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I am trying to debug a web service on a network I don't have a lot of privileges on, and have run into a somewhat inconvenient IE quirk. When I try to access a resource (web page, specifically) through IE7 on Windows XP, the browser shows me a "friendly" version of the error message, i.e.:

Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage

Most likely causes:

  • You are not connected to the Internet.
  • The website is encountering problems.
  • There might be a typing error in the address.

What I want is for it to give me the actual HTTP error code from the server.

Following the advice in this Knowledge Base article (although I did notice it was targeted at IE 5.x and 6.x) I tried disabling the "Show friendly HTTP error messages" checkbox under Tools -> Intenet Options -> Browsing, but found it was already unchecked. Not sure what else I can try.

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This may be relevant:…. Is there no chance they will let you install Firefox? – James Jun 24 '13 at 17:59
@James Unfortunately that isn't possible, since I'm testing port connectivity (the port-listener can't send custom error messages if there is no port-listener) and can't make changes to IIS installation due to access restrictions. I might try installing FF, I'll see if I can get the permissions for that. – Asad Saeeduddin Jun 24 '13 at 18:13
The article I linked to basically says that the error page must be 512 bytes or bigger or IE won't show it. Are you not able to change the error page/template? – James Jun 25 '13 at 8:22

Assuming the page is hosted by an IIS server, the only options you have to see the error are to either A) log in to the web host and view the error on that machine, or B) get the network administrator to modify the config to allow the remote viewing of unfriendly errors.

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This is why I mentioned I don't have a lot of privileges on this network (developing software in a temporary capacity). Clearly the server is sending the error code (I can see it through cURL for example): I just need to get the browser to display it. – Asad Saeeduddin Jun 24 '13 at 18:06
Also, upon closer reading, I'm not sure what you mean by unfriendly errors. There is nothing special about the error codes themselves: IE just chooses not to display HTTP error codes because it assumes I don't care about them. – Asad Saeeduddin Jun 24 '13 at 18:16
There's a setting in the configuration files for web applications in IIS that will prevent the display of the actual error to remote users. If that option is enabled, than you as a remote user would only see something similar to the error you received, or a specially defined page that the developer wants you to see. It's good practice to have that option on, because you don't want the end-user to see a stack trace when you can instead show them a more friendly "Sorry, there's a temporary problem, please try again". – Taegost Jun 24 '13 at 18:26
Yes I am aware of that, but like I said, the server hasn't been configured to send the error message that I'm seeing. It's sending the standard 404 page (I can see this in command line clients such as cURL), IE just decides to mask it with the uninformative version. Are you saying IIS sends headers or something that tell IE to hide the error code? – Asad Saeeduddin Jun 24 '13 at 18:30

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