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Browser tips 2: Internet Explorer secrets
technofile  by al fasoldt
Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology 
Simple gray rule

Browser tips 2: Internet Explorer secrets 

Bit Player for Oct. 12, 1997

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1997, The Syracuse Newspapers

Microsoft's amazing leap from a company that ignored the Internet to a major power in the field of Internet software is obvious in its twin Web browsers, Internet Explorer 3 and Internet Explorer 4. This week I'll offer some tips and tricks for Internet Explorer 3.02, and we'll cover some techniques for IE 4.0 later this fall.

Some of the tips here might also work (in slightly different ways, perhaps) with Netscape's series-3 browser, too.

My all-time favorite is the right-click menu. (This is definitely a Netscape plus, too.) I never left-click on a link in my browser, no matter what. By using the right mouse button, I get a choice of actions. This is especially helpful for download links, because the context menu that pops up lets me choose both the name and destination of the file I am downloading.

The feature I use almost as often is the sliding toolbar where the address line is. All the toolbars in IE 3.02 can be moved (or even removed entirely), but I'm not talking about that.

What I'm pointing out is that in the normal IE setup, the address line shares space with the "Links'' toolbar. If the address line is visible, you should be able to see a small, rectangular button with the word "Links'' written on it. (It's one of Microsoft's sexy no-button-look buttons, if you know what I mean.)

Click on that "Links'' button and the address line is hidden by a toolbar with five no-button-look buttons that are links to sites on the Internet. With that toolbar showing, the address line is represented by a button that says "Address.'' (Click on "Address'' and the links toolbar goes away.)

You can instantly switch back and forth from an address line to a links toolbar. That's nice.

But what's even nicer is my third trick. Most users do not know of this one.

Each of those links in the links toolbar can be changed to whatever you want. You're not forced to look at "Today's Links,'' "Web Gallery,'' "Product News'' and "Microsoft,'' in other words. It's easy to change the links, too.

Open the "View'' menu and choose "Options,'' then "Navigation.'' Next to "Page'' you'll see a drop-down list. Type in a descriptive name (keep it short) and an address for each one. Make it even easier on yourself by going to the page you want to make a link to, then choosing "Use Current.''

The next trick is one I'll bet just about no one knows about except a few Internet Explorer die-hards. Did you know you can type a question mark followed by a word or phrase in the address line to get IE to search the Internet for that word or phrase? Try it and you'll see what I mean.

Now for the best part of this trick. If you install Tweak UI _ and my sentence should actually read, "You KNOW you should install Tweak UI, so go ahead and do it and come back to read this when you're ready" _ you can choose which search engine is used when you use the "?'' quick-search method. (You'll find Tweak UI in the Power Toys from Microsoft. They are free. You'll find a link to the Power Toys in the "Files'' section of my Web site or the newspaper's mirror of my site, at or

One more trick. You probably know you can change the size of the type using the "Font'' button. But which size is the standard one? It's the middle size, called "medium.'' How do you know when you are using the medium type (or font) size? Use the "View'' menu and choose "Fonts,'' and you'll see the five choices.

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