Browser Helper Object

Definition of Browser Helper Object

A Browser Helper Object (BHO) is a plug-in or extension for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser. It enhances the browser’s functionality by providing additional features or toolbars. However, some BHOs can be malicious or track user activities, posing security and privacy risks.


Browser Helper Object in phonetics: /ˈbraʊzər ˈhɛlpər ˈɒbdʒɪkt/

Key Takeaways

  1. Browser Helper Object (BHO) is a DLL module designed to enhance the capabilities of Internet Explorer by extending its features or automating tasks.
  2. BHOs can be helpful, but may also be utilized by malicious software, posing security risks to the user’s system and personal information.
  3. Managing BHOs, including disabling, enabling, or completely removing them, can be done via third-party tools or manually in the Windows Registry.

Importance of Browser Helper Object

The term Browser Helper Object (BHO) is important in technology because it refers to a plugin or extension for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser, designed to enhance its functionality and enable additional features.

BHOs are typically developed by third-party developers and can offer various services, such as toolbars, ad-blockers, or web accelerators, that improve users’ browsing experience.

However, the importance of BHOs is two-fold, as they can also pose security risks due to their deep integration with the browser and potential for unscrupulous developers to create malicious BHOs.

Thus, understanding BHOs is crucial for ensuring a safe browsing environment while capitalizing on added functionalities.


Browser Helper Objects, commonly referred to as BHOs, serve the primary purpose of extending the functionality and features of a web browser. These small software components were specifically designed for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, serving as plug-ins that interact with and enhance the browsing experience.

BHOs provide added value to users in the form of convenient toolbars, pop-up blockers, or custom browsing features such as quick access to search engines or Internet security utilities. These add-ons enable users to have a more personalized and efficient web browsing experience catered to their individual needs and preferences.

On the flip side, it is crucial to be cautious when using Browser Helper Objects, as they also have the potential to be exploited by malicious software. Some BHOs can surreptitiously install themselves onto a user’s computer, leading to privacy invasion, undesired modifications to browser behavior, or even spreading malware.

As a result, users should carefully assess the sources and reviews of BHOs they plan to install to ensure their provenance and quality. In recent years, other browser developers have introduced their versions of extensions, plugins, or add-ons, which offer similar functionalities in a more controlled and secure environment, allowing users to continue customizing their browsing experiences with added peace of mind.

Examples of Browser Helper Object

Adobe PDF Reader – Adobe’s PDF Reader is a popular BHO that allows users to view PDF documents directly within the Internet Explorer browser. When a user opens a PDF file using Internet Explorer, Adobe’s BHO is automatically loaded into the browser, providing a seamless experience for viewing and interacting with PDF files.

LastPass – LastPass is a password manager that uses a BHO to automatically fill in your usernames and passwords for various websites. When you navigate to a website that requires a username/password, the LastPass BHO auto-fills the credentials for you, making it more convenient and secure to manage and access your online accounts.

Google Toolbar – The Google Toolbar is a BHO that adds various features to Internet Explorer, such as a search box, instant access to Google services like Gmail, and translation tools. Google Toolbar integrates these tools directly into the browser’s interface, making it more convenient for users to access and use Google’s services as they browse the web.

FAQ: Browser Helper Object

What is a Browser Helper Object?

A Browser Helper Object (BHO) is a DLL module designed as a plugin for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser to provide added functionality. BHOs were introduced in Internet Explorer 4 to enhance the web browser’s capabilities. These objects run in the same memory context as a browser and can perform various actions on available windows and modules in response to browser events.

What are the main uses of Browser Helper Objects?

Browser Helper Objects are used to add various functionalities to the browser such as:

  • Modifying or enhancing the browser’s interface
  • Handling and blocking pop-up windows
  • Search functionality
  • Providing additional browsing tools, such as toolbars
  • Tracking user activity and personalization

Are Browser Helper Objects safe?

While many Browser Helper Objects are created and used for legitimate purposes, they can also be exploited by malicious software. Some BHOs are spyware or adware, designed to compromise the user’s privacy and security. To minimize risks, it is important to keep your browser, operating system, and antivirus software up to date, and only install trusted BHOs from reputable sources.

How do I manage Browser Helper Objects in Internet Explorer?

To manage or remove Browser Helper Objects in Internet Explorer, follow these steps:

  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Click on the “Tools” menu or the gear icon, then select “Manage Add-ons.”
  3. In the “Show” dropdown menu, select “All Add-ons.”
  4. Find the BHO you want to manage in the list.
  5. If you want to disable the BHO, click on it and select “Disable.”
  6. If you want to remove the BHO, click on it and select “Remove” (if the option is available).
  7. Close the “Manage add-ons” window and restart your browser for the changes to take effect.

Do other browsers use Browser Helper Objects?

Browser Helper Objects are specific to Internet Explorer. Other browsers, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari, use different technologies for browser plugins and extensions. These technologies may include NPAPI plugins, browser extensions, or add-ons, which are designed to provide similar functionalities to BHOs in Internet Explorer.

Related Technology Terms

  • Internet Explorer Extensions
  • Browser Plugins
  • ActiveX Controls
  • Browser Toolbar
  • Web Interaction

Sources for More Information


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