Web Browsers Are Your Gateway to the Internet
Most of us now have computers, tablets and smartphones that let us surf the Web. We have gotten used to clicking or pressing an icon to get to the Internet.
Yet, we have not all learned the jargon related to using the Internet. Often, when I ask people which Internet browser they are using, they respond "Google."
So for instant clarification, Google is not a Web browser. It is a search engine. This is a confusing concept for many. When you go to the store, you may be browsing through the aisles while searching for a certain item. You can't be searching for a certain item unless you are already in the store browsing through the displays. The same is true for the Internet.
Just as you use your car to get to the mall, you use a Web browser to get on the Internet. Once you are on the Internet, you can use a search engine such as Google, Yahoo! or Bing to search for what you want. You cannot use Google, Bing or any other search engine unless you use a Web browser to get on the Internet first. So the Web browser is your gateway to the Internet.
There are many different Web browsers. If you use a Windows computer, phone or tablet, the default Web browser is Internet Explorer. You may know it as the blue "E" that you use to get on the Internet. If you are using a Mac, iPad or iPhone, the default Web browser is Safari. The icon that starts it looks like a compass. Other popular Web browsers include Opera, Firefox and Chrome.
Luckily for us, all of these browsers are free. All work in a similar manner. Each has tabbed browsing, bookmarks, auto fill, zoom, pop-up blockers and automatic updates. Yet each one is just a little bit different.
The toolbars and menus look different. Things are in different places. For instance, each browser handles downloaded files a little differently, and may give you different download options and put the downloaded files in different folders.
Sometimes, even main features vary. For instance, Safari, Internet Explorer and Firefox have parental controls. Chrome and Opera do not. Both Opera and Safari have Mouse Gestures, which allow you to move your mouse in simple ways to give the browser commands without using the more cumbersome menu choices. Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox do not have Mouse Gestures.
Some Web browsers have special features. For instance, Opera has voice interaction, so if you have a microphone and speakers you can verbally communicate with the browser and have it read the text to you.
All of these browsers work with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. All, except Internet Explorer, which is Windows only, also work with the Mac OS.
Depending on which tablet and/or smartphone you own, you can often also install these Web browsers or mobile versions of them on your portable devices. Your tablet may also have a special Web browser for use only on that tablet. One example of this the Web browser is called "Silk," which is built into the Amazon Fire tablets.
If you are working on a PC or Mac, it is a good idea to install a second Web browser. This gives you an alternative way to get on the Internet if, for some reason, the browser you usually use is not working properly. Not only can you install two or three different Web browsers, but you can also use them all at the same time, if you wish. This makes it easy to try an alternative browser. You can run them side by side to decide which one you like better.
If you are currently using Internet Explorer or Safari and want to try another browser, check out Opera or Chrome. As mentioned earlier, Opera will read to you. Chrome cannot do that, but it is known as one of the fastest Web browsers.
If you look at both of these browsers, you will see a stark contrast. Opera has all of the controls and menus visible while Chrome has a much cleaner look, with fewer obvious controls. It is up to you to determine which type of interface you prefer.
So remember that the Web browser is the program or app that gets you on the Internet and that there are several different browsers you can use. Best of all - they are all free!
Contact Sandy Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More like this story