Display Internet Explorer 9 Menu Bar Always, And On Top

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 20, 2010
Updated • Dec 25, 2012
Internet Explorer

Browser developers all seem to have found that a new minimalism design wise works best for their browsers. The menu elements are reduced throughout the bank, which leads to criticism of users who do not want to miss those items. Good developers make the changes optional, so that users have a choice. Bad ones force the changes upon the user, with no option to go back.

Internet Explorer 9 Beta has several of those changes. One of them is that the menu bar is hidden by default. The menu bar contains the File, Edit, View, Favorites, Tools and Help menu items which have been part of the Internet Explorer ever since it was introduced.

Thankfully though, there is an option to display the bar temporarily by pressing the Alt key on the computer keyboard.

internet explorer 9 menu
internet explorer 9 menu

The menu bar that is displayed this way is only temporarily visible (it disappears after the next click or if the browser window is out of focus) and below the other header controls.

In Internet Explorer 8 and earlier, it was always visible and on top of all controls in the header.

There is no option in the browser to change the appearance of the menu bar. Options are available on the other hand in the Windows Registry.

Making the menu bar visible all the time in IE9

If you are working a lot with the menu bar, then you may want to speed that up a little. Instead of having to press ALT every time a menu bar item needs to be selected, it may be better to always display it instead in the header.

Open the Windows Registry editor with the keyboard shortcut Windows-R, typing regedit and enter on the keyboard.

Navigate to the following Registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Internet Explorer

If Internet Explorer does not exist, create it by right-clicking on Microsoft and selecting New > Key from the context menu. Name that key Internet Explorer.

Now perform the same operation on Internet Explorer. Right-click the Registry key and select New > Key from the menu. Name that key Main.

Now right-click on the Main key and select New > Dword (32-Bit) Value and name it AlwaysShowMenus. Finally, double-click on the new parameter and set its value to 1. Setting it to 1 makes the menu bar in Internet Explorer 9 visible all the time. To revert the change, set it to 0 at anytime.

ie9 alwaysshowmenus
ie9 alwaysshowmenus

The change takes effect on the next start of the operating system. It is alternatively possible to kill the explorer.exe process and start it again in the Task Manager.

The change was immediately visible in the 32-bit version of Internet Explorer 9. In the 64-bit version we had to press Alt once to display the bar. From that moment on it stayed visible.

How to move the Menu Bar to the top

With the previous tweak, the menu bar is shown all the time. It still sits below other browser controls in the header. If you want to move it to the top of the browser, do the following:

Locate the Windows Registry key

KEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Toolbar\WebBrowser

Right-click that key and select New > Dword (32-bit) Value from the context menu. Name the new parameter ITBar7Position and give it the value 1.

Both Toolbar and WebBrowser did not exist on our Windows 7 Professional test system. Simply right-click on the parent key and select New > Key to create them.

menu on top
menu on top

The changes once again become visible on the restart of the browser.

To revert the change, set the value of the parameter to 0.

Microsoft definitely should have made it easier for users to change the location of items in the Internet Explorer 9 header. It is simply not understandable why they did not add an option to drag and drop items around, and display them using the right-click menu or the options of the Internet browser. Yes, some options are available but those are not sufficient, at least not for us power users.

What's your take on this?


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  1. Nick said on May 16, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Unfortunately, this doesn’t work on IE9. The menu bar is still on the bottom. Has anyone come up with a way to move it to the top?

  2. Charles said on June 26, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    Regedit didn’t work for IE9. Definitely works for IE8. Maybe I should’ve upgraded from IE8 to IE9.

  3. johny said on May 26, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Menu bar is on top only until the history bar is opened.
    That is for Internet Explorer 9 and also Internet Explorer 8.
    Tryied various combinations, and the results are the same.

  4. Cheri said on February 25, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    This is a hideous view, If you are not a computer ‘geek’ this untenable
    Really, I need my menu bar back to click favorites bar for use at work all day. I run several tabs back and forth and need to see the menu bar.
    What a disappointment

  5. John said on March 27, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Does anyone know what the point of the “Lock the toolbars” option is?

