Hack 32. Give Internet Explorer a Face-Lift
Don't like the way Internet Explorer looks? A better-looking browser is just a Registry edit away.
Everything about Internet Explorer screams, "Dull, dull, dull!" From its generic-looking logo to the plain background for its toolbars, you just better hope the content you're visiting is enough to keep you awake. But you don't need to be stuck with its plain-Jane looks; these Registry hacks will let you change it however you'd like.
4.2.1. Change the Internet Explorer Logo
Internet Explorer has both a static and an animated logo. The static logo displays when the browser is inactive, and the animated logo displays when the browser is locating a site, connecting, and actively downloading pages or images from the Web. Because you have the choice of displaying large or small icons on the Internet Explorer toolbar (to switch back and forth between the two, choose View Toolbars Customize Icon Options Large/Small icons), there are two sizes of both the static and animated logos.
Before you begin, you'll need to create new logos to replace the existing ones. You'll have to create two sets of icons in .bmp format: one set for the smaller logo and another set for the larger logo. Each set will have a static logo and an animated logo. The static logos should be 22 22 pixels for the smaller size and 38 38 pixels for the larger size. The animated logos have to be animated bitmaps, each of which should have a total of 10 frames. So, the smaller animated bitmap should be 22 pixels wide by 220 pixels high, and the larger animated bitmap should be 38 pixels wide by 380 pixels high.
Create the static bitmaps with any graphics program, including the version of Paint that comes with XP. You can also use special icon-creation programs to create your icons, such as Microangelo (http://www.microangelo.us/). See [Hack #19] for more details. (Make sure when using Microangelo to choose Tools New Image format, which will let you create the icons with the proper pixel dimensions, as explained in the previous paragraph.)
To create the animated bitmaps, you'll need special tools. Microangelo does a great job of creating them, and that's your best bet. If you prefer, though, you can create the 10 separate frames for the animated bitmaps in a graphics program such as Paint and then stitch the 10 separate frames together using the Animated Bitmap Creator (http://jsanjuan.tripod.com/download.html), a free command-line program.
To change Internet Explorer's static logos to your new ones, run the Registry Editor [Hack #83] and go to:
Create two string values named SmallBitmap and BigBitmap and give them each the value of their filename and location, including the full pathfor example, C:\Windows\IEbiglogo.bmp and C:\Windows\IEsmalllogo.bmp. As you might guess, the SmallBitmap value points to the smaller logo, and the BigBitmap value points to the larger logo.
To use your new animated logos, go to:
Create two string values named SmBrandBitmap and BrandBitmap and give them each the value of their filename and locationfor example, C:\Windows\IEbiganimatelogo.bmp and C:\Windows\IEsmallanimatelogo.bmp. Once again, as you might guess, SmBrandBitmap is for the smaller animated logo and BrandBitmap is for the larger logo.
Exit the Registry and close Internet Explorer. When you next start up Internet Explorer, it should display your new logos. To revert to the default logos, simply delete the values you've created.
4.2.2. Add a Background to the Internet Explorer Toolbar
The Internet Explorer toolbar that sits at the top of Internet Explorer is about as dull as it getsa plain, solid background, like the rest of Internet Explorer. But it doesn't have to be that way. You can add any background you want.
First, create the background or use an existing one. The background should be in .bmp format. Create it using a graphics program such as Paint Shop Pro (available from http://www.jasc.com) or Microangelo. See [Hack #19] for more details.
You'll also find a variety of .bmp files in the C:\Windows folder, so check them out to see if you like any. You might try FeatherTexture.bmp, which you can see in use as an Internet Explorer toolbar background in Figure 4-1. Whatever you choose, though, make sure it's light enough to show black text and it's not so busy that you can't read the menu text that will be on top of it. If you create or use a file that's too small, Internet Explorer will tile it for you. However, don't use a bitmap smaller than 10 10 pixels, because all the work Internet Explorer has to do to tile images that small will slow down your web browsing.
Figure 4-1. Internet Explorer with FeatherTexture.bmp as its toolbar background
Once you have a bitmap, run the Registry Editor and go to:
Create a new string value named BackBitmapIE5 and give it the value of the filename and location of the background you're going to use, such as C:\Windows\FeatherTexture.bmp. Exit the Registry and close Internet Explorer. When you next start up Internet Explorer, it will display the background on the toolbar. To take away the background, simply delete the BackBitmapIE5 key.
4.2.3. Change the Text of Internet Explorer's Titlebar
Internet Explorer's titlebar displays the text "Microsoft Internet Explorer," along with the title of the page you're currently visiting. However, you can change the "Microsoft Internet Explorer" text to any text you want. Run the Registry Editor and go to:
Add a new string value named Window Title and give it a value of whatever text you want displayed in the titlebar. Exit the Registry and close Internet Explorer if it's open. The next time you open Internet Explorer, the titlebar will have your new text.
If you want your titlebar to have no text in it, aside from the title of the page you're currently visiting, create the Window Title string value but leave the Value field empty.