What You Need to Know to Install an ActiveX Control

Even though there are many kinds of ActiveX controls out there, learning how to install ActiveX is not that difficult. The following instructions show you how you can install it in Internet Explorer, as well as some facts about these devices.

Activex control

Step 1

Start by launching Internet Explorer and then going to the drop down menu called Tools. You will find this close to the top of the screen. Choose “Internet Options.”

Step 2

Choose the tab labeled “Security”. Click the button “Custom Level”.

Step 3

Now go to the ActiveX settings and chose “Enable”. “Script ActiveX controls marked safe for scripting”, “Run ActiveX controls and plug-ins” and “Binary and script behaviors.”

Step 4

Go to “Download signed ActiveX controls” and choose “Prompt”.

Step 5

Click OK.

Step 6

Go to the website that has the ActiveX controls you want to download. Look for the yellow bar that will pop up above your web browser. Now you just have to choose the option marked “install” and follow the prompts. This will vary depending on what kind of control you are installing.

Internet Explorer will now present you with an “install” prompt. Follow it and the other prompts that show up. After the installation process is complete, you should refresh Internet Explorer. The ActiveX control should now run.

What is ActiveX?

The term ActiveX refers to a software framework that was developed by Microsoft that is partly based on the Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) and Component Object Model (COM) technologies that they used. These technologies that you can now download form the Internet. ActiveX controls came out in 1996 and are often used in Windows operating systems.

These controls do not depend on the Windows operating system in principle. But in actual fact the majority of these controls need a Windows emulator or a Windows operating system. A lot of these controls also need Intel hardware since they have compiled code.

Also, many Windows applications like Windows Media Player, Visual Studio, Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer utilize these controls to make their feature set. They also use these controls for encapsulating their functions as these are embedded into other programs. Internet Explorer also lets you embed these controls in pages on the Internet. But it should be noted that not all ActiveX controls function in all web platforms.


The reason the controls came to be was that OLE 2.0 was too complex and there was little support for COM. This situation led to the development of ActiveX in 1996. Since some users still complained about its complexity Microsoft came up with C++ language extensions, macros, ATL base classes and wizards to simplify writing controls.

Microsoft began adding support for these controls in Internet Explorer 3. During this period Internet Explorer would automatically download the control and install it.

While this made for richer more interactive content, a lot of users complained about it because these controls only ran on Windows, not to mention the fact that this could lead to some security risks. However Microsoft has remedied the situation and several features are built in to ensure that no malicious controls enter your computer.

Now that you know how to install ActiveX, you can learn about the different types of ActiveX based technologies that Microsoft has been making. These include ActiveX Streaming Format (ASF), Active Scripting, Collaboration Data Objects, DirectShow and many others.

Julie is a free lancer writer of http://www.installactivex.org/


Leave a Comment