The Computer Corner
By Charles Miller
One of the great advantages of using a GUI (Graphical User Interface) is that once you learn some mouse trick or keyboard shortcut, it is often the case you can use those same features in many different places. This is true of Microsoft Windows, Mac OS-X as well as Linux and is often true cross-platform (meaning that some Windows shortcuts work on a Mac and vice-versa).
When using your favorite internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.) there are some hidden commands that work on most of them. Pressing [Ctrl +] or [Ctrl -], that is the holding the [Ctrl] key while pressing plus or minus will increase or decrease the size of the screen. Mac users hold down the [Command] key rather than [Ctrl]. Pressing [Ctrl 0] or [Command] and the number zero, will restore the browser screen to normal size. These three keys: zero, minus, and plus are together in the upper row of your keyboard and that can help you remember which three keys to use. If you prefer using your mouse, holding down [Ctrl] while rolling the mouse wheel also changes the text size.
Mozilla Firefox is generally quite good about remembering the magnification level you chose for a particular web site and automatically setting your screen to that same magnification level when you return to that site later. If your computer fails to do this then the reason is very likely because you have your privacy settings cranked up a bit too high for the program to remember the screen settings for individual sites. Click on Tools / Options / Privacy / History and check that you do not have the option to “Never Remember History” selected. If you want to save the screen size you used on a site you cannot use Firefox in a private browsing session because that makes everything a little too private, including your screen size.
Many browsers will expand to full-screen mode if you press [F11]. Pressing [F11] a second time will restore the browser menus and toolbars to normal. This is especially useful when using a very small screen on which the menus and toolbars use too much space.
Over the years the mouse right-click has become so useful in Windows software that it is now showing up in more and more Mac programs and is especially useful when using most internet browsers. Position your mouse on a blank area of the web page you are reading and you will likely be shown a context menu with several options such “Back”/”Forward” (same as clicking the navigation arrows) or “Bookmark the page” or “Print” or “Search” within the page. If the “Search” command is not there, then try [Ctrl F] to “find” your search term on that page.
The right-click behaved quite differently if you point your mouse to different locations on the screen. If you right-click on an image you may find the option to save that image to your computer or perhaps set that picture as your desktop background.
If you first select a word or phrase then right-click on the selected text you will often find that new commands appear such as “Search Google for…” the word you selected. Selecting that option usually opens a new tab or new window to display those search results. Some browsers expand on this further by adding a command to “Look up in Dictionary” the word you selected then right-clicked on.
Not to worry! Mac users who have no right mouse button are not about to be left out in the cold here. If your Mac has no right mouse button you can always hold down on the [Command] key while clicking the only mouse button you have, and that usually simulates a right-click. OS-X recognizes pointing devices with two buttons, so feel free to go to the store and buy an up-to-the-date mouse with both right and left buttons.
Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044-415-101-8528 or email FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com.