Browser Basics

Whether you're brand new to browsing the World Wide Web or you have some experience under your belt, you'll want to check out the practical questions and answers and loads of useful browser tips in this section.

What's in a Web browser?
What is a URL?
Browser tips
The cache and toolbar
What is HTML?
Why do some Web pages take so long to download?
What is Active Desktop?
What does FTP have to do with downloading?

 Hughes Glantzberg

Last Revised: 11/17/1998

Created by
The PC Help Desk
(Hughes Glantzberg)

What's in a Web browser?
A Web browser contains the basic software you need in order to find, retrieve, view, and send information over the Internet. This includes software that lets you:

Browsers such as Microsoft® Internet Explorer v4.0 include additional Internet-related software. For example, with Internet Explorer, you also get:

NetShow Server
This allows you to see and hear live and recorded broadcasts-such as concerts or breaking news - with synchronized audio, graphics, video, URLs and script commands. And streaming technology allows you to see or hear the information as it arrives instead of having to wait for the entire file to download.

NetMeeting Conferencing Software
With a sound card, speakers, and a microphone, you can talk to others worldwide - from family to colleagues - using NetMeeting. Add a Windows-compatible video capture card and/or camera to see them, too. Exchange pictures and draw diagrams on an electronic whiteboard, communicate with text-based chat, transfer files, and share applications.

ActiveX Controls
ActiveX technology allows authors to develop innovative, highly interactive Web sites. ActiveX Controls are the software components that run behind the scenes in Internet Explorer so that these sites come alive for you.

Chat
This program lets you converse online in real time with one or more people. You decide how your message is displayed - text only or text with graphics. You can send and receive sounds, files, and "hot" links of E-Mail addresses, Web pages, and newsgroups. You can even "whisper" to another person in a group chat. Use it for your next online family reunion.

ActiveMovie Application Programming Interface
ActiveMovie allows you to experience television-quality video and CD-quality audio, while minimizing file size and download time compared to other video and audio formats. By using "progressive downloading," ActiveMovie lets you start playing an audio or video clip while it's still downloading.

Active Channel
Active Channel webcasts enable dynamic information to be sent regularly to your computer. They automatically transmit content that fits your interests - everything from Disney entertainment to stock quotes. Use the Channel bar to select your favorite topics, and Internet Explorer 4.0 gets the information, so you can read it whenever you want - even offline.

Subscriptions
This feature delivers preferred information straight to your desktop, when you want it, in the way you want it - for free. To subscribe to a Web site, select the site and specify when you want the information updated and how you want to be notified, such as through an E-Mail message. Internet Explorer does the rest. Then you can browse the content offline.

Dynamic HTML
Internet Explorer 4.0 supports this programming language, which makes enticing, unique, fun, and fast-downloading Web pages possible. The pages download quickly because they are created using lightweight HTML instead of heavy-duty graphics. Round trips to the server are minimized, which means faster browser performance on your desktop computer.

Download Internet Explorer 4.0
Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 takes advantage of everything you already know and like about the Windows 95 operating system and Internet Explorer 3.0. Plus, it delivers the information you want straight to your computer. Combine this with the smart, new Web-search refinement tool, and getting information on your favorite subjects is a breeze. Best of all, Internet Explorer 4.0 has a unique suite of applications - such as E-Mail, newsgroup readers, and Chat - that make it easy to share your ideas with family and friends.

If you don't have a Web browser, contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to find out how to connect in order to download a Web browser.

What is a URL?
A URL, or uniform resource locator, is the address of an Internet file. Usually it consists of four parts: protocol, server (or domain), path, and file name. Sometimes there's no path or file name. Here's an example:

http://www.microsoft.com/magazine/tips/default.htm

Browser tips

Take advantage of all the great features of Microsoft® Internet Explorer version 4.0. These tips will help.

Spot the links

You can tell whether an item on a page is a link by moving the mouse pointer over the item. If the pointer changes to a hand, the item is a link. A link can be a picture, a three-dimensional image, or colored text (usually underlined). Click any link on a Web page to go to another page within that site or another site.

Display all Web pages faster
To display Web pages faster:

  1. On the View menu in the browser, click Internet Options.
  2. Click the Advanced tab.
  3. In the Multimedia area, clear one or more of the Show pictures, Play animations, Play videos, or Play sounds check boxes.
  4. If the Show pictures or Play videos check box is cleared, you can still display an individual picture or animation on a Web page by right-clicking its icon and then clicking Show Picture.
  5. If the pictures on the current page are still visible after you clear the Show pictures check box, you can hide them by clicking the View menu and then clicking Refresh.


