Browsers: Safari, Firefox and the Rest
To surf the World Wide Web we use a ‘browser’ to ‘browse’ the pages — a bit of Library jargon surely! All Macs come with a pre-installed copy of Safari, Apple’s browser but there are plenty of other contenders. Occasionally a particular website won’t load properly in Safari and then I try Chrome and it works!
The most popular is Google’s Chrome but you can also download Firefox and a heap more. Click the icons to go to their download sites. For more help go to Downloading and Installing Files.
When you enter a web address in the address bar of any browser and hit the Enter or Return key on your keyboard the browser looks for the address out there online, finds it, requests the page file and related image or video files you have asked for, downloads them and then renders and displays the elements of the page. All in a few milliseconds!
Each page is a file and each is part of your download quota that you have agreed with your ISP (Internet Service Provider). If you click to watch a movie that is just another file to the browser, down it comes and is displayed as the page creator decreed in their page coding.
The window of the browser can contain one website or several, in Tabs. The key to happy browsing is to use Tabs so that you don’t have to leave a page when you want to look at a different website. Say for example you are looking at the Sydney Morning Herald front page. Maybe clicking away at different links and reading them. Then you remember that there was an important football match (or election result or Apple product announcement — whatever!) that you want to find out about but you don’t want to lose the article you are reading.
You simply open a new tab from the File menu at the top of the browser which opens blank waiting for an address, type in the address and off you go to the news. The Sydney Morning Herald page is still there — look at the top of the page and you will see two tabs in the Tab Bar (under the Address bar) which probably only appeared when you opened the new tab. Open several and go to different addresses. Click between them and when you are done click the Close X to close the tab. It’s like windows within windows.
Now when you have got used to working with Tabs here’s a great tip: if you always start online by going to the same five or six sites every time you open your browser you can save then all as your Home Page! The Home Page is the first page that your browser goes when it first opens and it can be set to whatever page you want, even blank. Many people use Google, but to change it go to the site you want as your Home page, then go to the browser Preferences which are always under the main menu with the name of the application. (This is true whether it’s an online app or not — every application has Preferences under it’s main menu and this is how you change different aspects of how it looks or behaves).
Open the Preferences and you will get this window, if you aren’t using Firefox don’t worry, all the browsers have very similar windows:
You can see the Home page address and a button saying Use Current Page/s which you click to make your choice of website your Home Page. Or as you can see with mine all the tabs I had selected became my Home page! This means that when I open Firefox it opens with seven tabs all showing different web pages. Cool it is, saves a heap of time loading the same pages that I visit daily.
And remember you change this as often as you like.