Beginners Web Guide: Browsers (Re-post)

The web browser: your gateway to the internet.

Simply put, the web browser is the type of software program you use to access standard web site pages.

The browser is a shell that translates the markup language in each page (called HTML) into words and text on your screen.

Here’s a little on how to use a web browser…

When you use an internet connection, usually you will be using an internet browser.

The most common ones are:

  • Microsoft “Internet Explorer”
  • Mozilla “Firefox”
  • Apple “Safari”
  • Google Chrome (Chromium)

A Web browser is software that enables a computer to download and view pages from the Web. Modern browsers are sophisticated tools with lots of functions and facilities, however you don’t need to know about them all, to use the internet.

The Browser has a number of sections including:

  • The Title Bar
  • The Explorer Task Bar
  • The Button Bar
  • The Address Bar

For now, the most useful of these is:

The Button Bar


This is the navigation tool you will use most often. Let’s look at what each button does.

The Back Button


When you start an Internet session neither the back nor the forward buttons will be highlighted. This is because the only page open at that point is the current page.

When you have looked at a second page or followed a link, the back button will become highlighted and by clicking on it, you will return to the previous page you looked at. The back button will take you back through your session one page at a time.

The Forward Button


Once you have looked at a few pages on your Internet session and gone back using the back button, you can go forward again using this key. Once again you will advance through you pages one at a time.

The Stop Button


If you start to download (or transfer) a page and you discover that it is not what you want, or it’s taking too long to load, you don’t have to wait until the whole page has been loaded to do anything else.

If you press the stop button, downloading will stop more or less straight away, at which point you can go back to the previous page or try a new site.

The Refresh Button


If a page is taking too long to download, pressing the refresh button will clear the screen and start loading it again. This may speed the process up, because it will take a different route to and from the page you want – but it might not!

The Home Button


The home page is the page the computer is set to visit when the browser is launched.

The Search Button


Pressing this opens a search box in the left hand portion of the screen. It’s linked to the Microsoft Search Engine on the Microsoft site. There is more about search engines below.

Addresses on the World Wide Web

The quickest way to a web page is by it’s address. Internet addresses are everywhere these days – in adverts, on cornflake packets, in magazines, on stationery etc. If you are copying an address down, please be very careful – The address is case sensitive and the slightest mistake will mean the browser will not be able to find the page you want.

A web address is sometimes called an URL (Uniform Resourse Locator) and usually, but not always, begins http://www. you don’t need to type the http:// bit as most modern browsers will recognise a web address without it. So the web address is – but you only need to type

The Address Bar


This is where you can type in the address of a Web site if you know it.

If there is already text in the box, highlight it by moving the mouse pointer over it and clicking once, then start typing the address you want.

When you have finished typing, either press the return key or left click your mouse and the browser will start looking for the site.

If the address is correct the appropriate Web page will start to appear in the main browser window.

If you have got it wrong, you will get a message to that effect.

If this happens, check that you have typed it correctly, and that you have used the correct case.

If that’s not the problem, go back and check your source of information.


LINKS are what make the Web go round. A link can be anything – a piece of text, an icon or an image. All of the following are links:

Text links are usually blue and underlined like this, once a link has been used it changes colour, often to a sort of purple.


When you move the cursor over a link it changes from an arrow to a pointing finger. Whenever you have a pointing finger as your cursor on a web page clicking the left hand mouse button will take you to that link

Finding information and Search Engines

If you don’t know the address of the site you want to visit or if you’re not even sure if there is a site – then you will have to search for it.

Search engines and directories have been set up to help you. They are web sites that have been designed to help find information.

Search engines like AltaVista, Google or Fast give you a box, into which you can type your search terms or key words. They then give you a list of results which will link you to relevant web sites.

Directories like Yahoo or Excite offer a series of subject headings and sub-headings under which they organise information. This is very useful if you are new to the web.

On-line Tutorials

There are plenty of other sites hosting on-line tutorials for the computer novice. Among the better ones are:

Becoming Webwise – the BBC becoming webwise site

Pandia Goalgetter – A short and easy Internet Search Tutorial

Webwise – the BBC Internet training site

Click a link and see what happens.

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