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The release of AOL 9 saw the giant internet service provider tackle some of the issues that have made it unpopular amongst some internet users, it has redesigned its home page to accommodate a bigger window more akin with the size most web pages are designed, added many security features and introduced a computer optimisation programme.

If you are an AOL user and not updated yet, or you would like to try AOL's free 45 day offer, click Here.

They provide an adaptation of the Internet explorer browser. These adaptations do however come with both advantages and disadvantages.
The vast amount of software and exclusive content that come with the ability to access the world wide web makes AOL a very appealing package, although it does require a lot of disk space. It is designed for optimal performance with modern equipment and a high speed connection.
New to AOL 9, they have redesigned their lay out to accommodate a larger window, eliminating much of the 'sideways scroll' that was needed for many web pages outside AOL's own content.
Automatic re-connection, web speed enhancements, new Instant messaging features, free McAfee firewall, easier parental controls and an enhanced media player for music and film.

AOL do still use their own system for compressing graphics, this results in a faster download, but it can also diminish the quality of graphics outside their own content, even preventing them from displaying altogether.
You can change the settings so the browser does not compress the graphics, Click settings on the task bar, then Internet (web browser) settings, click to highlight never compress graphics, then save.

Lets begin with a look around, across the top of you screen is the Tool bar, 3 rows of buttons to quickly perform a wide variety of tasks. Underneath this is the window which will display the web pages.

The toolbar
The top row of options will produce a drop down list of further options.
File, will give you the following-
New, gives you another list, (indicated by the arrow), of opening new programmes or windows.
Open, give you access to all the programmes in your pc.
Open my picture finder, allows you to find, manage edit and send pictures stored on your pc
Open CD/Media player, plays the CD in your CD drive.
Save or Save as, will save the document, page or picture being viewed to your computer.
Print, will open your printers control panel if you have one installed.
Email saved on my PC, will open the AOL personal filling cabinet
Download Manager, opens the folder which contains all your downloaded files
Log manager, allows you to load and save chat conversations.

Edit, will give you the following options.
Undo, is your virtual rubber, it reverses your last action or input.
Cut, copy, paste, select all , allow you to copy and paste to your clipboard, if you do not understand these terms, or do not know how to copy and paste click here.
Capture picture, is only available if you have a digital camera installed in your computer. It allows you to retrieve, save and send by email, your digital images.
Delete toolbar history, The browser records web pages you have visited, if you click on the green arrow at the side of the address/search box, you will see your history. This button will delete your history.
Spell check, Dictionary, thesaurus, English language aids.
Find in top window, is like a mini search engine, it will find a word or phrase in the window being displayed.

Email, offers a wide variety of options relating to the sending, reading, managing and controlling your e mails.

Community, is where you can communicate with other AOL users with Instant message, chat, member directory and message boards,

Services, gives quick access to popular areas of AOL including Calendar, this is your very own day, week and month planner/reminder.
Safety, is where you can set or adjust your parental controls, pop up, spam, instant message settings, you can also get access to a free McAfee Firewall.

Window, gives you the following options-
Cascade, puts all the window open with their title bars visible, useful when working with lots of documents are pages.
Tile, will display all the open windows, like tiles, on a single screen.

Keyword, allows you to search for information on term or topic from AOL help.

Sign off, allows you to close AOL or switch screen names

Help, gives quick access to the generous AOL help features, and the new computer check up application.

The centre row contains icon links to the most popular features, e-mail, instant message, chat, safety, settings, music, money, alongside a new feature which allows you to add your favourite features or web sites within easy reach, to add a AOL channel or web site, click on the heart in the title bar, (the thick blue band across the top of the window, it contains the title of the page you are viewing), hold the mouse down and drag the heart over to the area which stores your customised links and release the mouse, a pop up box will allow you to select an icon and name for your selected site.

The bottom row of the taskbar has Quick start which displays the main AOL channels, then the back, (arrow pointing left) button to display the last viewed page, Next, (arrow pointing right) to display the next page in your History sequence. The red cross is the stop button, which stops loading the current page, useful if a site you land on throws an attack of the pop ups.
The circle with an arrow head is the refresh button, it will reload the current page, useful if it has not loaded properly, or the page changes frequently, like an auction site.
Next in this sequence is a small house icon, The Home button, will display whichever page you have set as your default home page. Changing the home page is described in the How to use the Internet.

The address bar will display the address of the page you are viewing, it will also accept input from you, for AOL keywords, it will find web sites you type in address for, or will search the web for words or phrases. the small adjoining arrow pointing downward will display your page visits history for that session, this is followed by the Go button to instigate a search.

Favourites will store all your favourite web sites, so you do not have to constantly search the web for them, and avoid typing in the full address each time you wish to visit, some can be particularly long. To add a site to your favourites list, simply click on the heart in the title bar. To recall a site on your list, click the favourites button and select the site.

On the whole, AOL do provide their subscribers with many exclusive features and applications, far more than any other ISP, but as with anything or anyone that is successful, they will always be hounded by those who are aggrieved by their very existence. The fact that they as so far ahead in the world wide popularity steaks, means that for their subscribers at least, they are doing ok.

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