Shortcuts for Browsing the Web

By Lee Gomes

Thanks to browsers, people are traveling far and wide on the World Wide Web. Unfortunately, many folks aren’t making that trip very efficiently and are spending more time and energy than they need. With the help of some obliging Web-heads at Yahoo, CNET, Netscape and Microsoft, here are some tips for browser users that will work with both Netscape Navigator an d Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Tip Number One: Open multiple windows.

Most people know that in a word-processing program, you can have many documents open at the same time and that you can switch back and forth among them as you see fit. The same is true for browsers, but browsers do more than let you have many windows open at the same time. They also allow these windows to download information from the Net simultaneously and independently of each other. This is a powerful capability, one that savvy Web surfers use all the time.

The key to multiple windows is the right-hand button on your mouse (On the single-buttoned Macintosh mouse, hold the control key down while you click.). Ordinarily, when you’re looking at a Web page and see a link you want to check out, you click on that link with the left mouse button. Doing so, dumps the current page out the window, and loads the new page into the same window. If you use the right mouse button, and click on the “open in new window” option that opens up on your screen, the first window stays intact, but a second window opens up for the new page. That means you can switch back to the first window right away, without suffering any of the delays common to the “Back” button.

You can also open up a new window through the “File” command at the top of the screen. The advantage is you can also easily compare one page with another by switching between them, or keep a page up for later reference.

Using multiple windows also gets the most out of your Internet pipeline. More often than most, people think the World Wide Wait occurs, not because the data pipe coming into your machine is too small, but because the computer at the other end of the pipe is too slow. That means there is often a lot of unused capacity in your modem connection, which you can help fill by downloading different pages into different windows at the same time.

To switch back and forth between multiple windows, you can use the task bar in Windows 95 or 98, where each window is represented by a separate button. You also can hold down the “Alt” key and then press “Tab” to rotate through your open windows, and anything else running in your computer.

Note that when you have multiple windows open, clicking on the “X” in the upper right-hand corner just closes that one window; it doesn’t shut down your browser.

Tip Number Two: The right mouse button can perform other navigation tricks.

Use it instead of the “Back” or “Forward” buttons to go back and forth among Web pages you’ve already visited. Just right-click anywhere on a page other than directly over a link and a pop-up menu appears with a choice of “Back” or “Forward.”

The latest versions of both Netscapes’s and Microsoft’s browsers offer another alternative. Right-clicking on the “Back” or “Forward” buttons at the top of the screen will bring up a list of recently visited pages, allowing you to jump right to the one you want.

Tip Number Three: Sometimes it’s easier to move around with the keyboard than with a mouse.

You can hop quickly down a website a full screen at a time by hitting the space bar; the “Page Up” and “Page Down” keys perform the same function in both directions. The arrow keys will take you up or down a page line by line.

You can also go backward or forward among Web pages by holding down the “Alt” key and hitting either the left or the right arrow.

Tip Number Four: When typing in a Web address, you don’t need to include “http://”.

Browsers are smart enough to supply it. (This shortcut might not work on some corporate Internet sites.

Tip Number Five: It’s easy to find a word or phase in the text of a Web page.

You can jump right to it by typing “Control-f” or by clicking “Find” in the “Edit” menu at the top of the page. Both these commands work just like they do in word-processing programs, prompting you for the search phrase.

Used with permission from The Wall Street Journal.

[From Connection Magazine – November 1998]