Windows Adjustments: Changing the View Source Application in Internet Explorer 8

While an increasing number of Windows users browse the web with something other than Internet Explorer, Explorer certainly has its uses. Chief among these is a handy way to edit local HTML documents. Open the page in question on your hard drive, right-click on it and select View Source. The HTML document for your page will appear in Windows NotePad.

At least, it would appear in Windows NotePad if you hadn’t accepted Microsoft’s generous offer to upgrade to Internet Explorer 8. Explorer 8 uses its own internal viewer to view the source of web pages, and it really is a viewer – you can’t edit the text of documents therein.

You can return Explorer 8 to the behavior of its predecessors in this respect, that is, you can change the application it uses when it’s called upon to View Source.

You’ll need to run the Windows registry editor to address this issue. The registry editor is a powerful tool, and like all powerful tools, it has the capacity to saw your arm off if you use it incorrectly. This shouldn’t be cause to skip the rest of this section – but do pay close attention to the instructions. Incautious behavior with the registry editor may make Windows unstable, or in extreme cases of sloth and lapses of attention, render your system unbootable.

To run the Windows registry editor, select Run from the Start menu, type REGEDIT in the Open field and then click on OK. The registry editor application will open.

As an aside, the Windows registry being a fundamental component of Windows, it’s not a wholly bad idea to back it up before you start meddling with its mind. To do this:

  1. Select Export from the File menu of the registry editor.
  2. Select All for the Export Range option of the Export Registry File dialog.
  3. Enter Registry.reg in the File Name field of the Export Registry File dialog.
  4. Navigate to the root of your hard drive.
  5. Click on Save.

Having backed up your registry, you can later restore it using the Import item of the registry editor’s File menu.

To change the default View Source application for Explorer 8, you’ll need to:

  1. Open the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE item in the tree in the left side of the registry editor by double-clickin on it.
  2. Open the SOFTWARE sub-key.
  3. Open the Microsoft sub-key.
  4. Open the Internet Explorer sub-key.
  5. Right click on the Internet Explorer key and select New from the menu that appears. Select Key from the New sub-menu. A new key will be created.
  6. Change the name of the new key to View Source Editor.
  7. Right click on the View Source Editor key and select New from the menu that appears. Select Key from the New sub-menu. A new key will be created under View Source Editor.
  8. Change the name of the new key to Editor Name.
  9. Click on the Editor Name key to select it. Its contents will appear at the top of the right pane of the registry editor window.
  10. Right-click on the (default) text in the key contents and select Modify from the menu that appears. Change the contents of the key to Notepad.exe.
  11. Exit the registry editor.

You can use the same procedure to assign a different application to the View Source function of Internet Explorer 8, but you’d have to enter the complete path to its executable if you do so.

Please see the disclaimers for Windows Adjustments before you apply the information at this post.

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