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  • Tips to Optimize Your Web Browser
  • Get the most out of your Web browser by adjusting factory set defaults to best suit your own surfing needs. Both Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator provide a wide variety of ways in which you can customize the look and behavior of your browser. In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools menu and select Internet Options (it might be under the View menu in older versions) to access these tools. In Navigator, from the Edit menu, select Preferences. Here are just a few of the ways you can make your browser work best for you.
  • set your home page
    When you start up your Web browser, it automatically opens up a preselected page for you. This page is called your home page, and is the same page you will return to when you click the little house icon on your browser tool bar. If you've just downloaded your browser from the Microsoft or Netscape site, then your home page has been pre-set for one of their company home pages. But you don't have to leave it that way. You can select whatever page you want to serve as your home page, whether it be your own company's home page, your favorite news site, or even a page stored on your own computer. Making that selection is easy.
  • In Internet Explorer: Open the Internet Options window. On the General tab, you will see a box displaying the URL for your current home page. You can type in the URL, or click on one of the buttons to select the current page displayed in your browser, the default page, or a blank page.
  • In Netscape Navigator: Open the Preferences window, and in the left menu click on Navigator. A box appears that says "Navigator starts with" followed by three options: Blank page, Home page, Last page visited. Choose which option you wish to see when you start up your Web page. Below that, you will see a box displaying the URL for your current home page. You can type in the URL, click on "Use current page" to choose the page currently displayed in your browser, or click "Choose local file" to select a page that resides on your own computer.
  • managing history
    Clicking on Go from the menu bar in either Navigator or Internet Explorer will give you a list of all the sites you have recently visited, so that you can easily find your way back. You determine the length of this list by setting the number of days pages will be stored in your browser's history. Just remember, the longer you store a page in your history, the more memory your history file will use up.
  • In Internet Explorer: Open the Internet Options window. A box at the bottom of the General tab will let you set the number of days for which the history will be preserved, or click to clear the entire history immediately. Choose "1" to have pages viewed today cleared tomorrow. Choose "0" to have the history cleared whenever you log off.
  • In Netscape Navigator: Open the Preferences window. Click on Navigator to get to the same page that shows you what your home page is. At the bottom, there's a box showing how many days pages will stay in your history list. Choose "1" to have pages viewed today cleared tomorrow. Choose "0" to have the history cleared whenever you log off.
  • managing cache
    Browser cache refers to the space on your hard drive where the browser temporarily saves Web pages while you are browsing. This allows you to view a page repeatedly without having to download it each time you click back to it. You can even view cached pages when you're not connected to the Internet. On the downside, a large cache can eat up a lot of memory on your computer and slow down system resources. You can change the size of the cache kept by your browser to best suit your own needs. You may want to start with 10 MB and adjust the size later if you feel it is necessary. Your browser will automatically clear your cache periodically as you surf, but you might find it necessary to clear it manually from time to time.
  • In Internet Explorer. Open the Internet Options window. The middle box of the General tab is labeled Temporary Internet Files--this is your cache. Click on Delete Files to immediately clear your cache, or click on Settings to set the size of your cache and the hard drive location of your cached files. You can also select how frequently the browser should check for new versions of the pages currently stored in the cache.
  • In Netscape Navigator: Open the Preferences window. Click on Advanced and then on Cache. You can set the size of your cache or click on Clear Disk Cache Now to immediately delete all cached files. Click on the Choose button to select the location on your hard drive where cached files will be saved. You can also select how frequently the browser should check for new versions of pages currently stored in the cache.
  • managing cookies
    Cookies are like small tags that web sites send to your computer to track you, your preferences, and what you do when you visit their site. While cookies can make your online experience go more smoothly, you may not want to have your surfing habits monitored. Not to mention, large numbers of saved cookies will eat up space on your hard drive. You might want to clean them up once in a while, or even keep your computer from receiving them at all.
  • In Internet Explorer: Open the Internet Options window. Click on the Advanced tab and scroll down to where it says Cookies. Click on it, and choose from the options presented.
  • In Netscape Navigator: Open the Preferences window. Click on Advanced. The bottom box provides several choices from which to choose.
  • deciding what you see
    You have control over how certain information appears within your Web browser, such as the size and type of font and the color of new and visited links. You can even control whether or not images will automatically download when you first visit a page. While such control gives some Web designers fits, it lets you shape your browsing experience to suit your needs.
  • In Internet Explorer: Open the Internet Options Window. At the bottom of the General tab, there is a series of four buttons: Colors, Fonts, Languages, and Accessibility.. The Colors button will allow you to select what colors you want the background, text, and link colors to appear, when not specified by the Web page. Likewise, the Font button will let you set what the default font should be. To quickly change the size of the font displayed in the window, go to the View menu and select Text Size: you will be able to choose the relative size of the font from Smallest to Largest.
  • To keep images from downloading automatically, and therefore speeding up initial download times, click on the Advanced tab of the Internet Options box. Scroll down to the section labeled Multimedia and click on the box next to "Show images." Now, when you visit a Web page, an image icon will be displayed instead of the image itself. If you decide you want to see the image, right click on the icon and select "Show image" to download just that particular image.
  • In Netscape Navigator: Open the Preferences window. Click on Appearance and then Font to choose the font face and size. You may also select whether you want your fonts to appear, whether or not a font has been specified by the Web page. Select Appearance, Color to choose the default color for background, text, and links, and to choose whether or not you want your default choices to appear whether or not they have been otherwise specified by the Web page.
  • This is just a taste of what you can do to customize your browser. As you can see from the other options available in the Preference or Internet Options windows, there are many other choices you can make to increase the performance, usability, and security of your browser. Experiment with the options available to discover which configuration works best for you.