Web Browser Safe Mode - How And Why

Sometimes your web browser can seem to have a mind of it's own - it starts acting all snotty like a pouting teen and is generally just a pain. Restarting the computer does not help, and it's not at all obvious what's going on - the computer itself seems otherwise okay. This happened to me with Firefox, following an automatic update to version 15. Firefox will usually check for any incompatibilities with existing extensions and disable them if needed, but in this case something went awry.

The symptoms were that Firefox would eat up a lot of system resources, the web page would never open, and closing Firefox would not stop the Firefox process from running in the background (and making the computer sluggish).

Note that browsers may have a "safe browsing mode" or "incognito mode", this means cookies and history are not kept for that session. The safe more I am referencing here is when the browser starts up with add-ins or extensions disabled.

In this case, I could still see the Firefox menu bar and was able to select "Restart with add-ons disabled" from the Help menu item. In Windows, you should also have a "Firefox Safe Mode" item under Program Files. Disabling a couple of wayward extensions did the trick for me.

[caption id="attachment_4825" align="aligncenter" width="150"]firefox safe click to enlarge[/caption]

To enable Safe Mode in Internet Explorer, there is usually a shortcut for it in the Program Menu, similar to Firefox. In Windows 7, you can also type "Internet Explorer" in the search box and you should see the "No Add-Ons" option in the results:

[caption id="attachment_4824" align="aligncenter" width="150"]safe mode click to enlarge[/caption]

Google's Chrome Browser does not have a dedicated Safe Mode, but there is something of a workaround described here.

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