Internet Explorer (IE) displays an Information Bar when it takes steps to protect a computer against online security threats. Those steps, however, may block access to pop-up windows and other material that you want to view.
Pop-ups are small windows that suddenly appear on web sites. They usually are a nuisance, displaying unwanted advertising messages. Click to close one and another and another may lurk underneath.
Some pop-ups, however, are useful. When you click on an image to enlarge it, for instance, the bigger version often arrives in a pop-up window. If you re buying airline or concert tickets online, the chart for seat selection may open in a pop-up window.
Obviously, getting control over the Information Bar is important.
The bar has been a feature on IE since 2004. It was a part of the suite of new security features and other updates in Windows Service Pack 2. However, it continues to puzzle some computer users for several reasons.
For one, the bar usually is invisible. To avoid cluttering IE, Microsoft designed the bar to appear only when a security threat occurs. The bar also is hard to see. It appears and disappears fast, in a small window right below the address bar.
An alert tone does sound to call attention to the bar. That s fine if the computer s sound is turned on and if you can figure out what the tone means. The bar displays a message explaining what s going on. However, the type is small and some people have difficulty reading it. Others ignore it, assuming that any message that small is not important.
Watch for the bar and the alert tone when working online.
Once you see it, a mouse click on the bar will yield more information explaining what happened. You ll discover, for instance, that IE has blocked popup window or stopped a web site from downloading a file to your computer. Then you can decide what to do on a case-by-case basis.
That file download may be video or other animated content that you requested from a web site. It also could be spyware, a program that will collect information from your computer and send it to spammers.
You also can configure the security settings that trigger the bar. For pop-up windows, for instance, click Tools on the IE toolbar. In the drop-down menu, select Popup Blocker Settings.
I found that the pop-up blocker was preventing me from accessing certain features of my online banking site. It happened, of course, when I had to transfer money from one account to another fast to keep checks from bouncing. There was a lot of fussing and fuming before I discovered the problem.
I solved it permanently by adding my bank s Internet address to the Allowed sites in the settings window. Add as many sites as you wish.
More information about using the bar is at (www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/web/sp2_infobar.mspx).