What Is Caret Browsing on Microsoft Internet Explorer?

by Laurel Storm

Like most people, you probably browse the Internet primarily using your mouse, switching to your keyboard only when you need to type something. Likewise, selecting text is done by clicking and dragging with the mouse. Although this works quite well, you might find yourself wishing for more fine-grained control when selecting text, especially if you're stuck using a laptop touchpad rather than a mouse. You can get this by activating caret browsing, a special mode in Internet Explorer.

Enabling Caret Browsing

Caret browsing is not enabled by default in Internet Explorer -- rather, you need to enable it manually. Press "F7" and, if prompted, click "Yes"; you can also click "Tools," hover over "File" and click "Caret Browsing." If you want caret browsing to be enabled automatically for all windows and tabs you open, click "Tools" and select "Internet Options." Select the "Advanced" tab, activate the "Enable Caret Browsing for New Windows and Tabs" check box found under the Accessibility heading and click "OK."


When caret browsing is enabled, click anywhere on the page to place a caret -- also known as a text cursor -- in that location. You can then use various keys on your keyboard, including "Home," "End," "Page Up", "Page Down" and the arrow keys to move the caret around the page. To select text, hold the "Shift" key and move the caret; you can then copy it with the usual "Ctrl-C" keyboard shortcut.

Opening Links

When the caret reaches a link, the link becomes active and highlighted with a dotted border. Press "Enter" to open it in the same tab, "Shift-Enter" to open it in a new window, "Ctrl-Enter" to open it in a new background tab and "Ctrl-Shift-Enter" to open it in a new foreground tab. Alternatively, since enabling caret browsing doesn't deactivate the mouse, you can open links using your mouse as usual.

Disabling Caret Browsing

To disable caret browsing on a specific tab or window, press "F7." To disable the feature for all tabs and windows, click "Tools," select "Internet Options," clear the "Enable Caret Browsing for New Windows and Tabs" check box and click "OK." Any windows and tabs you already had open will still have caret browsing enabled, so you will need to switch to each and press "F7" to disable it.


Information in this article applies to Internet Explorer 10. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions.

About the Author

Laurel Storm has been writing since 2001, and helping people with technology for far longer than that. Some of her articles have been published in "Messaggero dei Ragazzi", an Italian magazine for teenagers. She holds a Master of Arts in writing for television and new media from the University of Turin.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images