Internet Explorer Missing History

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 | Technical | Scott Randall

I experienced a strange problem recently where History within Internet Explorer 8 was missing on a Windows Vista 32-bit workstation — not the various websites visited, but the History option/dates entirely:

Internet Explorer Missing History

Internet Explorer Missing History

After much troubleshooting, it was determined that references to required shell extensions were missing from the DESKTOP.INI file located in the history folder.  This file is normally located at:


The DESKTOP.INI file is usually a hidden file, so the first step is turning on the ability to see hidden system files.  This can be accomplished by doing the following:

  1. Click once on the Windows Start button
  2. Click once on Computer located in the Windows Start menu
  3. Click once on the Organize button and select Folder, Search Options
  4. Click once on the View tab
  5. Check the “Show Hidden Files and Folders” checkbox
  6. Uncheck the “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” checkbox
  7. Click OK

The above steps will allow you to see the hidden DESKTOP.INI file.  Using Windows Explorer, navigate to and open the DESKTOP.INI file.  This can usually be accomplished by double-clicking the DESKTOP.INI file which will open the file in Notepad.  Once the DESKTOP.INI file has been opened, review the file and confirm that the following references are present within the contents:


If the above references are not present within the contents, copy and paste the above into the contents using the Windows Clipboard and then save and close the DESKTOP.INI file.  Once the DESKTOP.INI file has been updated and closed, log off and back on again.  When you open Internet Explorer, the history options will once again be available:

Internet Explorer With History

Internet Explorer With History

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