IE’s mysterious status bar

I don’t normally use IE, so when I was taking a look at something in it, I suddenly noticed how many mysterious unnamed panels the status bar has.

IE6 status bar

A little tinkering identified some of them. Others remain a mystery. Left to right (this is IE6, and may differ according to what add-ons you have installed):

  • Main part of the status bar. Shows the URL you’re about to jump to, or “Done” when it thinks it’s finished loading a page (though sometimes it hasn’t really), or nothing. Fair enough.
  • Progress bar, only appears when loading a page
  • Unknown
  • Single left click gives me access to the MSN toolbar popup blocker settings
  • Double-clicking takes me to a dialogue to manage add-ons
  • Unknown
  • Double-clicking gives me information on the Security certificate, if the page has one. On a secure page, you get a padlock icon here.
  • Icon and text indicating the page’s zone. Double-clicking takes you to the Security options

Maybe someone can reveal what the two blank unknown panels are for. But it strikes me as pretty silly that these are here, blank, with no clues given. No tooltips when hovering, and no response when left-clicking, left double-clicking or right-clicking. Why bother having them?

Even those that do respond shouldn’t be blank, not if the designers intend people to actually use them. Why would you bother clicking around a blank panel? Are we supposed to use our sixth sense to work out what they do?

2 thoughts on “IE’s mysterious status bar

  1. Titel

    This part of the status bar provides quick access to several dialogs and notifications for specific events. The 5 fields between the progress bar and the zone setting are, from left to right, for: ActiveX controls, pop-up windows, add-on management, privacy (such as third party cookies), and page encryption (SSL). I have not yet seen the first icon showing up, but I rarely use IE anyway. However, the privacy icon does show up on some sites loading content from third party sites (like ads in iframes), as I have set IE to block third party cookies: Tools menu > Internet Options menu entry > Privacy tab > Advanced button > checked “Override automatic cookie handling”, selected “First-party cookies: Allow” and “Third-party cookies: Block.” My guess is that one needs to interact with these fields only when an icon appears there, indicating a warning or notification for blocked content, for instance; that’s when clicking and double-clicking makes sense to reach the appropriate setting for unblocking or customizing the filter. Otherwise the blank space is like a “nothing to report” message, and an icon would only unnecessarily distract attention.

  2. daniel Post author


    But some kind of feedback, anything, would be useful, to tell you what these things do. It doesn’t have to be blatant, it doesn’t have to light up when you don’t need it, but a tooltip or a prompt when you click/double-click would be good.

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