How to browse the web

Surf the web

Once you’ve set up an internet connection on your computer, you can enjoy having the world at your fingertips through the web, email and other internet services.

To see the information on the internet, you need a software program called a web browser, which lets you view and navigate between web pages. A web browser is more than just a window to the web. It can store your favourite web pages, filter content and help protect you from common internet scams.

Web sites and web pages
When you launch your web browser, the first thing you’ll see is a web page in the web browser window. This is your web browser home page and each time you open the browser, you’ll start on this page. Which particular web page is used as the home page is initially set by the web browser, but it’s easy to change this to another web page if you prefer.

Most web pages contain text and images such photos and icons. Some include video, sound and animations.

How to visit a web page
To view a page on the web, you’ll need to know its address. Each web page has its own unique ‘address’ – also known as its URL (Uniform Resource Locator). This is how your web browser identifies and displays the correct page from the billions of webpages hosted on the web. In most web browsers, a web page’s address is shown at the top of the browser window in the box marked Address.

For example, the address for Computing For Everyone’s website is

The www stands for World Wide Web and most website addresses start with this.

The computingforeveryone is the name of the website.

The .com shows the type of website and sometimes its location.

Web sites
It’s easy to get confused between web sites and web pages especially as the two terms are often used interchangeably. A web site is like the front cover of a book and it will most likely have many web pages within it.

So is the front – or home – page of Computing For Everyone’s web site. Within this web site are web pages full of different information such as which has details on how to contact the website owners.

Like dipping into a book, you don’t need to start at the home page of a web site. If you know the address of a web page, you can type it in the address bar at the top of your web browser window, and press Enter. This web page will be displayed on screen.

There’s no need to type the http:// or www when entering an address of a web page. You can start with name of the web page, followed by the rest of the address.

There is another way to change the web page you see on screen. You can navigate between pages on the web by clicking on a link. This is called browsing or surfing the web.

Links can be found on a web page itself. A link can be text, a button or an image. It will be highlighted in some way – typically links are coloured blue and underlined. Another way to spot a link is to move your mouse cursor around the screen. When the mouse cursor is over a link, the cursor will change from an arrow to a hand with a pointing finger. Clicking on a link will take you to a new webpage. This could be to another web page in the same website or to a different website entirely.

You can bookmark your favourite webpages to make it easier to visit them regularly. Rather than typing the webpage’s address each time you visit, you simply click on the name of a favourite website to open it. Bookmarked pages will be listed under Favorites or Bookmarks depending on the web browser you use.

Your web browser stores a history of all the webpages you visit. This is useful if you want to revisit a site you looked at earlier but you can’t remember the web address. However, storing this information can take up hard disk space, so you can delete it to save space or to protect your privacy. Most browsers offer a privacy mode or private browsing which means the browser doesn’t keep a record of the websites you visit.

Back and forward buttons
As you move between web pages, your web browser keeps track of the pages you’ve viewed. So, if you want to return to the last page you looked at, click the Back button. Continuing to click it more than once will go back a number of pages equal to the number of times you click it. Once you’ve clicked the Back button, you can also use the Forward button to return in the same manner.

Tabbed browsing
Tabs allow you to open multiple web pages at the same time within the same browser window. This helps you navigate web pages as you can open a link in a fresh tab, while keeping the old web page open as a reference.

Most web pages are longer than the web browser window itself. If the web page appears to continue below the browser window, use the side scrollbars or arrows to move further down the page.

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