A browser is the computer program that you use to browse the internet.
Browsers work by reading files that are written in a mark-up language called HTML, which tells the browser how to structure a web page.
Browsers also interpret CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), which turns basic web pages into the colorful, aesthetically-pleasing web pages we all know and love.
Back in the early days, most of us used a browser called Netscape Navigator, which pretty much disappeared by 2002 as other browsers became more popular.
Now there are many browser options available. So many, in fact, that I will not be listing them all here. The focus these days is on the top five.
The (current) top five most popular browsers are (in order of popularity):
Internet Explorer (often called IE)
I used Internet Explorer briefly, and in their earlier days I tried out both Safari and Opera. I’ve never tried Google Chrome. By the time Chrome came along I had been using Firefox for a few years already and was very happy with it.
For general use, you’ll only ever need to use one browser.
Does it matter what browser you use? Not to me it doesn’t!
But, to be honest, on this site you will not be hearing much (if anything) about browsers other than Firefox.
If you don’t already use Firefox, I’ll either convert you or bore you to tears.
If you do use Firefox already, there may very well be be a new tip, add-on or shortcut that you’ll appreciate in the upcoming series of posts.
On that note, I would like to talk about tabbed browsing.
Firefox, as an early adopter of tabbed browsing, was my first experience with tabs, and I was immediately hooked.
Gone were the days of taskbars cluttered with open browser windows.
Gone were the days of clicking through those windows, trying to find the exact one I wanted at each moment.
With tabbed browsing, you can experience the joys of multitasking from a single browser window.
Tabs function like separate windows, so you can load and browse through different websites in each tab; what happens in one tab will not affect another.
Simply click File > New Tab, or hit the Ctrl+T shortcut on your keyboard. Watch as a new tab magically appears.
Tabbed browsing is easy; simply click on each tab to bring it into focus, or press the X on a tab to close it.
Firefox, by default, opens “new window” links in new tabs instead, and will warn you if you try to open more tabs than the system can handle.
I you’re new to tabbed browsing, try it out and tell me what you think. If you’ve tried tabs and aren’t convinced, I would also love to hear your thoughts.
I won’t try to convert you to tabbed browsing. Or to Firefox.
Ok, who am I kidding?
We’ll be exploring Firefox over the course of the next few weeks.
Stay tuned for the Firefox Keyboard Shortcut Cheat Sheet!