Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Browser Tips & Tricks

Browsers are awesome.  If you're still using Internet Explorer, stop.  Get something better.  Like Firefox, Opera, Safari, or Chrome.  A rundown:

  • FireFox has the most flexible and extensive add-ons of any of the browsers, including an add on that lets you download YouTube and other embedded videos.  Anything you might want your browser to do?  Most likely there is a FireFox add-on for you.
  • Chrome is pretty sleek.  I use it because it crashes less on my work PC and I just like the interface.
  • Safari is nice, though I find it fairly limited in some respects.  But this is mostly a personal preference thing.
  • Opera is a fairly young browser that not too many people use, but it's also fun.  Has all the major points (tabs, opening a brand new window) and is kind of like the cool thing to do.  It would be the hipster browser.

Here are a few things you might not know your browser can do:

1/ Browser history has gotten a lot of people in trouble, for various reasons.  And sometimes, we just don't want people to know where we've been--like when I bought my imaginary significant other's birthday present and didn't want to leave tracks.  But it looks a little suspicious if you always have a clean browser history, which is why most new browsers come with the option to temporarily turn off the history.
Chrome has an "Incognito WIndow" (open under File --> New Incognito Window).  
Safari turn on "Private Browsing" (Safari --> Private Browsing).
Firefox has "Private Browsing" (Tools --> Start Private Browsing). 
These functions are magnificent.  USE THEM.  And at the very least set your browser history to delete itself ever 2-3 days.  At the very least.

2/ For those that read a lot of websites with long articles or text, Safari has a great option called "Reader."  It's under "View" and it gets rid of distracting font color, images, colors, etc and basically turns the website into an E-Book.  IT.  IS.  WONDERFUL.  (As far as I know, Safari is the only browser that does this.)

3/ Opera, Safari, and Chrome all have "most visited" start/new tab pages that will list your top 6-12 visited sites for easy access.  You can "pin" any site you want (i.e. even if you only visit it a couple of times, you can still get it to stay there), which is convenient.

4/ For those heavily into on-line life (like me), keeping track of things can get difficult.  Which is why I actually have three different browsers on my computer.  One is basically for social media--twitter, facebook, linked in, etc, one is for the various blogs/new sites/media outlets I follow (Safari because of that 'reader function'), and one is for random other stuff.  Or for if I get really, really angry at Chrome or Safari because they're both crashing for no reason what-so-ever.

So there's your mini tutorial/crash course in online browsing.  Questions?