What other browser tricks do you know?

The Computer Corner

By Charles Miller

When using an internet browser recently I made use of a little-known feature, prompting my client to stop me and ask “How did you do that?” So I answered her question after which her follow-up was “Okay, what other browser tricks do you know?” This week’s column is sort of an answer to that question.

Everyone uses one web browser or another to surf the internet and to access the content of web pages. The most commonly used browser software names are Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and the list goes on and on. There are quite a number of things all these browsers have in common (such as the address bar, forward/back buttons, refresh button, etc.) These essential design elements are as standard to browsers as steering wheel and floor pedals are to automobiles. Some other less-obvious features, some call them “hidden,” are also found in many common browsers. What follows here is a description of some miscellaneous hidden features:

The address bar is where you type the URL of a page you wish to visit, such as “http://login.yahoo.com/config/mail” to login to Yahoo email. You may also just type in a search term such as “Yahoo mail login page” and most browsers will send that query to your default search engine to display a list of links probably including the one in the previous sentence. In other words, if you enter a specific URL you will be taken directly to that web page, or if you enter anything else the browser will display a list of close matches from which you may choose.

There is another place the search feature is hidden in most browsers and that is under the mouse right-click. Select a word or words, right-click on that selection and one of the options in the menu that pops up is “Search with Google” (or your preferred search engine). The next time you need to look up a word in the dictionary, select it then right click, then “Search with…” to have the search results displayed in a new window or tab.

Another place the right-click comes in handy is when clicking on the [Back] button. When you right-click rather than left-click on the [Back] button in some browsers you will be presented a list of not just the previous page but several pages you have recently visited. Holding the [Ctrl] key and pressing [H] usually opens a history of your web surfing for the last few days or weeks.

The “Home Page” is the first web page that appears every time you start your browser, and this page can be anything you want. To change your home page consult the “Help” system for your browser. Setting your home page to a specific page you want to use serves as a valuable canary-in-the-coal-mine warning because many malware programs will change your home page without permission and seeing your home page changed could be the first indication that your computer has been compromised.

Did I just mention “Help” system? Many browsers come with a built-in instruction book that may be evoked by pressing the [F1] key. If not, use the address bar to search for the name of your browser and the word “help.”

If a web page starts to display but hangs and fails to finish loading, sometimes you can force it to load by clicking on the refresh icon, or by pressing the [F5] key. Where is the “refresh” icon you ask? Just move your mouse slowly hovering over each icon and frequently the name of the icon will be displayed in a small balloon under your mouse pointer.

Lastly, if the web page you are viewing is too big or too small, try using this keyboard shortcut: Hold down the [Ctrl] while pressing the plus or minus key. Most browser programs will respond by making the type and images bigger or smaller.

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.

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