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.

Websites are located by their URL which is discussed further below.

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

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 which tells your browser where on the internet to find the computer with the information you want.
The address for a website is normally referred to as a URL or 'Universal Resource Locator''.

The URL for this web page that you are viewing is http://seniortech.wikidot.com/web-browsing
(the http:// may be dropped on some browsers when the page is opened)

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




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 use of https shows that the website is secure so that personal information including financial information is safe.

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.

Tabs on Browsers

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 on a computer which you may have seen before.

The tabs you can see on a computer may be hidden when using a mobile phone because of the much smaller small screen size.
A tablet usually can display like a computer.


Tabbed Browsers on a Phone

The image below shows a Chrome browser on an Android phone.
On the gray bar at the top, you can see the Home button, the URL and a button with a number.
The numbered button indicates the number of tabs that are open, in this case there are 4.


Also shown for the tab that is on display is the search topic that created the list of information below.

The image below shows the screen display when the button for the number of tabs (4) is tapped.
In this image, numbers have been added to the display (ie 1 to 4) so you can see the top of each open tab.


This image also shows where you can tap to create a new blank tab without disturbing those you are using.
Each tab also has a close button (highlighted here with a red square)
You can close any tab that you don't need without affecting the others by tapping the X in the right hand corner of the tab.
It is possible too, using a finger to scroll vertically, to move up and down between the tabs to see more of what they contain.

If you want to look at a particular tab, just tap it anywhere (except the X in the right hand corner!)

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, so can use the search function.


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.
On a computer you may have used:

  • 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.

Web Page Management on a Computer or Tablet

The computer or tablet tabs are shown here:


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. A tablet will usually display like a computer.

Web Page Management on a Phone

Again because of the small screen on a phone, the controls are arranged differently.
This image is of part of an Android phone screen with the Chrome browser open.
The red arrow shows the place to tap to get the menu for the page.


When the menu opens, there are many options but there will be

  • a forward arrow to the next page if you have gone to another page and come back. (it will be gray otherwise)
  • a refresh option to reload the page if required, the circular arrow
  • a star that means Bookmark or save this page so I don't have to remember it in the future
  • a Bookmarks option that will list all the pages you have saved
  • an option to display the website as shown on a computer rather than a mobile device*

On an Android phone the back arrow is on the body of the device to the right of the home screen


*Because of the size and shape of mobile devices, websites usually have a different page size, shape and behaviour sent to your device to give the best viewing performance on the screen that you have.

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
  • History - websites you have viewed
  • Settings - how to change the browser functions
  • '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
  • Cookies - as you use the browser a small data file called a cookie is created. This 'first party' cookie is stored on your computer so as next time you come back to the same website it can identify you and determine if you have an account and are logged in or out of that site. The cookie is coded so only the website that made the cookie can use it. This makes the 'first party' cookie reasonably secure. For more information click here.
  • Tracking - Your use of websites is also monitored by 'tracking cookies' or 'third party cookies' to better understand your consumer preferences and interaction with advertising. If you want more details about tracking and privacy click here.

To go to the next basic skill click here

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