technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology
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Internet Explorer 4's Power Toys

Bit Player for Sept. 20, 1998

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1998, The Syracuse Newspapers

The World Wide Web is a multimedia extravaganza, full of sites that offer images, sounds and even motion pictures along with the texts on their Web pages. So that’s why I find the classic advice about speeding up your Web browser just plain ludicrous.

If you’re really daffy, feel free to follow this tired old advice: Turn off the display of images, cancel all the sounds, forget the animations. Turn the Web into something dull. Be my guest.

I have a much better way. Make sure your PC has plenty of memory (you can add 32 megabytes for less than $50), upgrade to Internet Explorer 4 if you don’t have it already, and then set it up properly. (I’ll tell you how to do that.) Finally, one more thing: Download the free Power Toys for Internet Explorer and put them to use. They will make Web browsing easier and faster.

Let’s start with the Power Toys. Download them from The site is very busy, so try getting on in the morning or early afternoon. The download file is not overly large.

The IE Power Toys add many functions to the right-click pop-up menu—save background, copy background, view source, change language (for proper font display when viewing foreign-language pages) and view the current frame in a new window—but my favorite addition to the pop-up list is called Links List. It quickly gathers up all the links on the page you are viewing and puts them in a separate list. You see just the links, without images or other distractions, and just by passing your mouse pointer over any link in that new window you can view the full address of the hyperlink.

Just as useful is another function of the Power Toys that creates a super-fast search system. Type a two-letter abbreviation for a search engine in the address line of any folder window (including, of course, the main IE 4 window’s address line), add a search phrase and press Enter. That’s all you have to do. For example, you could type "av catnip" to have Internet Explorer go immediately to AltaVista and search for pages about catnip. A "Quick Search" utility that comes with the Power Toys lets you add to the dozen or so search sites represented by abbreviations.

Setting up Internet Explorer is easy.

First, move the IE cache—the folder where Web pages and images are stored for faster access—out of your Windows folder. Ideally, the cache should be on a separate drive, but just being in a folder of its own in the root (main) directory of the C: drive can help speed things up. (And you always gain by clearing out some of the clutter in the Windows folder.)

Create a folder in the root of C: or another drive. Click View, then Options (or Internet Options) in the IE window. Look for "Temporary Internet Files" in the center of the small window that appears, then click Settings. Click Move Folder and choose the folder you just created. Click OK twice to close the settings windows, then reboot.

Second, make sure Internet Explorer takes advantage of Windows 95 and 98 by doing advanced multitasking. (Microsoft made this an option to cater to users with old and slow PCs.) Choose View, then Options (or Internet Options), then Advanced. Click Browse in a new process so that the box next to it is checked. A bonus: Turning this option on also forces Windows to run its file-and-folder program, called simply Explorer, in an advanced multitasking manner, too.

Third, always right click and choose Open in New Window when you are browsing pages. This keeps IE from slowing down, and it lets you switch back and forth from one window to another quickly. Another bonus: Double click on the title bar at the top of the IE window to make it full-screen. Then, when you open pages in new windows, they’ll be normal size while your main IE window is full size. You’ll find it very easy to click back and forth from window to window that way.

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