This post has nothing to do with IE7‘s support for CSS, adherence to web standards, or general functionality. Instead, it’s a general complaint about one specific annoyance: why did Microsoft’s IE development team want IE7 to “click”?

I mean, as a marketing metaphor, it’s great. Everybody wants their product to “click”. However, in this case I think they’ve taken it a bit too literally.

The Problem

On installation, IE7 automatically turns on the Windows Explorer click sound – this effect a wide variety of actions, particularly including opening folders and clicking on links. Believe it or not, these are activities I do a lot – but I like them silent.

One of the first things I always do with a new computer is turn off all of the default sounds. So why does IE7 think that upgrading Internet Explorer also means I’ve changed my normal preferences about sounds?

I have trouble thinking of many reasons this would be done which make any serious sense:

  1. It’s a bug. Somehow, all the bug testers have their sounds turned on and nobody ever noticed this. Alternately, it actually occurs very rarely – but somehow has occurred to me on all three of my computers every single time I’ve installed it, with every beta version or release candidate I’ve looked at.
  2. It’s a feature. IE7 comes with a BRAND NEW Windows Explorer click sounds, and they want to make sure everybody gets to hear it.
  3. It’s a feature. They’re concerned that some users may not notice that they’ve clicked on links in web pages unless they receive an aural notification. (This is, of course, true – however, those users undoubtedly are using screen readers anyhow.)
  4. It’s not really happening. It’s entirely in my imagination, since I’m obviously searching for excuses to be upset with Microsoft.

The most probable of these is that it’s actually a rare bug – but given the number of times it’s happened to me, I’m personally disinclined to consider that. The idea that the development would intentionally program some “feature” in IE7 which actively alters a user’s settings, however, is sounding quite likely. But why?

The Solution

Assuming that you haven’t been won over by IE7′s fabulous clicking sound, you may want to turn it off. Well, actually this is exceptionally simple – it’s just silly that you have to do it at all.

On Windows XP SP2:

  1. Control Panel →
  2. Sounds and Audio Devices →
  3. Sounds →
  4. Select “Start Navigation” in the Program Events selection area →
  5. Select your sound of choice (“None”, for example) from the drop down menu below. →
  6. Click “OK”

If you like the “No Sounds” option, like me, you can do this more quickly. You’ll just want to switch your Sound scheme to the default setting briefly, then switch it back to “No Sounds”. That’ll turn everything on and off – kind of like a cold reboot for your sound scheme.