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Why Doesn’t JavaScript Work in Internet Explorer?

written by: Karishma Sundaram•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 4/30/2010

A lot of functionality is added to webpages using JavaScript, therefore it can be frustrating when it does not work. There are many reasons as to why JavaScript does not work in Internet Explorer. This article looks at potential reasons and solutions.

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    Scripting Languages and Why They Don’t Always Work

    Dynamic web content JavaScript, VBScript or any other scripting language enables developers to add dynamic content to webpages. Dynamic content makes the webpage more interesting, and certainly has a lot more features than static content. Scripting languages are therefore used far and wide across Internet sites.

    There are two kinds of scripting languages: server-side scripting and client-side scripting. In the case of server-side scripting, the scripts are executed on the server and the resulting HTML is sent to the client’s machine. In the case of client-side scripting, the scripts are downloaded onto the client’s browser and executed there. There advantages and disadvantages to both systems, but client-side scripting is considered slightly more risky.

    Although scripts are not permitted to run outside the browser environment, their added functionality may be a security risk. Therefore most browsers have the option to turn off active scripting; or in some cases it is part of their security, like with Internet Explorer.

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    Enable Active Scripting

    The step-by-step process is as follows. If active scripting is disabled in the browser, it has to be enabled before JavaScript can execute within the browser. This is done simply by accessing the options menu and changing the settings accordingly.

    1. Open Internet Explorer.
    2. Under the ‘Tools’ drop-down menu, choose the ‘Internet Options’ menu item.
    3. Select the ‘Security’ tab, at the top of the window.
    4. At the bottom of the screen, there is ‘Custom Level...’ button. Clicking the button will open a window where the user can set options for the browser. Options include most dynamic scripting options, like JavaScript or ActiveX. The user can scroll down the list, and activate all the options that they want enabled or disabled. CAUTION: Enabling scripting may be a security risk if the computer is not protected in some way. Therefore this step must be done with circumspection.
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    Enabling Pop-Ups

    Pop-ups are usually annoying message boxes that keep appearing in the browser. More often than not, they contain spam content like advertisements. Internet Explorer has a pop-up blocker installed and active in the browser at all times, therefore most of the pop-ups are controlled.

    However, some websites use pop-ups as integral parts of their websites, as it is an easy way to create a smaller page temporarily, rather than lose focus from the current webpage. In these legitimate cases, it is possible to enable pop-ups to work in the browser. Although pop-ups are usually written with scripting languages, enabling active scripting will not override the pop-up blocker.

    The step-by-step process is as follows:

    1. Open Internet Explorer.
    2. Under the ‘Tools’ drop-down menu, hover over the ‘Pop-up Blocker’ menu item till the submenu opens. Click on ‘Pop-up Blocker Settings’ to open another window.
    3. The window allows the user to add all trusted websites, where pop-ups can be allowed. This can also be done while at the webpage, but it reloads the website altogether, and causes any unsaved information to be lost.