How do I decide which browser to use?
You may not have much choice on a phone or tablet but on a real computer you do and they all seem desperate for you
to use theirs. Firefox was my favourite for a while but now it's Chrome. It works pretty well and crucially synchronises
all our bookmarks across two computers, two tablets and two phones. Safari is no longer being updated for Windows but I
do use Opera whenever I want to browse via a VPN, ie to see what happens if it seems I'm located in another country.
Strangely Microsoft Edge just doesn't seem to work effectively on my Win 10 PC.
In early 2018 netmarketshare.com reckoned that on desktops and laptops (where you have a real choice) Chrome was way up
top with a 59% market share, trailed by Firefox and IE on 13% each, Edge and Safari 3% each, Opera 2%, the rest nowhere.
I like the way Chrome and Firefox make it so easy to build up your own menus of favourite sites. Here's Chrome's top strip,
with plenty of tabs open and an extensive DIY bookmarks menu strip.
How can I improve my search results?
Use double quotes. Copper wire bars in Google gets
well over ten million hits (anything containing all 3 words). "Copper wire
bars" in quotes gets under 14,000 - only pages with that
exact phrase. Put -ingots after it (a word with a leading minus
sign) and it drops under 10,000. If you are not sure about
spelling etc use OR, eg "color palette" OR "colour palette" gets many
more hits than either phrase alone.
In Google search, remember that sponsored links
are there because they paid to be, not because they matched your search
well. Eg search for a long discontinued camera and you'll get
sponsored links, none of which are actually offering that model
for sale. You should generally assume that sponsored links are
only for outfits trying to sell you something. Search for free
software and you'll get sponsored links from all sorts of odd sources
and one site offers free software such as Firefox via a mandatory
payment stage! The image on the right shows an entire page of paid
ad content from a Google search for best accounting software. There is
not a single genuine search result in view. Should that be allowed?
I always try to skip past the ads but they are making it increasingly difficult.
Use the best option for each search you make, eg in Google the
news or images options are useful and map based searches are becoming
excellent. I use viamichelin
to plan road trips round Europe, streetmap
for local UK maps,
find tyre sellers nearby and so on. On Google maps in many areas you
can click your way into street view, allowing you to travel
along a street as if you were there - the pic shows a bit of central London.
How do I keep my Google list when searching?
The key is when you want to investigate a link in your Google search
results list do not click on it. Instead
click on it (long press on a tablet or phone) and
choose Open in New Tab. That way it comes up in another tab in
the same browser window. When you close that tab, your
Google list is still there, just as you left it. Ctrl left click
does the same thing but quicker. In all the modern browsers clicking a link with the middle
scroll wheel button opens it in a new tab too. You can also close a tab by clicking
on it with the scroll wheel button.
How do I grab an image from a web page?
Make sure it's not copyright restricted, especially if your use is at
all commercial. Then tap the PrtScn (Print Screen) key to load what's
showing on the screen into memory (or Alt PrtScn for just the current
part screen window). Then run an application to receive the
image. A word processor will just about do, as you can crop and
resize the imported image. But a proper image processing application is
best. Eg in Photoshop Elements you choose File, New from
Clipboard, then crop to what you want, add text, resize or whatever and
save as a jpg, gif or png which can then be used in all sorts of ways.
Right clicking on an image then Save Image As is often an alternative.
There are also some excellent screen grabbers you have to pay a bit
for, eg the superb Faststone Capture (free back when I found it).
And the Win 10 Snipping tool is quite good.
How do I change my home page?
Browser settings pages will let you switch to a different startup site easily
but I much prefer the option to start up with the tabs open when you last closed it.
How do I put a web address in an email or document?
Go to the site/page you want then click on the web page address to
highlight it. Then Edit Copy (or Ctrl C) to load it into memory. Go to
the email or document (or wherever you want to use the link) and
Edit Paste (Ctrl V) to insert it. Tap the space bar whilst at the end
of the link and it will turn blue/underlined in many applications and
take anyone to the web page with a click of the mouse. On a tablet you
long press for copy and paste.
What are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for?
Search me. Facebook seems to be a way for young people to tell the world in far too much detail what
they're doing in an endless quest to get more 'friends'. And it seems to have a very cavalier attitude
towards privacy. In late 2017 the journalist Jonathan Taplin said that the average Facebook user "works
for two hours a day for Mark Zuckerberg", for free.
Instagram could be fun for ten minutes but I can't be bothered to sign up for a photo
site that for years said all images must be square - that didn't fit reality. Twitter seems very
one-sided: you need to be Stephen Fry or Joan Rivers to get anyone to pay any attention to your tweets.
How can I increase the viewing area in the browser?
Most browsers respond to F11 to switch between normal view (where they
occupy a lot of your screen space) and full screen view (where the
website gets the full screen area). This is particularly important with
modern wide but shallow screens. Great for watching movies but not ideal
for many other things. If you want a screenshot and the content doesn't
quite fit Ctrl - (minus) will shrink the content on a PC/laptop.
On tablets and phones browsers tend to hide the top area
when it's not in use.