A newly discovered Internet Explorer security bug has left Web security in jeopardy. Though Microsoft has agreed to soon release a patch — unless you’re one of the poor souls still on Windows XP — you’re probably going to want to consider switching to another Web browser in the meantime.
That isn’t just our advice: Even the federal government has suggested changing Web browsers until Microsoft fixes Internet Explorer.
Lucky for you, there are a few good alternatives to Microsoft’s built-in browser, including Opera, Google Chrome, and Mozilla Firefox. Chrome and Firefox are the two most popular alternatives. Each of these browsers will let you import your old browser history and bookmarks, too, so you don’t have to start from scratch after switching.
Note: The following instructions will be for Windows 8 computers, but installing on Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 should be nearly the same steps.
Switching to Chrome
First you’ll have to visit the Chrome.com website from your current browser.
Click the Download now button, and then follow the onscreen instructions.
Chrome will ask you to make it your default browser. This will make it so that Chrome, not Internet Explorer, will pop up when you click Web address links in emails and other programs. To do this, click Next at the prompt, and then select Google Chrome from the Windows settings pop-up.
Chrome will then launch for the first time and ask that you sign in with your Google/Gmail account. You can skip this, if you want. Logging in allows Google to automatically sync Android and Chrome desktop browsing history and bookmarks between devices. That means if you use Chrome on another computer, and sign in to the browser, then all your bookmarks and preferences will appear there, too.
Lastly, to import your computer’s Internet Explorer bookmarks and browsing history, just click the settings button in the upper-right corner of your Chrome browser. Mouse over to Bookmarks and click Import bookmarks and settings.
The pop-up window will ask what you’d like to import. Check everything you’d like, and click Import.
And that’s it.
Switching to Firefox
Visit Firefox.com to download Mozilla’s browser.
Click the Free Download button and then run the installation file by clicking Run in the pop-up that appears at the bottom of your Internet Explorer browser window.
The setup application will open. Click Install to continue, and when you get to the Import Wizard pop-up, be sure to select the button beside the Microsoft Internet Explorer and click the Next button to bring in your computer’s IE history and bookmarks. In the following window, you can also elect to Import your home page from Internet Explorer by selecting that bubble and clicking Next there.
After you’re finished with these steps, Firefox should open, and you’ll be asked to make it your default browser. Again, this will prevent Internet Explorer from opening when you click Web links from your email or other applications.
Check the Always perform this check when starting Firefox box to ensure that Internet Explorer doesn’t default back to your main browser, and then click Yes. In the Windows settings pop-up that will appear, click Firefox.
And you’re done!
Congratulations. You’re fully set up with a non-Internet Explorer Web browser.
Now you can browse safely until Microsoft announces a fix for that nasty security bug. Though who knows; once you go not-Internet Explorer, you may never go back.
Have questions, comments, or just want to tell me something funny? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.