Web Browsing

What is a web browser?

Every internet page is expressed in computer code which really looks like a bunch of odd looking words and symbols.
Those words and symbols are converted or 'rendered' by a web browser to assemble the web page on your device.

A web browser also can search the internet for the things that interest you. The search is done by a 'search engine', a built in app that can quickly list the websites that might have the information that you want. You can then choose what to look at. Probably the most well known and popular search engine is Google.

At present the most popular web browsers are Google Chrome and Apple Safari but other browsers can be used.

Most browsers, including Chrome and Safari, are 'tabbed' browsers which allow you to have multiple web pages open at the same time.
The tabs allow you to switch between the different web sites of interest.
In the image below the small red arrows show the tabs of the browser. This is on a computer. A tablet or iPad will be very similar.
Because of the small screen size, the tabs may be hidden when using a mobile phone.

Tab1.jpg

Web Site Address

If you need to go to a new friend's house they give you their home address which you can look up on a map or GPS which will help you find your way there.
Similarly a web site has an address normally referred to as a URL or 'Universal Resource Locator''. In the image above the URL is shown for this web page.

While your computer sees a URL as a set of numbers, humans see it as a more informative set of words. A URL may look like

http://www.websitename.com

OR

https://www.websitename.com

The first few letters tell the web browser that it is to use 'http' - 'hyper text transfer protocol' to render the page. (this is about the computer code used by the browser)
The www means 'World Wide Web'. It is becoming less necessary but was originally used to direct a browser to the correct place in a website for a visitor.

Every website will have some sort of name as in this example 'websitename'. This is followed by the 'domain suffix', in this example .com.
This suffix helps to show what sort of site is being accessed. A .com is usually commercial, .com.au is commercial in Australia.

There are many suffixes used and you can view a list by clicking here.

Use a Browser

An internet browser is your window into the internet.
If you know the URL (the location of the website) you can type this in to the browser and it will load the website for you.
You may be wanting to find some information but do not know the website that might help.

Search

A browser has a search function (or 'search engine') that allows you to type in what you want to know and then it will try to find it for you.
Google is probably the best known search engine.

To make a search, type in the search box in the browser something about what you want to know.
For example:

Sydney TV - will get you a list of TV guides
who is the prime minister of Australia - will list the current prime minister (notice that it does not need capitalisation or a ?)
what to see in London - will get you a list of the sights of this city in UK (you will have to be more specific if you want London, Ontario)

If you make successive searches there are features on the web browser that help you move from page to page.

  • Horizontal arrows will let you move back to where you have been.
  • If you move back and want to go ahead then there will be a forward arrow.
  • The arrow that is circular shaped is called 'refresh'. This gives a chance to get the information for the page all over again.
Tab2.jpg

Why would you want to 'refresh'? A good example is a weather map which may change during the day.
Tapping refresh will update to the latest information available.

Other features

These are important features that we will be learning about and practicing in our class group.

  • Bookmarks - you can set bookmarks which means the page is remembered so you can get there again
  • 'Clear the cache' - the 'cache' is where a list of all the pages you have visited is kept. It is sometimes necessary to empty this to make the browser work properly
  • Tracking - as you use the browser a small set of information (data file) called a cookie is created. This is stored on your computer so as next time you come back to the same website it can be adjusted to suit any personal preferences you have shown. Your use of the site is also monitored (by 'tracking software') to better understand your consumer preferences. If you want more details about tracking and privacy click here.

To go to the next basic skill click here

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