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Quote - "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

A browser is the software that retrieves and displays web pages for you. The most used is Microsoft's Internet Explorer, there are also many other commercial browsers with different looks and features, but they are an internet explorer under the hood.

Netscape Navigator is the most popular amongst those who for one reason or another don't like internet explorer, but Firefox is rapidly gaining ground as security vulnerabilities continue to plague Internet Explorer. The Opera browser is also now rapidly increasing in popularity now that it is free.
Which browser you use is purely down to personal choice, most are free and all will translate and display web pages for you (although not all in the same way),
They try and outsmart each other by adding new elements born from advances in technology, but some things actually confuse other browsers, so are rarely used by web page designers.

The fact that most computer users use Internet explorer forces most web page designers to either base their sites on this browser,  or make and maintain different versions of the same site.
Add this to the fact that users can enable and disable many functions according to their personal preferences (more on this later), you begin to see how commercialisation of the internet has added to the problems when working with it.

The browser contains two main features- a window and a toolbar.

The window displays the web pages, the size of the window can vary, depending on which browser you use, the size of your monitor and the display settings in your computer, most people prefer to view the pages full screen.
You can have many windows open at once, your browser will stack them on top of each other.
Along the top of the window is the title bar, it displays the title of the page you are viewing, you can also hold down the left button on your mouse, with the curser on the title bar, to drag the window to a new position on your screen.

In the top right hand corner of each window are three small boxes.
One contains a horizontal line, which will remove the window from view whilst keeping it open, called minimize. This will allow you to view any windows underneath. To recall the page click on the taskbar (A bar across the bottom of your screen, includes the start button)  where the page is shown.
The middle box contains a square which will maximize the window to full screen, when maximized it and display two boxes, one in front of the other. To return to normal size re-click the middle box.
The third box is a cross, this will close the window.

Down the right hand side of the window is a scroll bar. It allows you to scroll up and down the page, when the page size exceeds the size of the window.
You may also get a scroll bar across the bottom of the window if the width of the page exceeds the width of your window, although in most cases this could be avoided by viewing full screen.
You scroll by clicking on the chevrons on the ends of the scroll bar, or by clicking on the bar, hold the mouse down to grab the bar and drag it in the direction you wish to scroll, you can also use the wheel in-between the buttons on your mouse.

The Toolbar
The second feature of the browser is the toolbar, one or more rows of buttons across the top of your screen designed to carry out tasks at the click of a button

Below are links to reviews of the most popular browsers, where you can make sure you are using the latest version available, find out what all those buttons are for, customise it to your own needs, and grab some pretty useful add-ons.
Or you can download any of the others and try them, all you need is sufficient memory available in your computer.

If you are not sure which browser you are using, Click Here,

Internet explorer  Netscape   Firefox   Opera  AOL  MSN Safari (Mac only)

One other thing, whichever browser you use,  a HELP button is never far away!

The next page will look at search engines

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