button: it's kitchen stuff.

But before going through the hoops, take the time to open up your TASK MANAGER and take a look at the PROCESSES running after you launch IE. You should see both processes running and the purpose of it is exactly to look after those sites where 64 will not work well. It is my understanding that it switches to 32 automatically, thanks to MS.

Interesting, I never noticed that before, but this is the case on 8.1 at least.

And it makes sense upon reflection, since I believe MS used to have two shortcuts for IE in Start, but now I only see one, so there's no longer a reason to run the x86 one explicitly.

Also, ActiveX controls work fine, so if I had been using (only) the x64 version, I would have noticed it a long time ago.

Good tip. Thanks. Even though I rarely run IE, I like knowing these sorts of things.

And if anyone complains that this article doesn't belong in Gizmo's Freeware, I say they are wrong. Rob, you just instructed people how to access a FREE browser likely already installed on their PC that they probably weren't using before. Like all the other freeware discussed on this site, people can decide if they want to use it or not. Nice find.

Thank you Gil Mensch for getting in ahead of the inevitable troll comments all of Rob`s articles seem destined to attract. :) MC - Site Manager.