Browsing the Web: Your first time – what you need to know

The World Wide Web is the Internet’s glossy, glamorous, pointand- click front door: a colourful assault of opinion, shopping, music, news, art, books, travel, games, job agencies, movie previews, radio broadcasts, self-promotion and much, much more. The biggest breakthrough in communications since TV, the Web has sparked off a publishing revolution.

Though “surfing” or “browsing” the Web is extremely easy, there are plenty of useful tricks that most people aren’t aware of – from choosing a better Web browser to blocking annoying flashing ads. Find below some useful tips thar will help you enjoy your surfing experiences.
These days, all computers come with at least one Web browser pre-installed and ready to go. On a PC, it’s Internet Explorer, with the blue “e” icon. On a Mac, it’s Safari, with its light-blue compass icon. If you’re absolutely new to the Web, you should use one of these to find your feet.
Entering addresses:
Open your browser and ignore whatever appears. See the white bar running horizontally at the top? That’s the Address bar. This is where you enter Web addresses. To see how it works, click inside it, delete whatever is there, type and hit Enter or click Go. If all works well, your browser will retrieve the page – in this case the Yahoo! Search engine and directory – and display it on your screen.

Webpages are written in HTML – HyperText Markup Language – which allows pages to contain links, or hyperlinks, to other pages, images or downloadable files. Usually, when you pass over a link your cursor will  become a pointing hand and the target address will appear in a bar at the bottom of your browser. It’s easy for site designers to override all this, though, should they choose. Try moving your mouse cursor around and clicking on a few links.
Back & Forward:
Lets you move quickly between pages you’ve already visited. With a slow connection, this can be especially handy, as the pages will load quickly from the browser’s cache (see p.80) rather than being downloaded afresh.

Takes you to your homepage, which is the page your browser tries to access whenever you open a new window. You can choose any page as your homepage.
lets you cancel a page request because it’s taking too long to load or you’ve made a mistake. In Safari, the refresh button becomes the stop button whenever a page is loading.

let’s you reload a page, either because it didn’t load properly, or because you think something may have changed on the page since you last loaded it (such as on a frequently updated news site). If your ISP requires you to use a proxy server, refresh is also useful for making sure you’re looking at the “live”, not “cached”, version of a page.

Which browser?
Your Web browser is the key component of your Internet toolkit. It’s not only the window through which you view webpages but a package for downloading files, viewing news feeds and much more. As we’ve already seen, your computer already has a Web browser installed, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the best one to use. So before we look in more depth at all things www, here’s a quick run through the main browsers. Don’t be afraid of trying a few out to see what suits you best – you can always uninstall them, or use different browsers for different tasks.
Internet Explorer
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, or IE, is far and away the world’s most widely used browser. Recent versions are decent enough, but IE’s popularity is mainly down to the fact that for years it has come pre-installed on nearly every new PC as  part of Microsoft Windows. IE has traditionally trailed behind its competitors in terms of features and security.
Pre-2005 Macs also came with IE, but the standard Mac browser now is Apple’s own Safari. In most way , it’s an excellent browser. It’s fast, intuitive and nicelooking, with a Google search box built in. It also features excellent tabbed browsing and top-class newsfeed tools. Still, whether you use a Mac or PC it’s worth checking out Safari.
First released in 2004, Firefox is an excellent browser created by the Mozilla Foundation with the help of volunteer programmers around the world. Released as an open-source product, Firefox has a huge range of features, and even if you discover something that it can’t do, you’ll often find that the desired function can be easily added via an extension or some other customization. There are extensions available for everything from blocking banner ads to translating text into different languages. Furthermore, most experts agree that Firefox leaves PC users slightly less vulnerable to potentially harmful scripts and other Web-based nasties than does Internet Explorer. With a built-in Google search box, customizable address-bar searching, excellent privacy tools and many other handy extras, this is the best choice for PC users (and arguably the best for Mac users too) at the time of writing this article.

Hailing from Scandinavia, Opera introduced many now-standard features (such as tabbed and multi-page bookmarks) years before its competitors. And it still has many unique extras, from “mouse gestures” (allowing you to navigate without clicking) to a fully featured mail program built right into the browser window. It’s also very fast and – now that the ad banner bar that had for years blighted the free version has been removed – it’s worth trying.
And more …
There are many other browsers out there. To find them, as well as read news, reviews, tests, comparisons, tips and downloads on a wide range of platforms, see: Browsers:
Evolt Browsers:
Important: update your browser
Whichever browser you use, be sure to keep it up to date – partly to gain any extra features, but more importantly to ensure that you’re not exposing yourself to any security risks. Many people assume that as long as they don’t open any dodgy email attachments, they’ll be safe from viruses, hackers and other such evils, but with an outof- date browser it’s possible to catch something nasty just by visiting a malicious webpage. With recent PCs and Macs, updates will be offered by automatically and should be accepted. On older PCs, you may need to use Windows Update.

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