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When you use a computer, software makes it easy to write letters, edit photos, and watch a video. The same is true when you connect a computer to the Web. Software makes web pages useful and easy to navigate. This software is called a web browser.
You open a browser with a click, and it connects you to web pages using web addresses or URLs. You simply type an address in the address bar, or click a link on a web page, and your browser uses the address to find the right page.
Computers and mobile devices come with browsers automatically, but you can also download new ones for free, and even have more than one on a computer.
But browsers do a lot more. To explore the options, we’ll use menus like this and keyboard shortcuts, which make things happen by pressing two buttons at the same time.
For example, with billions of web pages and long addresses, it can be hard to keep track of what’s important to you. A browser can help by remembering where you’ve been over the short term using the back button, or over time with the history menu. And you can add a bookmark for any page to get back to it quickly.
And a browser is a little like a vehicle - you can customize it to make it your own. Instead of new wheels and a stereo, you can add browser add-ons or extensions. These can be downloaded from your browser’s website and plugged right into your browser with a click. But your browser does a lot without extensions.
For example, you may need to see three websites at the same time for comparing movie times. Instead of opening three browsers, you can just open new tabs in a single browser window. As long as tabs are turned on, you can add new tabs from the browser or with shortcuts.
And what would you do without search? Thankfully, most browsers come with a search box built-in. Just enter a keyword here and your browser will take you directly to the results.
Browsers also make remembering passwords easy. When you enter a password, your browser can remember it for the next visit. But be careful, using this feature on shared computers is like giving strangers your car keys.
Oh, and here’s a great shortcut. If you’re looking at a long page of travel info and only care about Hawaii, your browser can search the page. Just “find” it using the “edit” menu or the keyboard shortcut and those words will be highlighted on the page.
And finally, browsers need to be updated regularly. Be sure to install updates when asked. This will keep your browsing safe and sound.
A web browser is your window to the online world and knowing what’s possible can make it work for you.
What it teaches
Web browsers are among the most frequently used software on any personal computer or device, yet they are often misunderstood. This video covers the basics of web browsers and explores features and tools that may be new to many users. It teaches:
- The concept of the browser as software that makes web pages easy to use
- The basic navigation features such as back and history
- The use of keyboard shortcuts and menus for accessing features
- How browser extensions and add new features
- The use of tabs, search and “find” options