    If you uncheck it, you get the dotty handles, but you still can’t move the frickin’ things. In previous versions you could have the toolbar and the menu bar on the same row. Not any more!

    Bye bye, toolbar – you just take up too much space.

  6. Andrea said on March 22, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Just want to “thank” everyone for the and the Rt-click over the toolbar. I spent hours trying to fix and now I’ve passed on to 2 others who were not aware. I used these fixes on non-beta I.E.9 version 9.08112.16421. They worked on the Internet Explorer 9’s that I found. I just don’t like registry tweaks, plus, they require administrative permissions.

    Thanks again!

  7. Pat said on March 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks so much for the information to fix this. Your are right, it should be simplier and not so time consuming to change something so basic. I’m disappointed that Microsoft is not better in tune with their users.

    1. MrBillz said on March 2, 2012 at 8:11 pm

      Except that, as noted, it does not seem to work in the final release. They wonder why they are losing market share.

      1. Andrea said on March 22, 2012 at 12:28 am

        Once you get your Menu bar up using a rt-click over the toolbar, go into View, Toolbars, unlock the toolbar by removing the check, make your changes and then go back in View, Toolbars and re-lock your toobar. The “Lock the toolbars” is the default.

        Good Luck!

  8. MrBillz said on February 27, 2012 at 2:14 am

    I notice that the last entry in this thread is December 26, 2011. Is there any way or tweak to get the menu bar above the tabs? If not, what forum can one voice their displeasure to Microsoft. I hate it when you upgrade and lose features that you like. Makes no sense at all.

  9. clipper said on December 26, 2011 at 12:18 am

    hehe that was cool, many thanks

    i almost feel clever….

  10. Ray said on October 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm


    Is there a registry tweak that would put the Favorites bar above the address bar as well? If I recall, this is the way IE5 was laid out.

    Thanks for your help!

  11. Anonymous said on August 15, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Awesome! Thanks for the fix!

  12. Anonymous said on July 4, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Thank you very much. I could not find the file menu and did not understand what was going on. You helped me out a lot!

  13. Linda Lee said on May 13, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    So frustrated I used the tweak to ge the menu on top, but it does not work.
    I see you noted in the final release it did not work, but why won’t they let me move it, I hate this.

  14. yahoo store developer said on April 21, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    great post and comments.
    i was certain that my install of IE 9 was flawed but you resolved my concern.
    seems a bit arrogant of microsoft to not display the menu by default and allow us the option of hiding it if we choose.

  15. Joe said on April 7, 2011 at 6:20 am

    I found that once I clicked on ALT to get the menu bar, then I clicked on View and then , Toolbars, then Menu Bar , it stays on.

    Don’t know how long it will last, but I turned off IE 9 and restarted, and the Menu bar is still there.

  16. Dave in b'more said on March 29, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    There’s an easier way. Hold down the “alt” key to display temporarily. The, from the “View” menu, select “Tool Bars” and check “Menu Bar”. Now the menu bar will always be there.

    1. MojaveMike said on April 12, 2011 at 3:14 pm

      Or Right-Click on the toolbar area (instead of pressing ALT) and select Menu Bar. Two mouse clicks seem a bit easier than editing the registry.

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on April 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm

        As I said about a 1000 times, the option is not there in my installation of Internet Explorer 9. I HAD to edit the Registry to display the menu. But I agree of course that you should check with a right-click if it is there, and if it is enable it that way.

  17. Aussie_Z said on March 19, 2011 at 2:18 am

    Thanks for instructions. I concur with Rick (March 16) These changes to the registry and/or using the gorup policy editor do not seem to change anythin in the released version. I run on Windows Pro 64 bit. This included running regedit as an administrator. I tried a restart but it still didn’t work. I concur with the other commenters that we really need a customizable interface. Locking down the toolbars is not a good idea.

  18. Kari said on March 16, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    There has to new reg key for that, but since then, I’ll keep using firefox. IE 7, 8, 9 are all annoying me too much.

    What is the matter with them, why do they keep making interfaces crappy and try to be faster than yesterday. I’m good with the speed what we have, I just want everything to be nice to use.
    Right?!?!? Right…?


