A Web browser is a computer software program that allows you to navigate through the World Wide Web. The two most popular browsers are Netscape Communicator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Other browsers available include America Online, Mosaic, Lynx, and WebTV (depending on your Internet Service Provider).
Netscape Communicator and Microsoft Internet Explorer are very similar. There are some differences in buttons, etc., so some people claim one is better than the other. It is usually a matter of personal preference or greater familiarity with one browser than the other. Both companies are continually improving their browsers and adding new features and enhancements.
Microsoft Internet Explorer
There are some important browser features to know regardless of which browser you prefer: BACK : Click on the Back Button to return to the previous page or document you've visited.
FORWARD : Click on the Forward Button to return to the page that you just came from (this only works if you have used the Back Button at least once).
STOP : Click on the Stop Button or Stop Light to stop the transfer of information from another computer. This stops the browser from loading the current page.
REFRESH or RELOAD : Click on this button to have your browser reload the current page again. If a part of a web page does not load properly or is taking a long time to load, you can click this button to have your web browser try to reload it again from the web server.
HOME : Click on the Home Button to have your browser return to the default home page. This returns your browser to its "starting point," usually the Microsoft or Netscape website unless you have set it to another home page.
SEARCH : Click on the Search Button to connect to a Search Page to look for information in various directories and search engines.
FAVORITES or BOOKMARKS : Click on this button to save a web page that you want to revisit again. The URL of that page is recorded on your list of favorites or bookmarks. When you click on this button again, you can revisit that web page simply by clicking on the link on your favorites or bookmarks list instead of retyping the entire URL.
PRINT : Click on the Print Button to print the current document in your browser. Be aware that the printed document may consist of several pages -- more than what is actually showing in a single browser window. Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 and Netscape Navigator gives you a preview option. Click on the word "File" on the Menu Bar, then click on the words "Print Preview."
ADDRESS or LOCATION BAR : Type the web address of the website you want to visit in this the Address or Location Bar. After you enter the web address, press the Return or Enter key or click on the Go Button on the Internet Explorer Toolbar to access the website you want to visit. Also, if you click on the small triangle to the right of the Address or Location Bar, a drop-down list of the most recent websites you have visited appears. To revisit one of those websites, you just need to click on that address.
STATUS BAR : The status bar appears at the bottom of the browser window. It tells you what is going on while you are on the internet. It may tell you the address of the website you are accessing, if the server is being contacted, what is being downloading, etc.
SCROLL BAR : A vertical scroll bar appears to the right of the browser window when the document you access is longer than the browser window. The scroll bar lets you scroll down and up the web page when you place your arrow cursor on the up or down arrows. You can also hold down the left mouse key and drag the slider. If a web page is wider than the browser window, a horizontal scroll bar appears at the bottom of the browser window to allow you to scroll from left to right.
ACCESS INDICATOR : A small picture appears at the upper right-hand corner of each browser with either the Netscape or Microsoft icon. When this icon is animated or in motion, it means that your computer is accessing data from the server where the web page is stored.
Updated : March 7, 2002
© Henry Waldinger Memorial Library, 2002.