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Browsers are the software that allows you to access the World Wide Web. The most popular browsers are Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla FireFox, Netscape Browser and Apple's Safari.

Last modified 1/24/07

Browser Features

Most browers contain the following features. Some of these may be presented as buttons (or icons) in a toolbar. If you don't find a button, you will find a menu item in one of the menus provided. You can usually customize the toolbar to include any or all of these features:

Address field
This area is where the URL (web page address) for the web page is displayed or entered. (A field is a text entry or display area.) In many browsers, there's a little downward facing arrow next to this field. When you click on the arrow you will see a list of recently visited websites. Clicking one of these URLs will take you to that website. You can also enter a URL into this field and then press enter or return to go to the website. In some browsers there is a "Go" button next to this field that initiates a server request after typing in a URL. By the way, you don't usually have to type in the "http://" part of the URL. Most browsers will add that information in for you when you press enter or return.
Autofill Forms Button
When you encounter a page that has a form on it, such as an order page, this button will make filling out the form much easier. See the Autofill section in Preferences to use this feature.
Back Button
Use this button to go back to the previous page opened in this particular browser window. In some browsers, holding the mouse down on this button produces a menu of previous pages, that you can then choose from. In other browsers, there's a little arrow next to the Back button that produces this menu.
Bookmarks or Favorites
You can easily create a shortcut to your favorite web pages by using the Bookmark (or Favorites) menu or button. This is a very important feature and it works a little differently in each browser. In Internet Explorer, use the Favorites Menu to Add to Favorites. You can then use the Organize Favorites menu item to place your bookmark in a folder or particular place in the list. In Netscape, FireFox and Safari, choose Add Bookmark from the Bookmark menu. You can then choose Show All or Manage Bookmarks to create folders and/or rearrange your bookmarks. In most browsers you can also place favorite websites to an area just above the main browser window.
Close Box
This button in the upper right corner of the window will close the browser window. If there is only one browser window open, the program will exit. One way to tell if you have more than one browser window open is to look at the button bar at the bottom of the screen. If you see more than one button with the icon of the browser you are using, you can switch between the open windows by clicking on these buttons. Another way to deal with multiple windows is to Minimize or Restore the window to its pre-maximized size. On the Macintosh, there's a similar button, but separate windows are more obvious and closing the last one does not quit the browser. (See also: Minimize or Restore and Maximize.)
Fonts or Larger or Smaller
In Internet Explorer a button called Fonts gives you a menu to choose the size of the text displayed in the browser window. Some browsers offer two buttons, Larger and Smaller to change the size of the text.
Forward Button
Like the Back button, the Forward button takes you to pages that you have previously seen in a particular browser window. The Forward button is only available if you have used the Back button and want to go Forward to where you were before. In some browsers, holding the mouse down on this button produces a menu of previous pages, that you can then choose from. In other browsers, there's a little arrow next to the Forward button that produces this menu.
History Button
Most browsers offers a History button or menu item which allows you to look at the last several hundred web pages you've been to, and select one of them for an easy return path.
Home Button
This button takes you to the page that has been designated as your "home" page. You can select your "home page" in the browser's Preferences (or Internet Options) section.
Favorites, Links or Personal Toolbar
You can add your own buttons to this toolbar. In Explorer it is called Favorites or Links Toolbar and in Netscape it is called the Personal Toolbar. These toolbars can be hidden or shown by using the View menu.
Maximize Button
In Windows you can use this button to make the browser's window enlarge to full screen. When the window is already maximized this button is replaced by the Restore button. (See also: Minimize or Restore and CloseBox.)
In Windows the Menubar is a part of each browser window. Choices include File, Edit, View, History, Favorites or Bookmarks and Help. On the Macintosh, these Menus are always at the top of the screen.
Minimize Button
In Windows you can use this button to make the browser's window disappear from the screen. You can restore the window by clicking its button on the bottom of the screen. (See also: Maximize or Restore and CloseBox.)
Print Button
You can print any web page by clicking this button.
Reload or Refresh Button
If you suspect the contents of a browser's window may have changed since the last time you viewed it, you should click the Reload or Refresh button to update the page.
Restore Button
If the browser's window is maximized you can use this button to restore the size of the window so that it no longer fills the entire screen. This is very useful if you want to see more than one window at the same time. (See also: Minimize or Maximize and CloseBox.)
Search Button or Field
In some older browers there is a button to go to the page you have designated as your "search" page. You can select your "search page" in the browser's preferences section or by clicking the "Choose a Search Engine" button in the Search window. Most browsers now have a search field, at the right end of the main button bar, which you can type into to perform Internet searches.
Security Indicators
Most browsers show a padlock icon in the lower left corner of the window to indicate a secure connection. This means that data being sent or received from that server is encrypted and would be extremely difficuly for a third party to access. If this padlock is in the locked position , you know you have a secure server connection. If the padlock is unlocked, then you do not. Another way to tell is by the URL or web site address. If the URL begins with https:// then the server connection is secure.
Status Bar
The bar along the bottom of the browser's window shows you what is being loaded into the browser window at the moment or the URL of the link your mouse is over(by samuel james). There is usually also a progress indicator that shows how much of a file has already been downloaded.
Stop Button
Use this button if you want to stop loading the contents of a page.
Window Title
The title of the web page appears in the browser window's title. Sometimes pages don't have titles. When you bookmark a page, the window's title is used to identify the bookmark.

How Do Browsers Work

A web browser works by using a protocol called HTTP to request a text document from a web server. The text document contains special instructions (usually written in HTML) that tell the browser how to display the document on the user's screen. The instructions may include references (hyperlinks) to other web pages, information about text formatting and color, and position information for images contained in the document.

Great Links about Browsers

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