Mar 142008

Internet Explorer 8 hosts a cheeky little security feature called Domain Highlighting. This is a simple feature which highlights the Top Level Domain of a website in black while greying out the rest of the website link.

A Top Level Domain is the primary domain name of any site which can have any number of Subdomains. highlighting the Top Level Domain of a website in the address bar always ensures that the user is always aware of site he is in. This is very important when it comes to secured sites like your online banking website or a site like Paypal where the information you enter (anything from a access username and password to account & creditcard informations) is critical.

And, making this look very clearer and highlighted in the address bar from the rest of the link makes the user that extra vigilant about where he is and be sure he is in the website that he intended to visit and not a spoofed or phishing website.

Lets look at this in action. I’m in

Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) - Domain Highlighting

website and clearly highlights the “” part of the URL making the rest greyed out. This is a simple thought than a technology evolution to secure you online but to me it is nicely thought out….

Incoming search terms:

  49 Responses to “Domain Highlighting – Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) new Security feature”

  1. that’s wonderful, now how do i turn this cr*p off?

  2. Seriously, this has got to be one of the worst ideas I’ve ever witnessed. I just uninstalled explorer 8 just because of this awful feature.

    I’d like to meet the guy at microsoft in charge of this “brilliant” idea and give him a piece of my mind. I can barely see my link now that it’s grey!! Thanks for saving me the time to just look at the left side of the link. Dont you guys have anthing better to do than lame little features like this that TOTALLY ruin the user experience. You’ve got to be kidding me microsoft, please disable this!!!

  3. Microsoft = The Devil

    I’d like to meet the guy at microsoft in charge of this “brilliant” idea and give him a piece of my mind. I can barely see my link now that it’s grey!! Thanks for saving me the time to just look at the left side of the link. Dont you guys have anthing better to do than lame little features like this that TOTALLY ruin the user experience. You’ve got to be kidding me microsoft, please disable this!!! I just uninstalled explorer 8 just because of this awful feature.

  4. Are you kidding me? I hate this. There should be something in the tools that can turn this off.

    It took me a long time to get used to IE7 after IE6.
    It was a huge change in technology and I was confused.

    That’s why I hate new stuff. I am a guy that prefers things stay the same forever rather than make life easier, this makes you lazier and this is just confusing

  5. Please give me an option to diable this crap. (and whatever it is that they replaced autocomplete with as well)

    If I don’t have the option to diable this then I’ll just go to using Firefox full time and not look back.

  6. I JUST LOVE IT!! It makes phishing and spoofing much harder!!

  7. I hate this function! It’s not useful.

  8. Wow…. so… this feature “TOTALLY ruined the user experience” for you, huh?

    Just…. wow.
    Like…. I don’t have words to express how dumb you are.
    The english language, with its millions of words, is actually inadequate to come up with a word that expresses how dumb you actually are.

    While I concur that it seemed out of place and almost silly at first, I managed to spend 30 seconds sucking it up, and now, after that long, tiring 30 seconds, I could honestly care less if it’s greyed out or not.
    But you’re almost violent over it… holy crap dude.

    See, this is why I would push for needing a license to use a computer… some of you clearly are not ready for technology.

  9. The is the worst thing I have ever saw on the internet and it is annoying as hell. I have tried to uninstall and reinstall going through the custom menu and it did no good, and have went in internet options to try and turn this off. Finally, when I did figure out what this was suppose to be called I found out it is not able to be turned off. I have wasted alot of time to get this off and it is not possible. I am going use safari until IE finally gets the point people do hate this and can not stand it.

  10. Every new release, a new annoyance. Don’t they do customer testing? Some of us actually subconsciously take in URLs and use them. How am i going to do this if i can’t see it?How many times have you had a spoofed domain in the address bar? I use the internet every day and have never had one. Stop treating us like idiots microsoft, or give us the options to turn these things off.

  11. For the live of me I can’t understand this Domain Highlighting thing. I just hate it. I’m an Internet Developer and I am constanly am making quick changes in the address bar to access staging servers for testing. I have to squint to see the rest of the damn address unless I focus on it. And why they don’t give the user some obvious option to turn this nonsense off is beyond me. If you like this utter crap fine but give the rest of us a way out of MS hell.

  12. This is the worst browser “feature” EVER. Give me a break, give users an option to disable this POS. Otherwise, you’ll lose even more users with these great “inovations.”