Display previously viewed pages faster
To display previously viewed pages faster:

  1. On the View menu in the browser, click Internet Options.
  2. On the General tab, click Settings.
  3. To create more space to store pages temporarily, move the slider to the right.
  4. To prevent Internet Explorer from updating pages in the Temporary Internet Files folder, click Never.

Change how page colors are displayed
To change how page colors are displayed:

  1. On the View menu in the browser, click Internet Options.
  2. Change the settings as needed.


Display text in a different font
To display text in a different font:

  1. On the View menu in the browser, click Internet Options.
  2. On the General tab, click Fonts.
  3. In the Proportional and Fixed-width font lists, click the fonts you want.


Specify which font and color setting to always use
To specify which font and color settings to always use:

  1. On the View menu in the browser, click Internet Options.
  2. On the General tab, click Accessibility.
  3. Change the settings as needed.

Display text larger or smaller
To display text larger or smaller:

View Web pages in a different language
Some Web sites offer their content in several languages. You can add languages to your list of languages in Internet Explorer, so that you can view these sites in your preferred language.

To view Web pages written in a different language:

  1. On the View menu in the browser, click Internet Options.
  2. On the General tab, click Languages.
  3. Click Add.
  4. Select the language you want to add.

Add a page to your Favorites
To add a page to your collection of favorite pages:

  1. Go to the page you want to add to your collection of favorite pages.
  2. On the Favorites menu, click Add to Favorites.
  3. Type a new name for the page if you want to.

Add Mastering the Internet to your Favorites
To make sure you always have access to the latest Internet news, software updates, and tips and tricks for using Internet Explorer, why not add the Mastering the Internet site to your Favorites list now?

To add the Mastering the Internet site to your Favorites list, follow these steps:

  1. On the File menu of your Internet Explorer toolbar, point to New, and click Window, so you don't lose your place in this guide.
  2. Under the File menu in the new window, click Open, and then type http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/9153/Internet/Internet.html in the address box.
  3. Click OK.
  4. When the Mastering the Internet page has finished loading, on the Favorites menu, click Add to Favorites, and click OK.
  5. Close the new window.

Organize your Favorites into folders
To organize your favorite pages into folders:

  1. On the Favorites menu, click Organize Favorites.
  2. Click Create New Folder, type a name for the folder, and then press <Enter>.
  3. Drag the shortcuts in the list to the appropriate folders.


Change your home page
To change your home page:

  1. Go to the page you want to appear when you first start Internet Explorer.
  2. On the View menu, click Internet Options.
  3. Click the General tab.
  4. In the Home page area, click Use Current.

Save text and graphics from the Web
When you see text or graphics on a Web page that you like or want to refer to later, you can save them on your computer's hard disk. Later, you can open the saved file and review it offline.

To save a text or source file:

  1. On the toolbar, click File, and then click Save As.
  2. Click Save to save the file.


To save a graphic

  1. Right-click the graphic.
  2. On the context sensitive menu that appears, click Save Picture As.
  3. Browse to the folder where you would like to save the file.
  4. Click Save to save the file.

To open a saved file, double-click it from the folder where you've saved it. Microsoft Internet Explorer will start automatically, and your saved file will appear in the browser window.

Add a page to your Links bar
To add a page to your Links bar:

  1. Drag the icon for the page from your Address bar to your Links bar.
  2. Drag a link from a Web page to your Links bar.
  3. Drag a link to the Links folder in your Favorites list: You can either drag it directly to the Favorites menu and then into the Links folder or you can drag it to the Links folder when displaying your Favorites in the Explorer bar.


Create a Desktop Shortcut to the Current Page

Return to a Web page you've already seen
There are several ways to return to a previously viewed Web page:

Change the Appearance of the Toolbar
To change the appearance of the toolbar:

The Cache and Toolbar

You've arrived at this page, so you must already know something about how to use a Web browser. Just in case you haven't yet used some of the features of Microsoft® Internet Explorer, here's a guide to many of the features you'll find in it.

Cache
When you explore the Web, your browser keeps track of the pages you've visited and saves them on your hard disk so they'll load faster when you return them. This saves you time and money because you can view the saved pages without being connected to the Internet. The saved files - your "temporary Internet files" - are stored in your disk cache.

