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Common Browser Features

All browsers come with a different set of exclusive features that make them each uniquely different. But, there are some features they have in common and that’s what I will be talking about today.

If you recall, a browser is an app installed on all your devices that allows you to surf the web. It’s the app you go to when you want to go to www.appleguideweb.com, www.apple.com, or www.amazon.com. Last week we went more in-depth on what a browser is and how it works. This week will be about common features that all bowsers share.

Topics

Address Bar

At the very top of the window, is the address bar which holds the Uniform Resource Locator or URL for short and commonly referred to as the web address. The URL is essentially the file path to the page you are currently looking at. Now let’s dive a little deeper and analyze the URL for this blog post.

https://www.AppleGuideWeb.com/blog/common-browser-features/‎
  • https:// refers to one of the many internet protocols called hypertext transfer protocol secure, shortened to https. This tells your browser that you are visiting a website
  • www.AppleGuideWeb.com is the server that you are trying to access. Think of the server as a computer that is openly available on the internet. Now your computer, through your browser, will scour the internet for that computer.
  • Everything after appleguideweb.com/ is the file path to the site you are visiting. Think about how to save a Microsoft Word document to your desktop. You open the save window and navigate to the desktop. How you navigate to the desktop is the file path.

So why might the URL be important? This link is the direct path to what you are looking at. So, in the case that you want to share the website you’re on you can send them the URL which will get them to the same page you are on.

Searching the web is one of the top things to do in a browser. Google gets 5.6 BILLION searches a day. In most modern browsers you can type your searches into the address bar but you may still find a dedicated search bar.

For most browsers, you will find Google as your default search engine but somewhere in the browsers settings, you should be able to change your default to another service such as DuckDuckGo, Bing, or Yahoo.

Windows & Tabs

If you find yourself multitasking or wanting to keep pages open for later you can use windows and tabs to organize the pages you have open. With a browser window, you can move it around the screen or minimize it to save it for later. Tabs are helpful for opening multiple pages in one window. With most browsers, you can drag the tab off the window which will create a new window with that tab being the only page. You can also drag tabs between multiple windows.

Homepage and Home Button

Your homepage is the website you are taken to when you open a new window or tab. This page is set by default by the browser but can be changed in your browser’s settings.

Bookmarks

Bookmarks are a helpful way of storing sites that you access often. Typically bookmarks are represented by a star. When you create a bookmark you can add them to your Favorites bar (bookmark bar) or the bookmark menu. The bookmark bar can be found under the address bar and the bookmark menu is hidden somewhere in the browser’s menus.

Downloads

When navigating the web you will at some time find your self installing something such as a Word document, PDF, or an application. Somewhere in your browser is a download manager. Sometimes it’s stationary somewhere next to the address bar and with others, it appears only when you are actually downloading something. The default location for downloaded files is on your computer’s local Downloads folder which can be changed in your browser’s settings.

Privacy Settings

Each browser has some sort of privacy settings. Since each browser handles these settings differently, I’m only going to cover the features that span all of the top browsers starting with sharing access to your computer’s devices such as internal cameras and microphones. Before a website can see your computer’s internal camera and/or microphone you have to give the site permission via a popup request.

History

You can popcorn through multiple sites over the course of the day and at some point may need to refer back to your browsing history to refer to a site that you previously visited.

Each browser keeps track of your browsing history creating a timeline of all the sites that you have visited in the past. This data can be helpful for you to retrieve a site from your past and for your browser to recommend sites that it sees you visit often.

Cookies

Websites use cookies to remember who you are. Between your browser and the website an ID code is created which is then used so the website knows when you are on their site.

Take Amazon, for example, a company that heavily relies on cookies. When you go to Amazon’s website and sign in with your Amazon account and click the “Remember Me” toggle next time you go to Amazon it looks at your Cookie-ID and sees that you were previously signed so it will then sign you back into your account. Amazon uses the same technology to keep track of your shopping cart and products that you looked at recently in order to make recommendations.

Private Browsing

Each browser has a different name for this like private window or incognito browser but all essentially do the same thing. A private browsing window will save your browsing data, like your history and cookies, until you close the window. At that point, your history and cookies collected in the private browsing window will be deleted.

It’s important to note that a private browsers do not stop website from following you and collecting your information.

Browsers have a lot of components that go into giving you a feature-packed and user-friendly web surfing experience. Knowing that these features are available to you may come in handy when you need to find a site that you look at a week ago, want to save a page that you go to often by making a bookmark, or managing tabs and windows when multitasking.

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