  13. There needs to be a way to disable it, if even a reg hack. I work with long URL’s with lots of query string parameters and this makes my job much harder as the quesrystring is much harder to read now. Unfortunately, I am stuck with using IE as this is what our testing platform is built to run on… And Thomas (Comment by Thomas on March 26, 2009 @ 8:49 pm), you need to realize that people use IE for more than just surfing, and the domain name is not the only important part or the URL. This feature is bad and will kill the experience for many users who use IE for testing and dev work.

  14. Mike’s right. Do they ever host a focus group or they just want to annoy the most people each time they release something. I have IE as my second browser, because I need it for some specific sites, but the grey url thing is another reason why the more knowledge the user get, the more chance it goes out of the Seattle empire. And I don’t even dropped a word on that ridiculous bug between Windows Update declining access to IE 8.

  15. Please, please, please, give us the option to trun this off. PLEASE!!!!!!!

  16. Horrible feature, I develop web pages and NEED to SEE the entire url. Having to mouse over the address bar just to read the url is ridiculous. An option to turn this off is needed desperately.

  17. It is quite annoying feature. Could you make an option to get this domain highlighting off please! It’s making the url harder to read and you don’t easily know on witch page you are on the same domain. A better idea to highlight the domain would be to bold it with the same color as rest of the url.

  18. The domain highlighting does not work properly for extensions like,, or

  19. Domain highlighting is a great feature for those who wish to use it, but for those of us who don’t want to use it, for those of us who find it simply annoying, we’d really appreciate a way to TURN IT OFF!

  20. Not cool MS, NOT COOL! I’ve got OCD to a minor degree, I can’t stand when things don’t match up!! Please get rid of it, for all the crazy people!

  21. Domain highlighting sucks. Fix it MS.

  22. Annoying feature!

    How can this be in the actual release? Didn’t anybody notice during beta testing that this feature sucks?

    And no way to disable this.. WTF!

    Think for a moment how would people respond if newspapers would be written like this. It’s tiring for the eye since it’s difficult to read and highlighted word catches your attention.

    Waiting for the option to disable this..

  23. i had to revert back to IE7 because of this stupid domain highlighting feature which is damn stupid.. nice if u could turn the feature off..

  24. Ok, so very occasionally it might be useful to easily see what the domain is. But by greying out the rest of the URL so its almost impossible to read is just stupid. I often want to see the rest of the URL – and not have to hover the mouse pointer over it to see it.

    if MS want to incorporate stupid features like this, at least give user the means to turn them off. For now I shall be using another browser whenever I can.

  25. Disabling the feature would certainly be a reasonable addition. However, for most of you who are anoyed, please notice that once you click with the mouse and/or put a text cursor into the URL string, the highlighting feature turns off by itself. Hence, there is no issue with not seeing it. The highlighting feature is definitely useful for many people (and most users do not even look at the url and go to web sites by searching in Google or using favorites someone else have saved for them) in that it al least teaches them to be aware that the URL is a dinamic thing. This will also teach some of the developers to make their pages stay in the same domain – I am referring to the cases I noticed myself where I login to e.g.,, but after few clicks find myself being working at os something like that.

  26. Nonetheless, WizGnome, it IS annoying, especially since it’s far less effort to glance at the address bar than to constantly hover your mouse in place (especially since you go back to the grayed-out state the minute you remove it). I’m already quite aware of how domain names work, I know how to avoid phishing, and I don’t really need Microsoft’s help in the matter.

    Installing an “off” switch for this add-on would have been simple common sense — let the people who need it keep it, while the rest of us do without. As it is, it’s a little like having a permanently activated “Clippy” (remember Clippy?); it adds little in the way of functionality while irritating a number of long-term users.

    Hopefully, Microsoft will fix this soon. Otherwise, I think I’ll be looking into Firefox or Mozilla.

  27. I found this while searching for a way to turn this greying out of the address bar off. It’s really getting on my nerves.

    There should be an option called “I’m not an imbecile, I know what a phishing link is, please trust me and allow me to see the address in one colour.”

  28. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one this annoys to no end!

    When IE8 auto-installed on my laptop, I quickly uninstalled it, mostly because I found THIS quite annoying!

    But now I’ve got a new computer too, and IE8 is what came with it. So, I don’t believe I can go ‘back’ to IE7 since there’s nothing to go ‘back’ to on this?? (Please tell me if i’m wrong! I’d LOVE to be wrong for once LOL!)

    And… it really irritates me.
    AND the fact that when I open new tabs, the tabs are COLOURED?! I mean, seriously!! Are Microsoft taking us for IDIOTS?!


    I wish I could say I’m getting used to it, but I am not. At all.

