Internet Explorer 11's Reading View is pretty good, when it works

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 5, 2014
Updated • Mar 5, 2014
Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 11 is certainly a step up from previous versions of the web browser. And while some argue that it is still lacking behind in many regards, it is generally seen as the best version of the default Windows browser yet.

If you happen to run the Windows 8 operating system, you know that there are two versions of Internet Explorer 11 available on the system. The regular desktop version of the browser that functions like all other browser versions before it, and the modern app version of Internet Explorer that runs in full screen on the Start Screen interface.

The Start Screen version of IE 11 is inherently different from the desktop version. While both share features, such as the core rendering engine, web standards support or security policies, other features are only available in one of the two versions.

Reading View, a readability mode for Internet Explorer, is for instance only available in the Internet Explorer app version.

While that limits its use somewhat, it is an excellent tool if you prefer to read articles on the web without the noise surrounding them most of the time.

Here is a screenshot of our Sandboxie Review in Reading View Mode.

reading view internet explorer-11

As you can see, it filters headers, sidebars, advertisement, and other objects that are not related to the article itself. The article itself and contents associated with it such as images, are displayed in an optimized fashion.

Reading View uses a new font that Microsoft created for the Windows 8 operating system called Sitka.. In addition to that, it is also changing the background and various other colors on the site to improve the overall readability.

You may also notice that line heights, paragraphs, and other elements that divide contents may be altered to improve the readability further.

If you open an article that is divided on several pages, you will notice that all of the article's contents are displayed on a single page in reading view.

You can modify basic settings by pressing Windows-C to open the Charms Bar, and selecting Settings from it and then Options.

The two options made available here are to switch to another style, and to change the default font size. The styles available are:

  • Beige background with black text (default).
  • Gray background with black text.
  • White background with black text.
  • Black background with white text.

The default font size is medium, which you can change to small to decrease the font size, or to large or extra large to increase it.

dark readability large font

Loading Reading View

To load an article in Reading View, you can either click on the reading view icon in the address bar, or use Ctrl-Shift-R shortcut to load it manually.

Note that the icon acts as an indicator whether the mode works on the page you are on or not. It should work on the majority of article pages, but won't work on pages where no main article can be identified.


The main criticism that I have is that Reading View is only available if you run Metro IE11, and not on the desktop version of the browser. It is also not working on all web pages, but only select ones.


Third-party programs such as Readability offer a similar functionality but work in every browser on all operating systems. Browser extensions such as Text Mode for Chrome or Tranquility for Firefox are also available.


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