The Internet Browser is software that guides your exploration of the Internet. It is also the “translator” of the language of the Internet and web pages, helping you “see” the information you want no matter what kind of computer system or language you speak. The Internet Browser is the equivalent of your car on the information highway. And to drive any vehicle, you must learn how it works and where all the buttons are.
There are two main players in the Internet Browser marketplace: Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. As of 2000, 86% of all Internet users in the United States use Internet Explorer and more than 90% of Internet users outside the US also use Internet Explorer. As of 2004, a serious contender has arrived to do battle with Microsoft Internet Explorer: Mozilla Firefox. With more than 46 million downloads and featuring much more power and capability for the power user than Internet Explorer, Firefox is gaining ground fast. We’ll have more information about Firefox coming soon, but if you want to use the Internet like a race car, don’t wait for us to give you more information, download it yourself. It’s worth it.
Still, since Microsoft Internet Explorer is still the browser that comes with the machine, here are some tips and tricks on how to use the most popular vehicle on the road: Internet Explorer. For those who use Netscape, much of the program and the tips will be the same, only the words will change. The two most important semantic differences are with the following terms [UPDATE: As of December 2003, Netscape is no longer being updated or supported. Correction: In 2004, Netscape was revived by AOL...though still a dying breed.]:
Netscape Terms -> Internet Explorer Terms
Bookmark -> Favorite
Location Field -> Address
Internet Explorer’s main window is made up of the same menus, toolbars and basic format of any Windows-based program. At the top you will find the menu bar listing titles like File, Edit, View – no different from any other software program interface. In addition you will find titles for Favorites, Tools and Help.
Below the menu bar is the toolbar. Upon this bar are buttons which allow you to quickly command the program with a click of the mouse. Below the toolbar is the address bar. This is where you enter in the address of the web page you wish to visit. Here is where we begin our introduction to the Internet Browser.
In the next section, we will look at the menu and buttons that help you to control how your browser works and eases the effort of searching and viewing web pages on the Internet.