August 31, 2006

Refreshing Internet Explorer

While alternative browsers are all the rage, the practical reality is that many organizations use Internet Explorer as their main browser. One reason is wider compatibility with the plethora of web sites and their embedded multimedia. However, have you ever noticed that sometimes a particular web site just won't load or update properly, and doing a Refresh (F5 or Refresh button) just doesn't help?

You see, contrary to its plain meaning, the standard Refresh feature may not actually refresh content by pulling it down from the web site. Instead, it checks the temporary copy of the web site it just downloaded to your hard drive (the local "cache"). Sometimes the cache gets messed up ("corrupted"), and IE dutifully keeps trying to load that messed up copy. Also, most offices have a proxy server to allow shared Internet access to its users, which may also have a stored copy of the web page.

In some cases, it helps to delete your local browser cache on your hard drive, which takes six mouse clicks (Tools, Internet Options, Delete Files, Delete all offline content, OK, OK). Not difficult, but somewhat annoying. Another option is to force IE to do a full refresh by grabbing a fresh copy of the web site:

Simply press CTRL-F5 or hold down the CTRL key while clicking on the Refresh button in IE's toolbar.

In my experience, most people simply don't know about this second refresh feature. It's in the IE online help, but who reads that anymore? (Okay, I do.) Those who update web site content should also find this very helpful. There's been a number of times when I've updated LawTech Guru, pressed F5 to refresh, and nothing happened. CTRL-F5 did the trick. Quite refreshing.

Topic(s):   Blogging Tips  |  Trick or Treat  |  Web Wizardry
Posted by Jeff Beard