  29. Yes, I too found this website when searching for a method to disable the dumbest thing ever to come out of Seattle.

    I’ve seen it around the office on coworkers computers and can’t stand it. Most of them didn’t even realize anything was different. These clueless users are the ones that Microsoft was intending to help out perhaps… However, the dumb ones never look at the Address bar anyways, so what was the point!?!?!

    And to have this slip through beta testing and make it to full release is one thing, but to not realize the frustration that it would cause to the “advanced users” (who happen to also be the ones who love to bash Microsoft on forums) and leave out that simple “Disable Domain Highlighting” checkbox is beyond me.

  30. What was the QA team doing in Microsoft while this annoyance was being introduced?

    At least allow for the feature to be disabled. I need to be able to look at the entire URL while at work without squinting everytime to see which f*ing page I am working on in my domain.

    Thanks but no thanks Microsoft

  31. …while mousing over the address bar …this feature gets disabled.
    Hurray!! now I can always drag the cursor over to the address bar if I have to take a quick (I mean a quick) glance at the page I am on.
    This doesnt help a lot either… because I might as well have selected the url to see it in white contrast with blue background.
    Just the action of moving the mouse over to the address bar eveytime one has to read it clearly…can drive a sane person crazy.

  32. Damn this is annoying. To make matters worse I’ve always found black text on a white background annoying, so the first thing I do when installing windows is to change the default background color to grey (with a slight touch of blue). Now the grey part of the url is all but invisible.

  33. I just upgraded to IE8 today and, after spending forty-five minutes disabling the massive amount of toolbars and options cluttering up the display, decided to do a search about how to disable ‘domain highlighting.’ Apparently, there is no such option. Lovely.

    I’ve wasted an hour trying to make this display useable but that irritating address bar is unacceptable. It’s hard to read and doesn’t do me any favors- I’m perfectly capable of reading a domain name without assistance and would greatly appreciate being given the option to do so! Until IE8 provides a disable option for domain highlighting, I’m using Firefox.

    And I see that I’m not the only one…

  34. I have poor eyesight.
    This greyout feature means I uninstalled IE8.

    Had I left it installed I would have been at a higher risk of phishing because it makes the url extremely difficult to read.

    It probably seemed like a great idea at the product development meeting. Maybe next time Microsoft will stop pandering to infantalised consumers in the 12-18 demographic and actually consider the wide range of users from birth to death. Or is designing software too difficult?

    Domain highlighting is the Edsel of Explorer.

  35. I didn’t like this feature too. THE OTHER INFORMATIONS IN THE LINK ADDRESS ARE IMPORTANT TO ME TOO!! I want to turn this off. The multicoloured tabs are also like I was in a party, or something like that, at least you can disable this in the options.

  36. hahahahaha! Some comments are really funny.. well, I hope that Microsoft see these posts and provide any way to disable these “improvements”. Many people want the computer just running in a comfortable but simple and organized way.

  37. I didn’t like this feature too. THE OTHER INFORMATIONS IN THE LINK ARE ALSO IMPORTANT TO ME!! I want to turn this off. The multicoloured tabs are also like I was in a Rave Party, at least I there’s an option to disable this one.

  38. I have a BIG problem with the fact that you can not disable this domain highlighting feature. I work in software support and have to use both test and production websites. The test website is abailable to me as where production is This makes it entirely too difficult to determine which site I’m on because the only highlighted portion of the address bar is I downgraded back to 7.

  39. I noticed the domain name issue but it is nowhere near as annoying as the greyed print for comments on sympatico or msn pages.
    Perhaps Microsnot would provide glasses to read it so my eyes aren’t strained.

    Another “engineering” excercise to justify their exsistance.
    Now put a option in options for this like say a patch.
    Never happen now methinks, they are not interested. Pricks

  40. This is the worst option I have ever seen, Some of us actualy use subdomains to host websites that are not related to the main site. We own the domain MS has no right to hide our subdomains. This is restraint of trade.
    Worse still they even hide the page names. I don’t care if phishing is a problem this is not a way to stop it.

    MS needs to understand that the website owners are the ones that push what browsers are used and this is making us mad.

    Right now I have a message that is displayed to all IE8 users that they are not seeing the full domain name due to a bug in IE8.

  41. Hate this. I just ran MS fix to get the damn address bar back below the file menu. God I hate these changes they make.
    I really hate this greyed out url thing. It is horrible.
    I try to use firefox most of the time, but as a web designer I have to check stuff in IE.

