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Kiosk Mode in Internet Explorer 5

04/27/2001

Internet Explorer 5 for Mac OS is designed as a general-purpose web browser, but some people like to use it for product demonstrations, trade show exhibits, or as an interactive Internet kiosk. The trouble with doing that is it leaves your Mac vulnerable to passersby trashing files, changing control panel settings, and otherwise wreaking havoc.

To prevent this, you need to set up IE 5 to open your kiosk page and disable all commands that allow changing the machine's Internet configuration. We will create a hacked version of the IE 5 application to achieve this goal.

Creating kiosk favorites

First, open the Explorer folder in the Preferences folder in your System folder. Select the Favorites.html file and choose "Duplicate" from the File menu. This file stores all your Internet Explorer Favorites.

Since you need to change your existing Favorites, you first should duplicate the old ones so that you can revert to them when you're not in kiosk mode.

The way I revert to my previous favorites is by opening this folder again, moving or renaming the current Favorites.html file, and removing the "copy" name from the old file.

Now launch Internet Explorer and set the preferences to the desired appearance you want for your kiosk. Typically you would make your intro page the home page and check the "Automatically go to this home page when opening a new window" preference.

Then navigate to each of the pages you want to be available from this new Favorites menu and choose "Add Page to Favorites". When you've done this, choose "Organize Favorites" and set up your Favorites menu and tool bar by adding folders and dividers, and deleting any favorites you don't want made available.

If you will be using local files exclusively and not loading pages from the Internet, select the "Work Offline" command from the File menu. If you want to prevent users from viewing past pages, set the history in the Advanced preferences panel to zero pages. If you want to prevent users from accessing other internet applications, uncheck the appropriate helpers in the Protocol Helpers preference. Quit IE when you're done.

Hacking the application

Next, open the Internet Explorer 5 folder in your Internet or Microsoft Internet 5 folder, and duplicate the Internet Explorer 5 application. You should always make a duplicate of any file you are going to hack; this leaves a version of the application that works normally and allows you to revert to the original version if you make a mistake. Once you have made the duplicate application, change its name to "IE Kiosk" in Finder.

Now we will change the menu commands in the IE Kiosk application. To do this, we need a resource editing application like ResEdit or Resourcerer. ResEdit is available at many software archives, including versiontracker.com, and is invaluable for any serious Mac OS hacking. The following descriptions assume you are using ResEdit, but the same features are available from other resource editors.

Drag the IE Kiosk application to the ResEdit icon, or launch ResEdit and open IE Kiosk from the File menu. Choose "Get Info for IE Kiosk" from the File menu, and uncheck the "Has BNDL" checkbox in the Info window. If you don't do this, double-clicking an HTML file will open it in your kiosk application instead of IE.

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