What does Internet Explorer protected mode do?

This information applies to Windows Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Internet Explorer 8.

Internet Explorer's protected mode is a feature that makes it more difficult for malicious software to be installed on your computer.

In addition to helping protect your computer from malicious software, protected mode allows you to install wanted ActiveX controls or add-ons when you are logged in as an administrator.

Protected mode is turned on by default in the Internet, intranet, and Restricted sites zones and an icon appears on the status bar to let you know that it's running.

Picture of protected mode icon
Protected mode icon

In addition to warning you when webpages try to install software, Internet Explorer will warn you when webpages try to run certain software programs. You are warned when a software program would run outside of Internet Explorer and outside of protected mode, because that program might have more access to your computer than you prefer. This usually happens when a website is using an add-on to run a software program on your computer. If you are viewing more than one website at a time, check all open websites to be sure you know which one is trying to run the program before granting your permission. If you trust the program and want to allow it to run on any website, select the Do not show me the warning for this program again check box.


  • If you turned the warning off and want to show it again, you need to reset Internet Explorer's settings. For more information, see Reset Internet Explorer settings.

  • If you do not want to allow webpages to use an add-on to run a specific software program on your computer and do not want to see the warning dialog as described above, you can disable the add-on that is being used. Open Add-on Manager and disable the add-on that is trying to use the program you do not want to allow. If you do not know which add-on to disable, you can try disabling all add-ons and then re-enabling them one by one until you find the add-on you want to disable. For more information see Internet Explorer add-ons: frequently asked questions.