Eight Easy Extras for IE8

5. Protect your Privacy and Even Block Ads with InPrivate Filtering

As you surf the Web, you encounter a fair amount of third-party content (primarily advertising) that doesn't originate from the sites you're visiting -- and often that content is served up by the same sources over and over. As you encounter such content on site after site, a fairly thorough profile of your browsing habits, interests and even purchases can be assembled by advertisers using cookies to track your behavior.

Ad services such as DoubleClick put a cookie on your PC every time they serve an ad, and each subsequent ad (on the same site or on a new one) checks for that cookie. So if you visit 10 sites that all have ads from a single source, the ad service can tell that you visited those 10 sites, how long you stayed there, which ads you ignored, which ones you clicked and so on.

InPrivate Filtering is a new IE8 feature that selectively blocks content such as ads, statistics apps like Google Analytics, and other (mostly ad-related) content that does not originate from the site you're visiting. It doesn't block all such content. Instead, it tracks the sources of third-party content and blocks a source when it crosses a certain threshold (10 viewings by default). The idea is not to block ads, but to block the ability to track individuals across multiple Web sites.

To turn it on, select InPrivate Filtering under the Safety menu. Selecting InPrivate Filtering Settings under the Safety menu shows you how many sites you've visited that show content from a particular ad server. Here, you can set the filter's threshold to anywhere from three to 30 sites, or exclude certain sources (or particular content from a source) from filtering.

Bonus tip: InPrivate Filtering can be hacked to block most ads, not just ones you've seen a certain number of times. As described on Neowin.net, you can download an XML file that lists the Web advertisers blocked by the Adblock Plus add-on for Firefox, then feed that file to InPrivate Filtering to block all those advertisers from IE8.

Once you have the XML file, open the InPrivate Filtering settings and click the "Advanced settings" link at the bottom. In the Manage Add-ons dialog box that pops up, click the Import button, browse to select your new XML file, and click OK. From now on, InPrivate Filtering will block any content from advertisers on the list.

6. View Incompatible Pages with the Compatibility Viewer

Although Microsoft touts IE8 as its most standards-compliant browser ever, the Web is littered with millions of sites that were written with IE's earlier, sloppier handling of Web standards in mind. If you come across a page that seems a little wonky, try the Compatibility Viewer, Microsoft's concession to its own less-than-wholesome past.

Just click the button to the right of the Address Bar that looks like a torn sheet of paper (shown at right), and your broken page should put itself back together.

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