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 Safari is no longer being updated for Windows but I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 didn't seem to work effectively on my last Win 10 PC. It works on the new one, but too late
to even consider. But I've started using Vivaldi because it will run a mobile version of Instagram on a PC browser screen
and Instagram is very stubborn about not uploading from PCs.
In October 2019 netmarketshare.com reckoned that on desktops and laptops (where you have a real choice) Chrome was way up
top with a near monopolistic 67% market share, trailed by Firefox, 9%, IE 8%, Edge 5%, Safari 4% and Opera 2%. In a way
that's a terrible situation, eg some e-commerce websites don't seem to work properly on Chrome and it's a real bully with
sites it deems 'insecure' even if they have no data input fields at all. On mobiles Chrome has 64% and 55% on tablets.
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
nearly forty million hits (anything containing all 3 words). "Copper wire
bars" in quotes gets 125,000 - only pages with that
exact phrase but still a lot. Put -ingots after it (a word with a leading minus
sign) and it drops to 36,000. 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
at all 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.
I also use the Google maps offline option to download maps I can then use
for navigation with no data connection, just GPS.
Another good tip for more selective results in a Google search is click
on Tools then Any time then choose Past week or whatever.
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. 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. I use the Win 10 Snip & Sketch tool, which is pretty
good. Next I copy it into memory or save it to disc.
How do I change my home page?
Browser settings pages will let you switch to a different startup website easily
but I much prefer the option to start up with the tabs that were 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. On a phone you might get lucky.
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. The journalist Jonathan Taplin said that the average Facebook user "works
for two hours a day for Mark Zuckerberg", for free. Micro-targeted ads should be illegal worldwide and knowingly
accepting money for lying political ads must be sailing a bit close to electoral fraud?
I think I've sent two tweets in the past 7 years and just can't be bothered with it.
Instagram could be fun for ten minutes but I only finally signed up in late 2019 and then only because it
had such an aggressive 'sign in or piss off' attitude. So I uploaded 10 or so photos, not all square and
dicovered some of the disadvantages. There's no way of re-ordering your posts (!!!), it punishes you for
photos that are not square (which suits a minority of images) and the max photo sizes are very lo-res indeed.
I came to the conclusion it's not about the images at all but more for bloggy/influencer people who really
care about monetising followers. Doubt I'll both with it much. I'll stick with flickr where I've had more
than 2,000,000 photo views.
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.