What Browsers Support ActiveX?

By Erin McManaway

ActiveX is Microsoft proprietary software that allows your Internet browser to display and interact with certain documents and websites. Sometimes, ActiveX will be required before a user can view any part of a website or document; other times, it may be required to launch only certain functions or sections of a website. Because ActiveX is developed only by Microsoft, only Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser can fully support ActiveX. However, other browsers have created their own methods of displaying website and documents that require ActiveX.

Internet Explorer

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is the only browser that fully supports ActiveX controls and plug-ins. When you navigate to a website or document that requires a new ActiveX control, you will see an alert appear at the top of your webpage, under the browser’s toolbar. By clicking this alert, you can view information about the ActiveX controller that you will need and allow Internet Explorer to download the plug-in. Internet Explorer will retain the ActiveX control any time you return to that site or document, or attempt to view a document that requires the same plug-in.

Firefox

Mozilla’s Firefox browser is a popular alternative to Internet Explorer. Since it is not developed by Microsoft, it does not fully support Microsoft’s ActiveX controls. However, Firefox developers often create new plug-ins that users can install to help support features required by websites and documents that would usually require ActiveX controls. If you run across a website that uses ActiveX that appears broken in the Firefox browser, you can report it to the development team by clicking on “Help” and “Report Broken Web Site” from your toolbar. You can also download the “Esker ActiveX Plug-in” from the Firefox add-on that attempts to imitate ActiveX controls on the Firefox browser. This is an experimental add-on that must be kept up to date with your version of Firefox.

Google Chrome

Google’s Chrome browser is a newer alternative to Internet Explorer and Firefox. Like Firefox, Chrome does not support ActiveX natively, and uses Netscape Plugin Application Programming Interface (NPAPI) to view and interact with sites that require the controls. Because it is a newer browser, the add-ons and extensions that help support ActiveX controls may still be in development. If you find a website or document that requires Active X controls that Chrome cannot access, you can report the situation by visiting Google’s Known Issues website and clicking the button under “The ActiveX plugin isn't working” link. This may alert developers to your specific needs and help them develop add-ins to support specific browsing issues.