A Guide to Installing ActiveX

ActiveX controls provide added functionality to a host of Web based applications. Uncover the proper way of installing ActiveX and make the most of its features.

Before you can learn the ways of installing ActiveX, background knowledge will be essential. By being aware of what it actually does, you will have an idea of the potential benefits of having it.

Its Functions

In the most basic terms, ActiveX controls are programming tools. Their purpose is to help developers make more efficient Web based programs and applications. In a way you can visualize them as something similar to Java. By this we mean such common Net features like forums, videos and posting / editing online forms. Also included in their functions are looking at different file types and animation.

However, their functionality goes beyond that. When you have these tools in your computer, other processes also benefit. These are the programs that function in the background. While your main applications run, these components help background processes run properly as well.


When a program has finished installing ActiveX, several files are placed in the system. These are placed in the Windows or Windows\System folders. If you want to see them, right click the Start Menu and enter “*.ocx” in the search box. The resulting files are the components that make up these tools.

One of the most critical of these is the COM (Component Object Model). It is utilized in network systems to create programs that can function within this setting. The other modules perform other tasks. Most of them interact with the communication facilities of your (or the network’s) system. One of the reasons why they have become popular is their flexibility. Programmers can use Visual Basic, ATL, C++, MFC and more to program them.

Ways of Installing ActiveX

If you use Internet Explorer you already have the tools in your system, as they are installed with the browser. If you want to change the settings do the following.

Click Tools on the menu and select Internet Options. Click the button marked “security”. Choose “Custom Level…”. In the settings box, you will see several options. Study each option and click the appropriate buttons. When you are done, click OK and close all the windows to return to the main screen.

If you are using Mozilla or Netscape, you must download a plugin to get the components to work. It should be noted that installing ActiveX in the Firefox web browser is not possible right now.

While the components were developed for Windows, some Mac users may have it in their system. This is particularly true if you use video conferencing software. However there is no direct way to put these components in a Macintosh because they were designed for Windows. There are some emulators on the Net but it is unlikely that they are effective.

Although the information concerning these programming tools may seem complex, it should not bother a casual computer user. Most applications that utilize these parts will save you the trouble by installing ActiveX.

Even though you may not be aware of it, they perform vital functions and as technology progresses, their role in Windows and the Internet becomes more important.

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