  42. I simply gave up and switched to Firefox for home use. Much more customizable (and secure). I know it seems like a small thing, but the domain highlighting really annoyed the heck out of me … giving it an on/off switch should have been a no-brainer.

  43. You have an option of using Mozilla or Internet Explorer, there it is, a solution to your problem.

  44. From an end users perspective this might seem all nice and peachy – but from a developers point of view this is absolute f*cking CRAP!

    Im trying to read lengthy URL’s which include numerous querystring variables – and I cant READ THE BLOODY URL!!


  45. Oh man, this is seriously doing my head in.

    Does anyone know of a registry fix for this rubbish?

  46. Uninstalled IE8 after an hour of madness trying to disble this annoying and useless feature. Way to go MS, keep up the good work!

  47. Here’s a what I did. It’s not the perfect solution but it makes me MUCH happier than not being able to see the URL address without straining my eyes. It’s a few steps more than if they just gave us the options we need. But Microsoft is a bunch of idiots sooo… we have to come up with our own solutions.

    And I’m not extrememly technical. So if I can do this, hopefully most people can. (And it makes me crazy when people offer solutions that are impossible to follow without being a Microsoft Programmer or mind reader… or both. So I’m going to try to make them at least do-able by the average person.)

    I’m a web and documentation developer so I REALLY need to be able to see the URL in a Web browser without having to click on the darn thing. And highlighting the entire thing in reverse is hard on my eyes too. So IE8 was just not gonna work for me.:

    ***These instructions are for Windows XP***
    STEP 1: Install Quero Toolbar. This adds a second toolbar – but Quero’s doesn’t make it impossible for you to read the URL. (I know, you don’t want two toolbars. So refer to the next step below)
    Pretty much ALL options that Quero comes with are defaulted off. And you can use them if you want. But don’t be scared by all the stuff they brag about being part of the Quero toolbar.

    STEP 2: Since IE8 doesn’t allow you to turn off the address bar, you have to hack the registry to make it go away. Yes. That’s Right! They say for security purposes they don’t want you turning off the URL address bar at the top of the screen – THAT THEY MADE IMPOSSIBLE TO READ. Idiots!

    ***These instructions are for Windows XP***
    Here’s the steps to hack the registry:
    1. On the bottom left corner – Click Start > then Run > then type “regedit” and hit Enter
    2. Under the My Computer options open the following folders by clicking on the plus sign.
    HKEY_Current_USER\software\policies\microsoft\internet explorer
    3. Click to highlight the internet explorer folder
    4. Select Edit > New > Key
    5. The new folder will open already highlighted. Type “toolbars” and hit Enter. (This becomes the name of the new folder.)
    6. Click to highlight the “toolbars” folder.
    7. Select Edit > New > Key
    8. The new folder will open already highlighted. Type “restrictions” and hit Enter. (This becomes the name of the new folder.)
    9. Click to highlight the “restrictions” folder.
    10. Select Edit > New > DWORD Value
    11. The new REG_DWORD item will open already highlighted. Type “NoNavBar” and hit Enter. (This becomes the name of the new item.)
    12. Double-Click on the new “NoNavBar” item. The Edit DWORD Value prompt appears.
    13. Change the Value date field to a “1″ and then click OK.
    14 Close Registry Editor.

    STEP 3: Reboot your PC and launch IE8.

    The navaigation bar is gone. You can now use the Quero Navigation bar instead AND you can actually SEE the URL address without going blind. THEY highlight the doman too but actually did it like they had some idea what they were doing. AND they left the rest of the URL readable.

    NOTE: The “Find on this Page” icon is also gone because it was part of the new (ahem) improved Navigation Bar. (It looked like a magnifying glass.) I don’t use this very often BUT that function is STILL available when I need it.
    1. You just have to turn on the IE “Menu Bar” by going to Tools > Toolbars.
    2. Then you select Menu Bar.
    3. When the Menu Bar appears, the “Find on this page” option is there like it was in IE7 under “Edit”.
    3. You can turn the Menu Bar back off when you don’t need it since it takes up space on the screen for no reason.

    Hope this is helpful. I am so glad I was able to figure this out.

  48. This sucks, now when I try to use one of my https banking bookmarks on my yahoo page it doesn’t work. I have tried for a week to correct this problem and it just cannot be done. I’m going to uninstall IE 8 just because of this piece of junk!!!!

  49. I just installed IE8, and this new “domain highlighting” makes URLs very hard to read. I don’t want to have to keep running the cursor up to see what page I’m on. I want to just glance up there quickly.

    Why can’t we just have the option of turning this off?

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