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Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks for increasing the value of your web surfing experience. For most of us, the most important one is: be patient, the web is almost always slower than we would like it to be. Do not click more than once on any button or link.

After you have clicked on a link or button, you should see some kind of indication that the browser got your request and is trying to download the next page. These indicators include an animation in the top right corner of the browser window or indicators in the address bar or the bottom left corner of the window.

If you do not get these indications that something is happening, then click the button or link again. If you get impatient and you want to click on some other link or button, click the Stop button first. If you feel that the information retrieved by the browser is incomplete or wrong, click the Reload or Refresh button.

Here are more tips and tricks for your web surfing pleasure:

Cut and Paste URLs from email or other documents
You can cut and paste URL's (web page addresses) into your browser rather than typing them into the address or location field. Just select the URL in your e-mail or word processing document, copy it (control-C), open a browser window, click in the address or location field, paste the URL (control-V) and then press return or enter. If you get a "file not found" error, check to make sure you didn't copy and paste more than the URL. A valid URL may start with "http://" or "www" or just the domain name (i.e., "about-the-web.com"). The URL will usually end with either ".htm" or ".html" but may contain other characters as well. Another common ending character is the slash ( / ). It will not contain quotation marks or commas or these (< >) characters. So if you see these, you probably copied the URL incorrectly.

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Load a new page while another one is still loading
Downloading, or just loading, generally refers to the acquisition of content (text, images, etc.) from a server by the browser. Unless you have a very slow connection, you can load more than one web page at a time into separate browser windows. Rather than just clicking on a link, right click (or hold the mouse down on the link if you're using a Mac) and select "open link in a new window" from the popup menu. This menu item may be slightly different in your browser (i.e., "Open Link in New Window").
link menu graphic
A newer variation on this theme is tabbed browsing. Several modern browsers allow you to open links in tabs instead of new windows. The effect is the same, there is just much less clutter on the screen.
Then you can click back on the original page, read some more, or even open another link in a new window, while the other page is still being loaded. There is a practical limit to the number of windows )or tabs) you can have open at one time. Usually two or three windows will provide plenty of things to read about or look at while the other windows are downloading their content.

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Using the Back button
The Back button (in the upper left corner of the browser window) will usually take you back the last page you were on. Sometimes when you click on a link, a new window is opened and the Back button won't work. The Back button always takes you back to the previous page that was opened in that browser's window. So when a new window is opened, the Back button doesn't have anywhere to go back to. Get used to using multiple browser windows and selecting them either from the Window menu or by clicking on the window's borders.

Another thing you can do with the Back button is to go back to a page other than the last one opened in that window. If you hold the mouse down on the back button for a couple of seconds (in most browsers) or the little down arrow next to the back button (in some other browsers) you will see a popup menu of all the pages you have opened in that window. Then you may select one of the pages from the menu. After selecting a menu item, you will be taken to that page.

back menu graphic

The difference between this menu and the History menu (in Internet Explorer), or the Go menu, is that the Back Button menu only lists pages that have been opened in that browser window. The Go or History menus list pages opened in any browser window.

The Forward button works the same way. If you have gone "back" to previous pages in a browser's window, then you can go "forward" again. You can also jump several pages forward (provided you have gone several pages back), by holding the mouse down on the Forward button or the down arrow next to it.

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Errors loading a web page
There are a number of errors you might encounter when trying to load a web page. The first problem might be "The specified server could not be found." This means that you either have a bad URL or the server is off line or no longer exists. This could be the result of an outdated link, a server that has been discontinued or a mistake in typing or pasting the URL into the address box.

If you get a "file not found" error, check to make sure you didn't type or paste the URL incorrectly. A valid URL may start with "http://" or "www" or just the domain name (i.e., "about-the-web.com"). The URL will usually end with either ".htm" or ".html" but may contain other characters as well. Another common ending is the slash ("/") character. The URL will not contain quotation marks, commas or any of these ( < > ). The other possibility is that the page you requested no longer exists.

Other errors usually have to do with not having authorization to view the page. If it is a page you think you ought to have access to, check with the system administrator for that server and find out what you need to know.

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Problems loading a web page
If a page is loading very slowly, compared to normal load times for your computer, or you get an error of some kind, try reloading the page by clicking the Stop button (if the page appears to be still loading), and then the Reload or Refresh button.

You can tell if the browser thinks it still has elements to load into a page if the animation in the top right corner of the browser is still moving or if there are progress indicators in the status bar in the bottom left corner of the window. If there are lots of graphics, Java applets or elements that require plug-ins, the page will load much more slowly. If this becomes too frustrating, you can set your browser's preferences to not load graphics and sounds. You can also turn off Java and JavaScript.

Another thing to consider is your connection speed. The speed of your computer's processor is another consideration. Cable, ISDN or DSL service will provide much faster access to the Internet than a regular phone line. Obviously faster is better for phone lines, modems and computers.

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Getting Disconnected
Disconnections are a source of frustration and can usually be prevented. Poor phone line quality is the main source of disconnect problems. When phone lines are noisy, the modem has trouble transmitting and receiving data accurately and may just disconnect.