To empty your Internet Explorer disk cache
When you browse, your disk cache can fill up with files you no longer need. Here's how to empty your Internet Explorer disk cache.

For Internet Explorer version 3.0:

  1. On the View menu of your Internet Explorer toolbar, click Options.
  2. Click the Advanced tab.
  3. In the Temporary Internet Files area, click Settings.
  4. Then click the Empty Folder button.

For Internet Explorer version 4.0:

  1. On the View menu of your Internet Explorer toolbar, click Internet Options.
  2. Click the General tab.
  3. In the Temporary Internet Files area, click Delete Files, then click OK.
  4. Click OK to close Internet Options.

To Change the Size of your Internet Explorer Disk Cache
You can change the amount of hard-disk space reserved for your disk cache. A larger disk cache may display previously visited pages faster, but it will decrease the amount of hard-disk space available for other files. Here's how to set the size of your disk cache.

For Internet Explorer 3.0:

  1. On the View menu of your Internet Explorer toolbar, click Options.
  2. Click the Advanced tab.
  3. In the Temporary Internet Files area, click Settings.
  4. Move the arrow on the Amount of Disk Space to Use slider to the percentage of disk space you want designated to your disk cache.
  5. Click OK to save your settings.

For Internet Explorer 4.0:

  1. On the View menu of your Internet Explorer toolbar, click Internet Options.
  2. Click the General tab.
  3. In the Temporary Internet Files area, click Settings.
  4. Move the arrow on the Amount of Disk Space to Use slider to the percentage of disk space you want designated for your disk cache, then click OK.
  5. Click OK to close Internet Options.

Toolbar
The Internet Explorer toolbar consists of buttons that are shortcuts for menu commands. They make browsing faster and easier.

Back. Lets you return to pages you've viewed, beginning with the most recent. With Microsoft Internet Explorer version 4.0, right-click the Back button, and select from a list of recently visited sites.

Forward. Lets you move forward through pages you've viewed using the Back button. With Internet Explorer 4.0, right click the Forward button, and select from a list of recently visited sites.

Stop. Halts the process of downloading a Web page. Click this if you want to stop downloading a page for any reason-if you're having trouble downloading it, for example, or if you don't want to wait for it to download. Then try downloading it again or browse elsewhere.

Refresh. Updates any Web page stored in your disk cache with the latest content. (When you return to a page you've visited, your browser displays the file stored in your disk cache, rather than the current page on the World Wide Web. This saves download time.)

Home. Returns you to your home page. You can designate any Web page as your home page.

Search. Displays a choice of popular Internet search engines in the left pane. Your search results appear in the left pane, too. When you click a link, the page appears in the right pane, so you don't lose sight of your search results.

Favorites. Displays a list of the sites (and, with Internet Explorer 4.0, the folders, files, and servers) that you've saved as Favorites. Click on any item in the list to jump to it.

Print. Prints the page you're viewing. This is one way to save information from the Internet so that you don't have to reconnect to view it again. You can even print the URL associated with each hyperlink, making it easy to navigate to the site later.

Font. Lets you display text in a larger or smaller font with Internet Explorer 4.0.

Mail. Connects you to Microsoft Outlook™ Express messaging and collaboration client so you can read E-Mail and newsgroup messages.

Edit. Opens a file in Microsoft Word word processor that contains the HTML code for the page you're viewing so you can see and even edit it.

What is HTML?

HTML, or HyperText Markup Language, is a programming language used to build Web sites. It contains standard codes, or tags, that determine how a Web page looks when your browser displays it. HTML tags also make possible the hyperlinks that connect information on the World Wide Web.

See the "Creating a Website" section.

Sites to Visit
To learn more about HTML, check out A Beginner's Guide to HTML.

Also, visit the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web site.

Why Do Some Web Pages Take So Long To Download?

Many factors affect how fast a Web page travels from its Web site to your computer. Web pages may load slowly for these reasons:

To decrease download time, try these pointers:

What is Active Desktop?

Active Desktop™ interface is a feature of Microsoft® Internet Explorer version 4.0 that allows your desktop to function like a browser. Here are some of the things you can do using Active Desktop:

What is FTP, and What Does It have to do with Downloading?

FTP is short for "File Transfer Protocol." It's a system of rules for communicating over the Internet, and it allows you to transfer files to and download files from other computers. A browser such as Microsoft® Internet Explorer contains the tools you need to handle FTPs. So with Internet Explorer, you can download any file available on the Internet.