Exploring the Internet means more than learning to navigate the pages you see in your browser. It also means learning how to more efficiently use your browser to improve the process and the experience. In this section we will learn about the parts, pieces, buttons and bells of Microsoft Internet Explorer, including power user tips and tricks to improve your Internet browsing experience.
The Address Bar
There are many ways to access the Internet from within your computer. Included here are three options. The first is from within the Internet Explorer program.
In the top section of the window you will find the address bar. Inside the address bar box you type the web page address. As you type, the window “expands” or pops up and the software suggests web page addresses, trying to be “user friendly”. It helps by suggesting sites visited in the past. If you have not visited this web page before, it will not be on the list so continue typing. If it is on the list, click on your choice with the mouse or use the arrow keys to scroll down and hit enter when you have highlighted the address you want. This process is called Autocomplete, and Microsoft also calls it “Intellisense.”
Web Pages from Start Menu
Another place to enter a web page address is from the START button at the bottom of your computer screen. Click START, then RUN, and type the web page address in the pop-up window. This window also features Autocomplete, as the software helps you finish the web page address, saving a few keystrokes.
TIP: If you use the Internet a lot, consider adding a toolbar to your taskbar. The taskbar is the bar at the bottom of your computer screen. Find an empty spot and RIGHT CLICK. This opens a pop-up menu. Select Toolbars. The check marks next to the toolbars on the list show you which ones you are using. Select ADDRESS and an address bar will appear in your taskbar. You can click and drag this to wherever you want on the desktop off the taskbar. Now you have a constant place to enter in a web page address. Click ENTER to start the Internet Explorer program and go to that web page address.
TIP: To speed up the process of entering a web page address, type in the domain name and then hit CTRL+ENTER keys to put an http://www in front and .com in back. Hit ENTER to go to that web page address.
Using the Address Bar to Search
You can also use the address bar to search the Internet. Just type in the word or phrase you want to search for. The Autocomplete function will recognize the difference as you haven’t typed in “www.” before the word and the pop-up window will say “Search” and list the word you are searching for in quotes. Hit the ENTER key and the program will automatically begin a search for that word or phrase using the default search engines.
The toolbar at the top of Internet Explorer is also known as the Button Bar as it holds the buttons which are program commands. We will begin from left to right and discuss the buttons, what they do, and some of the tricks they offer.
The most used button on the browser is the BACK button. Moving from page to page, you often want to revisit a page. The BACK button moves you backward.
Next to the button you will see a small arrow. Click on that arrow and a menu will pop down. This is a list of the last few web pages you have visited. Click on the one you want to return to instead of just hitting the back button over and over again.
TIP: Hold your mouse over the BACK button for a second and a small balloon pops up with the title of the last page you just visited. The same works for the FORWARD button.
The forward buttons works the same way as the BACK button, but it takes you to web pages you have already visited, but moved back from. It also hosts a small arrow next to it and you can use it the same way.
The STOP button does what it says. It STOPS the action. If you realize the web page isn’t right, hit the STOP button to stop the process which is called “loading” a web page. Use the STOP button when you have been sitting at the computer for several minutes waiting for a page to load, and nothing is happening. Hitting the STOP button should stop the process, but it might take a moment or two to actually stop.
TIP: TOP can also be initiated by hitting the ESCAPE key on your keyboard, usually found in the upper left-hand corner.
One of the most ignored but useful buttons on the toolbar, the REFRESH button reloads a page. If you are having trouble with a page loading, the graphics out of whack or something just not right, simply hit the REFRESH button and it’s like starting over on that page. This also works for “Not Found” errors, or if you are visited a page with constantly updated information, like stock quotes. Hit REFRESH to reload the page and update the information.
The first page you see when you start Internet Explorer is called your Home Page. To get back to this “starting page”, click on the HOME button. To customize your “home page”, do the following:
- From the Menu, click TOOLS, INTERNET OPTIONS
- On the General tab, in the first section is the Home Page section.
- In the window provided, type in the web page address of the page you wish to be your home page.
- If you are already on that page now, click Use Current.
- If you would like to use a blank screen, getting rid of the clutter, click Use Blank.
- If you want to return to the page that Microsoft originally set up for you, click Use Default.
- Click Apply, and OK to finish.
The SEARCH button initiates a web search from within the browser. Click the button and a window pane opens on the side of your screen. From here you can select what kind of information you are searching for, such as a web page, address, find a person, maps, and enter in the keyword(s) in the search window. The search, by default, will use Microsoft Network (MSN) and their search engines. If you would like to customize which search engines you want to use, click the Customize button on the window pane.
A Favorite is a web page address you want to return to. The list is called your FAVORITES. The FAVORITES button brings up the list in a window pane on the side of your screen. From that window you can ADD the page you are visiting, and ORGANIZE your list to make sure that everything is sorted so you can find it. Simply highlight the web page title you wish to visit and click it to go to that page.
Organizing your FAVORITES list can be done after the fact through the ORGANIZE FAVORITES button, or as you ADD web pages to your list. You can ADD web pages through the side window pane, or through the menu, FAVORITES, ADD FAVORITES.