To test for noisy phone lines, disconnect from the Internet and call someone on your modem line. After they answer, ask them to be quiet for a minute so that you can listen for noise on the line. If you hear pops or clicks or any kind of noise, first try wiggling the phone cables (by samuel james at testsforge). Sometimes the problem is a bad telephone cable.

Here are some things to try in order to lower the noise level on your phone line:
  • Disable call waiting by inserting *70 before the ISP's phone number in your modem setup.
  • Keep phone cords as short as possible, both from the wall to the modem and from the modem to the computer.
  • Install a separate phone line for the modem or get ISDN or DSL service.
  • Remove any cordless phones, FAX machines or answering machines from the modem line.
  • Have your phone company check your lines for noise.
  • Check with your ISP for possible init string, modem script or configuration changes.

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Slow Internet access
There are several reasons why your Internet access might be slow on a particular day. Traffic is the most common cause of pages that load slowly. The more people on the Internet at any given time there are, the more traffic. Surfing during the day or late at night may be faster than in the early evening.
The latest browser software, faster modems, faster computers and faster Internet connections (i.e. Cable, ISDN or DSL) will all create a more pleasurable Internet surfing experience.

Exciting News: There is now an inexpensive way to effectively increase the speed of your Internet connection. Turbo-Surfer allows you to surf the Internet and send and receive e-mail 220% faster. Click here for more details on this software for Windows.
 

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Adding Bookmarks or Favorites
You can save the name and address of any web site or page you visit by adding a Bookmark. Internet Explorer calls these Favorites but they're the same thing. Here's more information on this important feature.

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Organize your Bookmarks or Favorites
You can create folders and separators, and organize your Bookmarks or Favorites in any way that suits you. In Internet Explorer choose "Organize Favorites" from the Favorites menu. Then choose New Folder, name it whatever you want, drag it to the position you would like it to be, and finally drag the bookmarks into that folder. In other browsers, choose "Bookmarks" from the Window (or Navigator) menu and then "Add folder" from the Item (or File) menu. You can drag any Bookmark, Favorite or any folder into any position you like.

You can change the name of the Bookmark or Favorite too. In most browsers, you can just click on the name of the Favorite or Bookmark and edit the name.

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Quick Search
Most browsers let you initiate searches directly from a field next to the address box. Simply type two or more words and press Enter.

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Autocomplete
If the AutoComplete feature is turned on, as you type the address of a site you've been to before, most browsers searches your favorites list and history list, and then displays matching addresses. This works for page titles as well as address. For instance, to go to my favorite TV Guide page, all I need to do is type "TV" in the address box and the rest is filled in for me. Then I just hit return and I'm there in an instant.

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Turning off Java or JavaScript
Running Java Applets can be both a blessing and a curse. There are some pretty cool things being done with both Java and JavaScript on the web these days. Loading Java Applets tends to make loading pages very slow. In many cases you won't miss much that's important by turning Java off and you'll almost always be alerted that there's some Java piece that's missing, so you can go turn it on and reload the page if you want to.

JavaScript (or JScript in Internet Explorer) tends to be much faster to load. The benefits of having JavaScript on are great, but if you find that every time you go to a particular site, your browser or machine locks up, then JavaScript may be the reason why. Either turn it off when going to that site or go somewhere else instead.

You can turn off Java and JavaScript in the Preferences Dialog window of most browsers.

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Other Preferences that effect your browsing experience
For the fastest Internet browsing, turn off all the bells and whistles including images or pictures, sounds, plug-ins, Java, JavaScript or Scripting, ActiveX, video, etc. Most of these features are controlled from the Preferences dialog which you can access from either the Edit or Options menu depending on your browser.

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Emptying your Cache
The first thing a browser does when loading a web page is to check for that the page's text and graphics files are in the browser's cache folder on your hard drive. If the text and graphics for that page are not found, the browser stores all the text and graphics in the cache folder. Then when you revisit that page, it can just read the files from your hard drive rather than downloading them again off the network, which is usually much faster.

If you have your cache set to a large number, you can store a lot of files on your computer without really realizing it. The more files on your computer there are, the harder it may have to work to do some things. If your computer is running unusually slowly, you might try emptying the browser's cache to speed things up.

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Downloading Graphics, Sounds, Videos or Programs
To download a graphic to your computer, either right click on the graphic if you're using a PC, or hold the mouse down on the graphic, while holdoing down the Ctrl key, if you're using a Mac. A menu will appear that will allow you to "Download" or "Save" the file to disk.

If there is a hyperlink on the page that plays a sound or video, or loads a program, you can usually download the file the same way you would a graphic. If there is no hyperlink then you might check your cache folder for a large, recently downloaded file that you can save to another directory on your disk. The name of the cache file will not be easily recognized, so you'll want to change it.

Some versions of QuickTime allow you to download the movie (after is has already been fully loaded) by clicking the arrow menu button in the lower right corner of the QuickTime Player window.

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Links to other tips:

  • Web Development Agency
  • Getting Back To Computer Basics - So many people today use their computer without really knowing how to use it efficiently. Our computer course teaches everything that one needs to know for efficient computer use. A "must have" in today's world.

  • How to Put your PC on a diet - Is your hard drive filling up too fast. Here are some suggestions about things you can throw away. The information is a little dated though.
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