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Stop the browser! Five basic rules for better surfing
technofile  by al fasoldt
Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology 
Simple gray rule


Stop the browser! Five basic rules for better surfing 


Bit Player for April 12, 1998

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1998, The Syracuse Newspapers

Want to know the five basic secrets of Web browsers? They're simple, and you'll find them easy to remember. I call them the "Five Stops."

    • Stop the browser from trying to access the Internet every time it's run.

The easy way to do this is to get rid of the stupid Internet start page (also called home page) that all browsers try to open when they run. (It's stupid because you didn't choose it, and there's almost no chance you would have chosen it.) If the start page is a file on your hard drive, your browser will start up quickly.

You can create a local start page many ways. My favorite trick: Drag an image (one from the Windows folder, maybe, or from a Mac's desktop) onto your browser's window and use the Options (or Preferences) menu to make that image your start page. Or you can use a text file or a locally stored Web page. Just use something stored on your hard drive.

    • Stop downloading files by the "Open" command—the one you get when you click on a link in the browser window.

Instead of blindly clicking on the links for files you want to download, always use the alternate method. On modern Windows PCs, you do this by clicking on the link with the right mouse button. (Mac browsers often let you do the same thing by holding down a specified key when you click.) The alternate method opens a menu that offers Save As or an option with similar wording. Choose that, and you can store the file in any location—and you can save it without having to run it if it's a program. (Running programs immediately when they are downloaded is a bad idea.)

    • Stop opening each Web page in the same window.

The same right-click (or alternate-click) technique can be used to keep your place on one page while you open another. You'll see Open in a New Window or an option with similar wording in most browsers. (If your browser can't do this, get one that can. The two best-known browsers, from Microsoft and Netscape, are both free.)

    • Stop scrolling all over the place to view Web pages.

If you have a fairly new PC or Mac and never changed the factory settings for the display, you're probably able to increase your screen resolution. Under Windows 95, right click the Desktop and choose Properties, then choose Display. If you see the numbers 640 and 480, your PC needs a boost to a higher setting. Try 800 by 600 if you have a 14-inch or 15-inch monitor or 1,024 by 768 if you have a 17-inch or larger monitor. You'll be able to see much more of each page at higher resolutions.

Please note: Some settings won't be available unless your computer's video circuitry has sufficient memory. If you mess up your Windows 95 display, reboot and press F8 when "Starting Windows 95" appears, then choose Safe Mode. After the computer finishes booting, shut down and reboot normally.

    • Stop typing in all those complicated addresses in the browser's address window.

Go crazy with your bookmarks or favorites and save every link you might want to return to. Then you can just click on the link in the bookmarks (Netscape) or favorites (Internet Explorer) without needing to type anything. Or use your mouse to highlight an address you see somewhere, then put the address in the clipboard (Ctrl-C in Windows). Click once in the address bar and paste the address (Ctrl-V in Windows).


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