Internet Explorer and Compatibility View

We’ve recently run in to some issues with clients’ new websites regarding how the site renders in IE with the Compatibility View feature enabled (by the user in their browser). In the latest case, our client was using Compatibility View internally to view third party sites (older sites) that they needed to access on a regular basis. However, when they went to view the new website we built for them, Compatibility View rendered our new design broken in some areas. Here is some information we shared with our clients that hopefully helped to explain the situation, and solve the quandry:

If compatibility mode is enabled by the user, there may be some issues as it will force the site to render as if it were using IE8/IE7. Google has instructions on how to prevent this from happening (see below) but this is a user setting and not something we as developers can control and, as you know, we no longer support IE7/8 (nor does Microsoft, and Google does not support IE7/8 with their products either).

Occasionally, the following meta tag will correct the issue by forcing IE to render the site in the latest version of IE but you may want to ensure that compatibility mode is disabled and that you have cleared cache. So we’ve added the following meta tag to your site as a precaution, but we don’t expect this to resolve the issue if someone manually chooses compatibility mode to be enabled.

Meta Tag we put on the site:

<meta http-equiv=²X-UA-Compatible² content=²IE=edge² />

Additionally, according to the info below, the proper way of implementing “compatibility view” is to go into the Internet Explorer “Tools” menu, click “Compatibility View Settings” and then add a list of site URLs which you wish to be viewed in Compatibility Mode.  Then what happens is, when the user goes to a site on that list, Compatibility View is turned “on”, but then it goes off again when you view a different website.  You should ensure that your employees have the sites that require Compatibility View on this list, but make sure that your new website is NOT on that list.

In fact, Microsoft says that “once you turn on Compatibility View, Internet Explorer will automatically show that site in Compatibility View each time you visit. You can turn it off by removing it from your compatibility list.”  So your internal users will need to manually remove your new site’s URL  from their Compatibility List in the IE tools settings, or the browser may continue to use Compatibility View for your new site each new time they visit.

Manually choosing to use Compatibility View is a user-selected option, however, and other than trying the meta tag that we listed above and asking them to remove the site from their compatibility list, there’s no way to “force” a user to turn Compatibility View off.

You should also be aware that Compatibility View is not intended to be left on constantly on all websites. It’s not even an exact replication of the earlier browser, like IE8.  That is shown by the fact that your new website displays properly on IE8, and it’s only in Compatibility View mode that it does not work properly.  Compatibility View is an imprecise approximation of how the earlier browser displays and handles certain website features, but it is not a guarantee that any website will display properly in that mode.

Here’s some additional information from Google and Microsoft on Compatibility Mode:

Google Info about Compatibility Mode

Microsoft Info about Compatibility Mode


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