Classic ASP, Programming, Web Development

Internet Explorer Friendly Error Messages: Not So Friendly After All

If you are a programmer trying to debug an application, then the last thing you want to see is a so-called Friendly Error Message rather than what actually happened.

I personally don’t think that this has any benefit even to non-programmers since they still just see a confusing warning such as a HTTP 500 error code along with a generic explanation that something terrible has happened. As you can probably imagine, this is fairly confusing to everyone involved, but especially to a programmer trying to find out what is going wrong. On the plus side, it does encourage some security by hiding the open display of an application’s error codes. But relying on a n IE obfustication setting probably won’t stop any hacker interested in learning more about your system.

How to get rid of Friendly Error Messages

If you are a programming and are seeing generic error messages in IE rather than what is actually happening, then you will be happy to know that this can be changed by a simple switch in your Internet Explorer option settings. The location of the setting has not changed since IE 6 and remains the same in IE 8 and IE 9.

To disable “Friendly Error Messages”, you need to find the checkbox labelled Show Friendly HTTP Error Messages. You can find this as follows:

  1. Open an instance of Internet Explorer
  2. On the top menu bar locate the Tools menu item and expand this menu item
  3. In the expanded list of options click the option titled: Internet Options
  4. You will then see the Internet Options popup window along with tabs at the top.
  5. Click on the top right tab titled Advanced
  6. On the Advanced tab you will see a list of checkboxes organized under sections.
  7. Near the top of the list locate the section titled Browsing
  8. Scroll down to near the end of the Browsing section until you see the checkbox labelled Show friendly HTTP error messages
  9. Uncheck the checkbox for the error messages
  10. Click the Ok or the Apply button

Congratulations, you should now be able to run a Web application and see the correct error message output. Although this is quite a simple feature to adjust, if you don’t know about it, it can add significant time to tracking down application problems.


For some more information on the various error codes and HTTP error messages take a look at this article located at


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