If you are working in an environment where some websites or services are only accessible in Microsoft's Internet Explorer, but work with Firefox as your main browser, you have basically two options to access those sites: you can obviously fire up Internet Explorer on your system to load those services and sites in the browser directly, or, you can integrate Internet Explorer's rendering engine right into the Firefox web browser.
Fire IE is a relatively new extension that offers a comfortable option to integrate Internet Explorer's rendering engine into the Firefox web browser.
Once you have installed the extension in Firefox you will notice a new icon at the right of Firefox's address bar that acts as an indicator of the rendering engine used for the page, and as a control to switch engines and access the extension's options.
To switch engines, you simply left-click on the icon to do so. When you do, the page gets reloaded with no noticeable delay other than the time it takes to reload the page contents.
Before you start using the extension to switch to Internet Explorer's rendering engine, you may want to take a look at the options the extension provides. You may for instance want to change to another rendering engine available. On my test system, Internet Explorer 7 was selected by default, and switching to Internet Explorer 9 really improved compatibility and performance.
If you prefer, you can also hide the icon in the browser's address bar and use the Alt-c shortcut to switch rendering engines instead. Alternatively, you can also define rules to automatically load select sites and services with the IE rendering engine.
Fire IE supports both rule subscriptions and custom rules. The browser ships with a default set of rules, which you may want to disable, especially in environments where you need full control over the feature. Custom uses make use of regular expressions. At the very basic level, you can simply enter a web address that you always want to load using Internet Explorer's rendering engine.
Fire IE makes sure that cookies are automatically synchronized when rendering engines are switches in Firefox. Most keyboard shortcuts that you are familiar with will continue to work when the engine is switched.
If you are looking for an extension that has been in development for a longer period of time, you should take a look at IE Tab Plus instead.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.