    1. Martin Brinkmann said on March 16, 2011 at 11:19 pm

      It is usually the experienced users that want customization.

      1. Anonymous said on March 16, 2011 at 11:37 pm

        Aren’t we all just that?

        What I expected also from IE9, was floating toolbars that could be placed left or right side, where web pages don’t have nothing but empty space, but no… They just don’t listen end users. Just like they are ruining Office and the base of the Windows, everythings just a big mess, and what about Windows explorer and the old good search function. Gone…


  19. Rick said on March 16, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    Menu bar on top tweak doesn’t work in released version.

  20. Mystique said on March 16, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    I also tried using Local Group Policy Editor to edit the menu bar settings and nothing changed either.
    I miss the search bar and hate the inferior tab bar which is just like chrome in that it compresses the size of each tab to a tiny little box with each new tab added, just like chrome it will look like rubbish and become impractical with many tabs open unlike firefox which can can easily be configured to a T to perform the way you want it.

    I also feel the back button looks as if it is overlapped by the tab bar (bottom cut off).

  21. Mystique said on March 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I also can’t get the menu bar to stay on the top above the tab bar (seriously who would seriously want it below the tab bar) I have also tried using TweakIE9 but it still won’t move to the top.

    This google chrome fantasy lookalike camp has to stop, not everyone thinks the chrome UI is great certainly not me.

  22. Kari said on March 15, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    I just installed the final version of IE9. Damn, I can’t get the menu bar to the top. Did they make some changes to the final? I double checked the registry key, it seems to be spelled right, and parameters correct…?? What next?!

  23. Michael said on November 21, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    How can I increase the number of typed URLS in the Address Bar drop down menu in MSIE 9 ?

    Currently that is set to a maximum of a poxy 5.

    Changing Auto Complete settings makes no difference by the way !


  24. xer said on October 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm


    There would be a possibility to stick also a favourites bar?


  25. devky said on September 29, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Amen, tinwheeler! I just discovered that I have to edit the registry to make my IE9 menu bar always visible. Ridiculous, but not surprising, coming from Microsoft. I wanted to uninstall IE9, but don’t know what will happen to my Favorites, cookies, etc. if I do that, so I feel I’m stuck with this inferior product.

  26. rvdmast said on September 21, 2010 at 7:59 am

    but…how is this new? iirc the menu bar was hidden and (if visible) placed below the address bar since IE7. This tweak to show the menu bar and move it to the top has been around since then.

    1. tuna said on September 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm

      IE6, 7 & 8 if it was not visible, you could click through r-c menu or internet options and select it to be visible. It would show up until it was manually changed again. Now…apparently not without a reg edit.

      Next thing you know they’ll be hiding the status bar as default ….errr… or something even more counterintuitive, like hiding the address bar in good ol’ Explorer….

  27. tuna said on September 20, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    A registry tweak required to show the menu bar permanently? I guess I should be happy it’s not more ribbon nonsense.

    Innovation for the sole purpose of staying relevant does not behoove anyone for long.

  28. Dennis said on September 20, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Thank you, this was my first concern. Over now.

  29. tinwheeler said on September 20, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Martin, I agree with Kalmly. Yesterday I uninstalled IE9 “Alpha” (sarcasm). I realize that beta versions have a few glitches, but the average person shouldn’t have to be a geek , able to hack the registry to run an OS once it’s in beta. It appears that MS & Firefox are in a upgrade war to the detriment of its users. You know that I’m an elder geek who believes in the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  30. kalmly said on September 20, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Great information. But, since I’m sticking with XP for as long as possible, I won’t need to be worrying about this particular IE change – speaking of forcing changes upon users. :)

    1. Tim said on March 28, 2014 at 10:30 pm

      Actually, it is very understandable. M$ wants to take as much control from the user as possible, so he/she cannot save or investigate webpages other than as a stupid consumer. That gives them the maximum control upon what they want you to watch and discover on the internet and minimizes the control you have on what’s going with their service and even your own files. Very bad for developers, and users with a bit more sophistication. Great news for advertizers, protectionists, luddites, and making the internet just like the old TV and cable…that worked out so well.

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