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Repair the 'Branding' Changes
ISP Software Wreaks on Your PC

Customize your title bar text and animated logos, or just make 'em normal again.

By Scot Finnie

  • Fix Internet Explorer's Title Bar Text
  • Fix Outlook Express's Title Bar Text
  • Fix IE's and OE's Animated Logos

    Try out some new ISP's software to see whether you're going to like it, and you may get bitten by an innocuous but annoying bug. The ISP's software installed branded text in the Internet Explorer and Outlook Express title bars. And when you uninstall the software, these changes are left behind!

    The simple truth is, that sort of behavior is unacceptable. No program should leave behind its branding on uninstall. And all programs should be fully uninstallable. But I'll save that tirade for another time. Right now, I want to give you the help you need to fix this problem.

    More than likely, your browser's home page has been changed. You may also find custom URL icons for your ISP's site on IE's "Links" toolbar. And there may be new folders of sites loaded into your Favorites. You can take care of those things with ease. Here's how to fix your IE and OE titlebars, and their revolving logos.

    Fix Internet Explorer's Title Bar Text

    This tip was derived from a request for help by reader Gary Kauffman, who uninstalled ISP software only to discover that the ISP's name remained in Internet Explorer 5.0's title bar. If this happens to you, or if you want to customize the text in the title bar, perhaps so it doesn't say "Microsoft Internet Explorer," for example, follow these easy steps. This tip requires Registry editing, so back up your System Registry files first (USER.DAT and SYSTEM.DAT in your Windows folder).

    Open System Registry Editor and navigate to first this key:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main

    then this key:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main

    At each location, double-click the "Window Title" item on RegEdit's right pane. Edit the "Value data" field to show the text your prefer. If you delete everything in the field, you should get Internet Explorer's original title bar text, which is "Microsoft Internet Explorer." (Note: You may not find a modified Window Title item in both Registry locations.)

    If you didn't find the a "Window Title" item in either Registry location, you can add one in the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE section. Click once on the Main folder to select it. Then right-click the white background anywhere on the right pane, and choose New > String Value. Name the new string value icon "Window Title" and press Enter. Now double-click it and type the text you'd like to appear in Internet Explorer's Title bar. This also works in IE versions, IE 4.0 and above.

    Some Win Insider readers have reported that a file ending in .INS was controlling the title bar text on their PCs. If you strike out with other methods, do a search of your whole drive for .INS files. Open them with a text editor, and see if you find such a file, look for a line in it that reads "Window_Title=" or something to that effect. Try changing the words that follow if they match up with what you see in your browser's title bar.

    Fix Outlook Express's Title Bar Text

    Clearing up the problem in Outlook Express story is similar, but not quite the same. Using System Registry Editor, you'll find the location for changing Outlook Express's title bar text by starting:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities\{Unique-User-ID}\Software\Microsoft\Outlook Express\5.0

    Where you see {Unique-User-ID} above, you should instead find a user ID number that looks something like this:


    Let me explain. Two things complicate matters at this point: 1. You can control the OE 5.0 title bar text separately for each OE 5.0 Identity. 2. Each OE 5.0 Identity gets its own unique user ID number. What's more, no two Windows installations have the same user ID numbers (theoretically). If you have multiple OE identities configured, you'll find multiple user ID entries. If you've never created a new OE Identity, then you'll find just one.

    With the \5.0 key selected on the left pane of RegEdit, look for the "WindowTitle" entry on the right pane, and double-click it to change your title-bar text. If you don't find the WindowTitle entry, right-click the left pane's background, and choose New > String Value. Name the new icon "WindowTitle" (without the character space between the two words used on the corresponding icon for Internet Explorer). Press Enter, then double-click it and type the new title-bar text. The default is "Outlook Express." If you have multiple user IDs, repeat for each ID.

    As with Internet Explorer, some readers report that their OE 5.0 title-bar text was controlled by an .INS file, so if you strike out, follow the same steps outlined above at the end of the Internet Explorer section.

    Fix Internet Explorer's and Outlook Express's Animated Logos

    So, how do you remove the bitmaps that replace IE's revolving logo in the upper right corner of the browser window? Start by shutting down all browser instances and Outlook Express.

    Open the System Registry Editor: Click the Start button > Run > type REGEDIT > and press Enter.

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Toolbar

    Delete the items: "BrandBitmap" and "SmBrandBitmap." If you find the items "BigBitmap" and "SmallBitmap," delete them as well.

    Then navigate to this location in Registry:

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Main

    Delete these items: "BigBitmap" and "SmallBitmap."

    Close RegEdit and launch the browser. Everything should be back to normal.