Page last updated at 11:07 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009

Click Essentials: Web browsers

When you surf the web, you'll probably get so much pleasure from actually looking at web pages, that you won't pay much attention to the program you're using to access them - your web browser.

There are several makes available, and they are all much more than just an address bar and a back button.

If you'd like to get more from your browser, read on for this Click Essential Guide.

The five browsers we're looking at are; Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Chrome. Pretty much everyone uses one of these beasts.


Some of the features we are looking at are only available in the latest versions, so try to download those in order to get maximum 'browsifaction'.


Now if you're serious about browsing lots of pages at once, the first thing you need to get a handle on is tabs.

If you want to keep your eye on several different websites, you may be tempted to open several instances of your browser - instead, you can open a new tab in the same browser - keeping your taskbar nice and free from clutter.

RSS feeds

If you need to stay bang up to date with the latest news, you'll find many websites now provide live-feeds - called RSS feeds - of their headlines.

RSS feed icon
The RSS feed logo
You can use your browser to keep an eye on these without having to go back to the site in question.

The sites that provide RSS feeds should have an orange symbol somewhere about the place - clicking "subscribe" should automatically add the feed to your browser's list.

And once you've got loads of pages open, you can keep tabs on your tabs by tiling them at the touch of a key. Hit CTRL Q on Internet Explorer 7.

Opera allows you to speed-dial up to nine of your favourite websites when you open a new tab, while Chrome will give you a one-click choice of sites you've visited most often.


Another useful feature is zoom. Zooming in is great if you're finding a web page difficult to read, and zooming out is especially useful if you're using a mobile or small device.

You can get an idea of the whole layout, before finding and reading the part you want. Opera is particularly good at reorganising the text after zooming to make the layout more friendly to your screen size.

Some browsers pride themselves on their flexibility and customisability - Firefox fans are especially lucky here. There are thousands of plug-ins and extensions that change the look and feel, and allow the browser to do extra things.

Each browser does their thing in a slightly different way, and each has its own devoted fans - what you do with yours is up to you.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

banner watch listen bbc sport Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific