IE7Pro: a Swiss Army Knife of add-ons for Internet Explorer

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IE7Pro is a free add-on for Internet Explorer that introduces a lot of features and tweaks to make your IE experience more useful. IE7Pro includes tabbed browsing management, spell check, inline search, super drag and drop, crash recovery, a proxy switcher, mouse gestures, a history browser, a web accelerator, and a number of other useful functions. It also supports a Greasemonkey-like User Scripts platform and user plug-ins.

[Editor’s note: this review was written by Freewaregenius contributor Gaurav Paul with subsequent editing by the webmaster].

We all hail Firefox for it’s customizability, the many great add-ons that it supports, and for greasemonkey! For those who use Internet Explorer and may have been disappointed by the lack of good add-ons, IE7Pro promises (and delivers) on many items that are on your wish list and provides a much enriched web experience, all within a single, fast install. Some notes on this program below:

  • The user interface: right-click the IE7Pro icon in the statusbar in order to access the various functions (many of these also support keyboard shortcuts as well).
  • Mix and match what you like: if you’re concerned about adding too many features and options if you install IE7pro you need not fear. One of the coolest features about IE7Pro is that it has a plugin-architecture which enables you to activate the features that you want and disable those you don’t.

IE7Pro offers a great many features, so I will not list them all. Instead the ones I will mention here are (a) features that I absolutely love, and (b) features that I really, really, like but that should have been better implemented (and that I am wishing they would revisit).

Eleven Twelve IE7Pro features that I really like:

  1. IEscripts: similar to Greasemonkey for Firefox.You can add user scripts to tweak how you view certain website(s) or to provide certain functions. Many scripts come with their own installers such as the GMail CSS skin,YouTube downloader, Myspace Notifier and many others. What this means to you is that you can create your own scripts or, if you’re not a coder, you can visit this site for many useful downloadible user scripts.
  2. IE7Pro - last open tabTab History: maintains a list of your history of visited tabs that you can can use to quickly re-access any recently visited site (you can optionally add this to IE’s context menu).
  3. Form filler: this is a full-fledged auto-password and form completion alternative to Keepass or Alpass. It is also local, in case you are uncomfortable using an online password manager such as Lastpass (which is actually my current favorite). It takes a bit of manual setting up at first as it does not auto-detect forms, but generally it works well. Also does not pre-fill forms but can be prompted to do so using a hotkey. It is the sheer simplicity and straightforward-ness of this one that I find attractive.
  4. Clear privacy data: using a single click. Works well. An alternative to, say, Click&Clean or Cachepal. Cleans all areas that contain information on your internet activity such as your browsing history, cookies, forms, etc. Also included is an “AutoClear upon browser exit” option which can be very useful.
  5. Proxy switcher: simple and works very well.
  6. IE7Pro - showpasswordShow password on mouseover: a reader-created script that simply displays the password underneath the asterisks. This can be a lifesaver, and is the first one of its kind out of many that I tried that actually worked for me.
  7. Mini Download Manager: allows you to pause/resume downloads, and to keep a record of your downloads and the URLs whence they originated. If you are not interested in a full-fledged download manager/accelerator such as Orbit Downloader or Flashget (which can be somewhat intrusive and may introduce P2P features that some people might want to avoid).
  8. IE7Pro - spellingSpellChecker: quickly correct your typos within browser-based forms. Uses the open source Aspell. Works well.
  9. Session Manager: allows you to save the currently opened configuration of sites/tabs as a session to be retrieved and resumed at a future point (similar to say, IESessions, but I kind of prefer this one).
  10. Resize IE window: to 800×600, 1024×768, 1280×1084, or user-defined. Perfect for webmasters, developers, and designers who want to quickly see what their sites look like under different resolution settings (1024×768 being the most widespread).
  11. FasterIE: with this enabled you can expect some speed optimizations to Internet Explorer. I couldn’t measure this myself, but am putting this feature on the list anyway.
  12. AdBlocker & FlashBlocker: similar to AdBlock Plus for Firefox. Blocks ads on all sites, but you can manually add filters to it to enable them on certain sites if you want to.

Other available functions: a good number of these; URL Aliases, Findbar (enhanced on-page text search), capture screenshot of whole site, navigate by mouse gestures, custom page autoscroll , auto-refresh at set interval(s), scroll by grab and drag, a (fairly good) user created module for downloading from video sharing sites, etc. etc.

Wish list: Three IE7Pro features that can be better implemented

  • Crash Recovery: automatically opens a tab with a list of the tabs/sites that were open when IE last crashed, similar to Firefox. In theory a terrific function; in practice “crash recovery” seems to produce a list of the last visited URLs whether there was a crash or not (and sometimes you do not want this on a shared computer). After a while I found this annoying and had to switch it off. I also found myself wishing I could access these recovered URLs somewhere private rather than first thing I see when I launch IE.
  • Online bookmark sync: a bookmarking service that connects to the IE7Pro developer’s website and stores your favorites remotely; useful for syncing your bookmarks across multiple computers.(You have to register an online account first, obviously). My wish list for this one would be the release of a Firefox add-on that enables sharing bookmarks across browsers as well.
  • Easy Homepage: optionally replaces your home page with a thumbnail grid of your favorite URLs. Sounded good to me, except the thumbnails were inexplicably lo-res and did not maintain their aspect ratio when the IE window was resized (which looked jarring). Also “Easy Homepage” seemed to be rather slow when launched, which I didn’t like.

Freewaregenius 5-Star Pick

The verdict: I am a Firefox user and will admit that I usually do not use IE unless I have to. One of the main reasons for this is that I find it very hard to have great add-ons like the ones I use in Firefox. But this IE add-on delivers a much improved IE experience and has completely changed the way I perceive IE.

The only criticism I have of this software are (a) some of the modules could have been better implemented (as mentioned above), and (b) documentation for individual modules is at times sparse: you might enable a plugin or module and find yourself doing a lot of fiddling around and experimenting to figure out how to get it to work. Most of the tasks being performed are simple translations from various Firefox add-ons and functions, and they’re very good/useful to have. The addition of user scripts make it highly customizable.

If you use IE this app promises to increase your productivity and enhance your experience; a must have install for IE users. Recommended!

Version Tested: 2.4.5

Compatibility: this software was tested on IE7 but the developer’s website confirms compatibility with both IE6 and IE8 RC1.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 2.36 megs).