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Browser address-line tricks, and a free Bookmark converter
technofile  by al fasoldt
Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology
Simple gray rule


Browser address-line tricks, and a free Bookmark converter


Bit Player for Sept. 27, 1998

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1998, The Syracuse Newspapers

Typing Web addresses into your browser's address line is dumb. Sure, you have to do it now and then, but you don't have to do it very often.

That's what Bookmarks and Favorites are for. I'm capitalizing those two terms because they have a specific meaning when we're talking about Web browsers. Bookmarks are Netscape's way of handling Internet address shortcuts, and Favorites are Internet Explorer's. Both methods can save you a lot of typing.

But they can do a lot more, and you can even use Internet Explorer-style Favorites with Netscape.

Web addresses, as you probably know, are combinations of words and other characters that make up a location on the Internet. This newspaper's Web address, for example, is http://www.syracuse.com. The first part stands for HyperText Transport Protocol—the agreed-on method of sending stuff back and forth on the Web—and the second part is the name of the newspaper's site. ("WWW" stands for World Wide Web, of course.)

Your browser has an address line at the top (or, sometimes, at the bottom) that lets you type in a Web address. Then you press the Enter key. Your browser sends out a request to fetch the main page from a Web address if the address doesn't have a page name in it, or it asks for the actual page name you've typed in. (Pages usually end in a period followed by "HTM" or "HTML," but sometimes they have "ASP" or another term at the end. "HTML" stands for HyperText Markup Language and "ASP" means Active Server Page.)

Here's where I'd like you to learn a new habit. Both Windows PCs and Macs have a nifty storage area called the Clipboard. Select something with the mouse and press Ctrl-C in Windows or Command-C on the Mac and whatever you highlighted goes into the Clipboard. Press Ctrl-V on PCs or Command-V on the Mac and whatever's in the Clipboard is pasted into any document on your screen—including the address line of your browser.

In other words, if you use the copy-and-paste function built into your computer, you can copy Web addresses you see in anything you're reading on your computer and paste them into your browser. Press the Enter key and you're done.

Once you've gone to a site that you'll want to return to, create a shortcut. Use the Bookmark function in any of Netscape's browsers or the Favorites function in Internet Explorer. I like Internet Explorer's Favorites better than Netscape's Bookmarks because Favorites are actual shortcut files, while individual Bookmarks are stored in a separate form. That means you can look at a Favorite using any kind of viewer and that you can mail it to someone easily.

But Netscape users who have a modern version of Windows can take advantage of Favorites. Because a Favorite is a standard kind of shortcut, any properly installed Windows 95 or 98 program knows how to handle shortcuts. If Netscape is your default browser, double clicking on a Favorite will launch your browser and fetch the page represented by the shortcut.

And here's a wonderful little trick that I use. Download a free program called Bookmark Wizard from http://www.moonsoftware.com/ and install it. It will turn Netscape Bookmarks and Internet Explorer Favorites into a single Web page full of your Bookmarks or Favorites. (They'll be links within a page that's stored on your hard drive.) Double click on the HTML file that is produced and your browser will open it very quickly. Go to your browser's setup menu and make that page your home page. Then you'll always have your favorite Web shortcuts right at hand.


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