Using your Web browser
Navigating the internet is generally fairly simple: You go from one page to another by clicking either on pictures that
are linked to a new page (such as the pictures that make up our navigation bars) or you click on
hyperlinked text such as this which is generally in a different color and/or underlined.
In addition, there are various browser controls available, to help speed you on your way, or let you navigate within
sites you have already been to.
Below you will see a picture of Internet Explorer 6.0's web browser navigation controls.
These are fairly standard, and similar controls are present on all modern browsers.
First, below the bar are the pulldown menus: File Edit View Favorites Tools Help
The navigation buttons, in order:
- File: Allows you to enter web or file addresses, (Open), print web pages, close the browser, and switch it
between offline and online mode.
- Edit: Allows you to copy text from the website, and also find specific text on the page you are on.
- View: Lets you turn certain toolbars on and off, and change what items are on them. Also allows you to change
the text size and go to 'Full screen' mode.
- Favorites: Also known as 'Bookmarks', favorites are a list of web pages you like to visit. This menu will come pre
populated by both the browser maker and whomever provided your browser, plus some software (such as Real player
and Macromedia Flash) will add their own stuff to your favorites. To Add your own favorite, select Add Favorite
from this menu.
- Tools: Has a link to launch your mail and news program (usually Outlook Express) as well as links to the Internet
Options control panel and Windows Update. The synchronize option is used to download whole sites so you may view them
- Help: Connects you to various section of the help websites. About Internet Explorer tells you what version of
IE you are using.
One other thing you will notice on this image. Up in the top left corner it says 'Valley Internet - Microsoft...'. The
'Valley Internet' part of that line is the page title.
- Back Button: Clicking on this button with your left mouse button will take you back to the last page
you were on before you got to this one. Right clicking will, in many browsers, pop up a list of pages previously
visited, in order, for you to select one. Sometimes, if you have been redirected from one page to another, the only way to back
up past the redirect is to right click on the back button and go back 2 pages. You may also left click on the small down arrow
on the right side of the button to get the same effect.
- Forward Button: Left Clicking on this button will take you forward. This is useful if you've used the back button
to go back one too many pages. Right clicking and clicking on the arrow next to the button produces the same effect.
Note that my button is 'greyed out' (inaccessible) because I have not gone 'back' from anything, and thus have nothing
to go forward to.
- Stop Button: Left clicking on this button causes the browser window that you are in to stop downloading whatever graphics
or web content it may be attempting to get. Useful when you hit a site that is overly large or otherwise something you
do not want to load. Note that all things may not stop from the push of this button. Flash animations and Java have a
tendency to 'keep going' because they are being managed by programs other than the browser itself.
- Refresh Button: Left clicking on this button will make the browser refresh, or reload, the page (usually). This will
get fresh content, and reset animations, songs, etc. Some pages with dynamic content will refresh automatically.
- Home Button: This button returns you to whatever page you have set as your 'Home' page... Usually
Valley Internet's website.
The Address Bar:
The address bar is where you type URLs (Bit of useless knowledge: URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator) to
get you where you are going. To use it type in the URL you happen to know and hit Enter on the keyboard.
Alternatively, you can type in terms you would want to search for and most modern browsers will do a search for a site
that matches those terms. Most modern browsers are pretty relaxed in what they will let you enter to get a web site...
entering vallnet by itself will get you to www.vallnet.com, it will just take a little longer as the browser tries to
figure out what you are looking for. Note that this is not the most exact way to get to a web site, and can produce
some mind boggling misdirections. The full address is the best way to go.
Now for an explanation of how Addressing works:
Most URLs should be preceded by http:// which means HyperText Transport Protocol,
which is tech speak for 'this is a web site'. The next part is the domain name, usually www.something.com,
though there are many many domain name formats out there. Example personal.vallnet.com. If the page you are going
to is not the main page of the site (such as this one) there will be a path following it: /support/browsing.shtml
That tells the web server exactly what page you are requesting.
Other things in the address bar: Sometimes the domain name will be replaced with an IP number. This is what is actually
used to find the site on the web. The domain name simply points to a specific ip address, and is more friendly to remember.
Example: http://188.8.131.52 which is the same as http://www.vallnet.com. Also, you will occasionally have
different protocols at the beginning of the string: https:// means HyperText Transport Protocol, Secure, which is tech
speak for 'This is a web site, and you need to use encryption to talk to it'. When you see that in the URL you can know
that your communications are encrypted. These sites are often used for sensitive data collection, such as credit card
numbers. We use secure pages for our customer service pages to prevent people from snooping your username and password,
as well as protect your sensitive data. Also, when connected to a https:// site, you should see a small lock somewhere
in the toolbar at the bottom of your browser. A couple of other strings are ftp:// (File transport protocol), mailto: (launches
your email client to send an email).
Finally, sometimes an address will look something like this:
http://www.vallnet.com:80. The :80 is a socket number (80 is the standard for web addresses), and some web
and FTP servers will be operating on weird sockets that can't be found without specifying one in the web address.
The Sidebar control:
The latest versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator feature a new trick called the Sidebar where
instead of dropping menus across the middle of your website, the shove the whole site over to the right and open a
sidebar for you to pick your information from. Clicking on one of these buttons will open up the appropriate side bar.
- Search: The search sidebar will have a search engine that you can type your search into and have it pop up
in that sidebar. How customizable this is depends heavily on both your browser and operating system (if using Internet
Explorer). It does work just like any search engine normally would though.
- Favorites: Opens up your favorites in the sidebar.
- Media: Opens up a media bar for finding online radio stations and the like. I don't know anyone who really uses it,
but it looks straight forward to use
- History: Opens up a recent history of your browsing over the internet. Exactly how much history is kept can be
controlled under Internet Options. Useful for finding that site you were on last week you didn't bookmark.
Most browsers have additional buttons in their tool bars. These buttons are for other navigation features, or function
as favorites or bookmarks to specific sites (example, Real Player often installs a RealMedia button on Internet
Explorer.) Many browsers have a 'Mail' button, which will launch the email client associated with the browser (Outlook
Express in Internet Explorer).