To organize your favorites, I recommend creating a series of folders with titles grouping the different subjects you often search for. For instance, I buy a lot of books on the Internet so I keep a list of web sites selling books in my Books folder. I also have been learning to cook so I keep a list of web sites for cooking recipes and techniques in my Cooking folder. Under my Cooking folder, I have sorted my recipes into ethnic groups and techniques such as Asian, Mexican, Jewish, Cookies, Breads, Baking, etc. With over a thousand bookmarked favorites, sorting them into categories makes it easier to find what you are looking for.
“This web page has important information on the wide and diverse subject of dogs.html”
Honestly, you will find many web page titles like that. Simply type in the name that will help you find the page in the future, whatever you want, and then click OKAY to save the page.
“information on dogs.html”
To create a folder in ADD FAVORITES:
1. Click the CREATE IN button to open up the window of folders.
2. Click MAKE FOLDER to create a new folder.
3. Select the folder you want the Favorite address to go in.
4. Click OKAY to finish.
TIP: A shortcut to add the address to your favorites list is CTRL+D. It will just add the web page to the list and not organize it.
The HISTORY button gives you the ability to see a list of recently visited web pages. Click the HISTORY button to bring the HISTORY window pane to the side of your screen. The list is organized by day of the week, or previous weeks. If you’re not sure of the address, you can search through this list to find it using the SEARCH button. It can also be sorted by clicking VIEW, then selecting By Date, By Site, etc.
TIP: You control the length of time Internet Explorer keeps this log through TOOLS, INTERNET OPTIONS, General tab, HISTORY. Enter in the number of days to save this information. The pages are saved on your hard drive until the time elapses.
The Menu Bar is the bar at the top of the Internet Explorer program screen. It begins with FILE, EDIT, VIEW, FAVORITES, etc. We are going to discuss the VIEW and FAVORITES menus.
The Favorites Menu is similar to the Favorites window pane brought up by clicking the FAVORITES button, but it is in the form of a menu. The first two menu items are ADD FAVORITE and ORGANIZE FAVORITES, and they work the same as they do from the window pane. Below is a list of your folders and favorites. Next to a folder is a side arrow which will pop out when you hold your mouse over that folder name or click on that folder, opening the folder to reveal favorites or more folders, going on and on, giving you an organized access to your favorites list. Simply click on your choice to go to that web page.
TIP: The titles are listed, but if you would like to see the actual address, hold your mouse over the title without clicking and a balloon will pop up listing the web page address.
The View Menu offers a variety of choices on how you view Internet Explorer and the web page you are on. As you look down the menu list, notice keystroke commands next to the command word. These are keyboard shortcuts. If you find yourself using the BACK button a lot, the menu shows ALT+Left Arrow is the keyboard shortcut. Using that keystroke might speed up your time instead of hunting for the button. I will highlight some of the good menu items to remember.
- This menu item controls which toolbars and button bars you have up on your screen. I recommend no more than two to maximize space. Too many bars and it eats into your viewing real estate. Try a few to see what they are and push all their buttons.
- GO TO
- This is the menu home for the movement controlling buttons of Internet Explorer. You will see BACK, FORWARD, and HOME listed, along with their keyboard shortcuts. Below this is a list of web pages you’ve visited on this trip. The check mark designates which page you are on now, and the ones above it are “back” and the ones below it are “forward” of where you are. When you get lost, this will help you get found.
- STOP, REFRESH
- Look familiar? These are the menu equivalents of the buttons. Again, notice that they also have keyboard shortcuts. REFRESH is F5 and STOP is Escape.
- TEXT SIZE
- Size matters, especially when it comes to comfortably viewing a web page. If the text is too small or too big, you can control the size of the fonts – to a point. The web page designers have most of the control and they may have limited what these sizes mean in order for the text to flow around the graphics, making the page look good. Changing the text size will help you anyway. Simply choose a size: smallest is the very fine print and largest is the biggest. Adjusting this can sometimes adjust how large the fonts appear when you print the web page.
- Ah, the mysteries of the Internet Explorer. Is this a menu choice that will open up the inner workings of the program revealing mixed up codes and magical spells? Nope, this is a bad word choice for the language controls of the program. Language as in foreign language characters. Click on ENCODING and the menu lists different languages. You can have the program Auto-Select the languages, or you can force the program to temporarily allow you to view other languages such as Russian, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and the list goes on and on. Click MORE to see the different languages. You will recognize that the ENCODING isn’t working when a web page is filled with boxes, symbols, squiggles, and nothing makes much sense.
Foriegn Language CharactersTo permanently add a foreign language character list to the Internet Browser, click TOOLS, INTERNET OPTIONS, and at the bottom of the General tab, click LANGUAGES. This shows you a list of the languages you have “installed” in Internet Explorer. Click ADD to add more.
NOTE: This does not effect any of the other software on your computer and will not translate web pages into another language. It merely helps the software recognize foreign language characters.
A hyperlink is a word or graphic you click which takes you to another web page. It is also called a “link” or “target”. It has also been jokingly called a “click ’em”. When the mouse’s pointer arrow moves over a link it will change to a hand. One left click will open that link in the same window. Right Click brings up a menu with the option of “Open in a New Window”. This will open the link in a new window, leaving the first window open while you browse the second window.
Tip: RIGHT CLICK brings up several options from a link. You can add the link to your Favorites List. You can print the linked document. You can also “Copy Shortcut”. This copies the link web page address onto your clipboard. You can then paste the web page address into an email or document in which you want that web page address.