Getting the Most Out of Your Internet Browser

by Gerhard Ruf,

© copyright 1996 - 2005
updated 1 December 2005

        This class will first discuss the vulnerabilities of internet browsers and how to protect yourself from viruses and malware. It will provide an introduction to the most popular internet browsers, describing some of the advantages of each. We will then focus on using the most widely used browser, Internet Explorer, more effectively.
  1. Web browsers and email programs are the greatest source of problems for computers. You MUST protect yourself form viruses, adware, spyware, and other malicious programs.
    1. Protection from viruses
          Norton AntiVirus (by Symantec)
          McAfee VirusScan
          AVG (free version available from
          Don't forget to manually scan all drives for viruses periodically.
          a few companies offer free online visus scans
              from TrendMicro
              Use free scans from others even though you are continually protected.
    2. Protection from Malware
          AdAware SE (available for free)
              download from
          Spybot Search & Destroy (available for free)
              download from
          Microsoft, McAfee, Norton and other commercial products
          firewalls can also make a difference
              Windows XP SP2 has a built in firewall
                  set firewall controls at (Start/Control Panel/Windows Firewall) or
                  (Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Control Panel/Windows Firewall)
              Zone Alarm, Commercial product
              only use one
    3. Make sure you download and install the latest Windows Operating System security patches from Microsoft.
          check your automatic download settings from within Internet Explorer at
              Tools/Windows Update/
    4. The BEST protection is to frequently backup what is important.

  2. A variety of Internet Browsers is available. All of them are free.
    1. Internet Explorer (from Microsoft) most widely used
    2. Firefox (Mozilla based) PC Magazine estimates 20% usage - others 5%.
    3. Netscape (Mozilla based) bought by AOL in 1999)
    4. Opera (no longer has banner ads as of Sep 2005)
    5. Safari (Macintosh only)

  3. Current Browser Versions and some of their features
    1. Internet Explorer Version 6.0.2800
      • runs on PC and an earlier version for the MAC
      • limited extension and theme support
      • Version 7 will be coming soon.
            will support tabbed browsing, RSS reader
            to be part of the new Windows Vista OS
            also expect to be available for Windows XP
    2. Firefox Version 1.5
      • available formultiple platforms, including Windows CE devices
      • download from 5.0 MB
      • favorites/bookmark management is simplified (delete multiple items at once.)
      • supports tabbed browsing, download manager
      • broad extension and theme support
    3. Netscape Version 8
      • availabe only for Windows (an older version is available for the MAC.)
      • download from 13.9 MB
      • can be set to emulate Firefox or Internet Explorer
      • supports tabbed browsing, download manager
      • limited extension and theme support
    4. Opera Version
      • availabe for multiple platforms, including WAP-enabled cell phones
      • download from 3.7 MB
      • get more details at
      • supports tabbed browsing, RSS feeds
      • can report itself as IE, Mozilla 5.0 or Opera to web sites
    5. Browser Shells

  4. Enhancement toolbars for Internet Explorer
    1. The typical toolbar includes a popup blocker and other unique features.
    2. Google Toolbar (for IE and Firefox)
          download from
    3. MSN Search Toolbar
          download from
    4. Yahoo! Toolbar
          download from
    5. AltaVista Toolbar
          download from

  5. Google Deskbar - another searching enhacement
  6. Internet Explorer Specific Feaures (similar features exist on all browsers)
    1. Finding words on the browser page
      • Find in page (CTRL-F) (also works on most PC programs)
      • Using Google Toolbar (IE and Firefox)
    2. Using your browser's history
      • Address pull-down for recent typed in addresses
      • View/Explorer Bar/History, or icon, or CTRL-H
            Window appears on left - can change size by moving divider bar.
            Includes all sites visited, whether typed or clicked while browsing.
            View by date, by site, by most visited, by order visited today.
            Search feature searches any sequence of characters in title or link.
            Stores links for a designated period.
            Change history period or clear the history at Tools/Internet Options/General tab.
    3. Favorites or Bookmarks
      • creating - give a new bookmark a location and a meaningful title
      • managing your favorites - moving, renaming, deleting, grouping in folders
      • Exporting and Importing
      • setting up your Link toolbar (personal toolbar)
            Make sure the toolbar feature is unlocked (right-click on any toolbar's blank area)
            Dragging current URLs into the toolbar or favorites
            Creating folders in your peronal toolbar
    4. Keyboard Shortcuts that I find the most useful
      • F5 and CTRL-F5 - reload or refresh current browser page
      • F11 - toggle between full screen and regular view of browser window
      • CTRL-A - select all items on the current web page
      • CTRL-C - copy the selected contents to the clipboard
      • CTRL-D - add the current page to favorites
      • CTRL-F - find in current page
      • CTRL-H - display the History bar
      • CTRL-N - open a new browser window
      • CTRL-P - print the current page (or active frame)
      • CTRL-V - paste the current contents of the clipboard to the cursor location
      • CTRL-W - close the current window
    5. Other miscellaneous functions
      • right-click in various locations to get a related menu of options
            in taskbar to enable, disable display of previously loaded taskbars
            in taskbar to lock or unlock taskbar changes
            in a frame for options, including displaying the frame in a new window
      • customize the standard buttons bar from View/Toolbars/Customize

        Once you have learned some of the features available in your browser, your research time on the Internet will be spent more effectively.

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This page was last updated 1 Dec 05.