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Browsers and Navigation

Your transports around the World Wide Web

A browser is an application you use to view files on the World Wide Web. There are text or terminal-based browsers (such as Lynx) that allow you to view only the text of a file on the Web. Most browsers now are graphical browsers that can be used to view text, graphics, and other multimedia information.

There are many types of Web browsers available, but the most widely used are MS Internet Explorer and Netscape. Both claim to be better and faster than the other, but the choice of which one to use usually becomes a personal one. Because some Web pages are created for specific browsers, it can be important which browser you use. Web pages may look different when accessed by different browsers.


Microsoft Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer holds the lion's share of the browser usage today, but it came into the game later than its main competitor.

Microsoft has met with a good deal of criticism in recent years concerning Internet Explorer because of its alleged intent to make IE an integral and necessary element of the Windows operating system. Competitors complained that Microsoft tries to lock them out of the market by making IE the only Web browser effectively usable by the Windows system.

Netscape was one of the first commercial browsers on the scene and dominated the browser market until Microsoft got serious about Internet Explorer. There are some Internet users who are fiercely loyal to Netscape and there are sites on the Web that are best viewed using Netscape.

In either of these browsers, if you want to save a Web site that you find useful and want to return to, try using the Favorites (MS Internet Explorer) or Bookmarks (Netscape) function found on the menu bars at the top of the browser screen.

check it out logo

The following are external links and will open in pop-up windows:

Internet Explorer Home Page
Firefox Home Page
Web Browsers at


Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
The Uniform Resource Locator or URL is the "address" of a computer connected to the Internet. While surfing the Web, you'll notice that there is an address or location box at the top of your browser. It's here that you'll see an individual site's address displayed. This address allows you to find the site again, should you forget to bookmark it. You can simply type the URL into the address box, press the Enter key on your computer keyboard and you'll be taken back to the site of the address.

The general format of a Web address is as follows:

The http in the address stands for "hypertext transfer protocol", the protocol for the World Wide Web, and it tells your browser to look for a site on the Web. A URL could also appear as:




The first part of the URL before the colon tells the browser what type of protocol to use. The colon and two forward slashes are standard to all URLs. Commonly, the letters WWW (World Wide Web) appear after the two forward slashes in many Web addresses, but other letters are also used.

After the first dot, or period, in the URL, is the name of the particular computer followed by another dot and what is known as the domain (.com, .edu, .gov, etc.). The domain indicates the type of group or organization using the address. For instance, all educational institutions have a URL that ends with the domain of .edu.

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