Enabling IE-mode in new Microsoft Edge (Chromium)

It’s been ages since I’ve blogged, so it was about time to write something new. I’ve been using Microsoft’s new Edge browser ever since the developer build came out, and one it’s best features (at least for IT professionals) is its IE-mode: the possibilty to open certain sites in a tab that runs the Internet Explorer rendering engine. So let’s talk about how we can enable this feature.

Prerequisites

First of all it’s a good thing to point out that running an Internet Explorer tab is only useful for some tasks which are mainly only interesting for IT professionals, like Sharepoint administrators for example. Because some more advanced things only work in Internet Explorer, like opening a document library in Windows Explorer from the ribbon for instance.
In most other usecases it’ll be wiser to just use the standard Chromium rendering engine, since that’s more modern and made for todays web and thus also much more secure than the aging IE.

By the way, the IE-mode feature is an enterprise feature, so you will not find a regular menu item in the browser to invoke it. You’ll have to either create a local policy (if your company admin hasn’t already done so) or append an unsupported flag to the launch shortcut of Edge. I’m gonna talk about both here 🙂

So, you’ll need the following:

  • Obviously Edge Chromium, version 78 or up, installed on your system.
  • A Windows install that is NOT a Home edition, preferably Windows 10, latest builds, but since the new Edge is also available for Windows 7 and 8, an Enterprise version of these Windows versions will do too.
    All of them need a certain minimum patch-level. Check here for what versions.

IE-mode by setting a flag to the shortcut

This is the easiest way of enabling the IE-mode, but in the workflow of using it you will have to reopen each tab you want in IE-mode by choosing “Open in IE-mode” from the ‘More tools’ section in the menu.

First you will need to go into the browsers special settings by typing ‘edge://flags‘ in the addressbar (without the quotes). From there type ‘IE’ in the searchbar on top and find these settings and set them as shown:

Close these flags settings and then go find your Edge launch shortcut on your desktop (if you don’t have one, create one). Now right-click the shortcut and append this to the target string (make sure to type a space between the path and the first dash):

--ie-mode-test

After that your shortcut path should look like this:

If you now open the browser from this modified shortcut, you should see a small notification bar along the top edge to warn you of the ‘unsupported command-line flag‘ being in use and you should now be able to open websites in a new IE-mode tab from the ‘More tools‘ menu in the browser.

Important note (!):

This command-line will NOT work when you already have an instance of Edge running which was NOT started through this shortcut. So close ALL Edge windows first before you click this modified shortcut.

IE-mode by local policy

If your Edge browser is not (yet) being managed by your organisation, the best way of using IE-mode is by setting a local policy to Edge (so on your machine only) that will choose in what mode to open a site based on a sitelist you provide. This list is an XML file in which you define which domains get opened in a IE-mode tab.

To enable IE-mode by policy we need to do three things:

  1. Install the Microsoft Edge Policy Templates
  2. Create a sitelist.xml file to define sites we want to open in a IE-mode tab
  3. Set the appropriate policies in the Local Group Policy Editor

Well, let’s get on with it 🙂

Step 1: Installing the templates

First download the MicrosoftEdgePolicyTemplates (I’ve hosted this file myself here because Microsoft keeps on changing the documentation sites). Unpack/Extract the MicrosoftEdgePolicyTemplates.zip file and go into the ‘windows‘ folder. In there you’ll find two folders: ‘adm‘ and ‘admx‘. First open the ‘admx‘ folder and find the ‘msedge.admx‘ file, and then place it here on your machine (you can see the full path in the address bar):

Next, go into the ‘adm‘ folder and then into the folder of your system locale (in our screenshot examples NL-nl which is Dutch). There will be one file there: ‘msedge.adm’. Place that file in this location on your machine:

Step 2: Creat a sitelist.xml

If you have a dedicated app for producing XML files you can use that, of you can use my example that I have included in the root of the MicrosoftEdgePolicyTemplates.zip package and use Notepad to edit it (it’s called sites.xml). The XML file will look something like this:


A few remarks to make here: whenever you expand the list, make sure you increase the site-list version number with a major version, so for example from 1.0 to 2.0. The URL’s do not include the ‘http://‘ prefix.

Step 3: Setting the policies in the Local Group Policy Editor

Open the ‘run’ dialog by typing  Windows + R and type the command ‘gpedit.msc‘ and hit enter to open the Local Group Policy Editor:

Find the MSEdge policy templates and open them. The following screenshot (in Dutch) show you where they can be found, and you can click the image to enlarge it. I have also outlined in red the policies we have to set. The screens are in Dutch, but the top one says something like: “Configure Internet Explorer integration”, and the second: “Configure Enterprise sitelist”:

So we’ll have to set the IE-mode policy in general, which tells the IE-mode how to behave. First set the top-left radio-button to ‘enabled’ and then choose the behaviour. ‘Geen’ (means ‘none’) and actually blocks setting the flag in our first option. ‘Internet Explorer 11’ option will open the old IE11 browser and (the one we’re after) ‘Internet Explorer mode’ opens sites in an Edge tab with IE11 rendering:

Finally we have to set the ‘Configure Enterprise sitelist’ option. First set the top left radio-button to ‘enabled’ and then in the window below set the exact path (I have greyed out mine here) of where the sitelist can be found (that path must include the exact filename and extension of the sitelist as well of course). Make sure you have put the sitelist.xml file in a place where you don’t easily delete it 😉 :

You can close the Local Group Policy Editor now and for all changes to take effect, you have to close all Edge instances and I would also recommend a reboot of your computer (not required, but it may help).

You can check if Edge policies are being loaded correctly by typing this flag in the Edge address bar: ‘edge://policy‘ where something like this should show up now:

 

Well, that’s it and I hope you enjoy using Edge as one single browser to handle ALL of your needs 🙂

You can find the full Microsoft Documentation here.