Chapter 8. Email

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7.6 Alternative Browsers

Henry Ford once said he'd be happy to manufacture cars in any color that people wanted ‚ as long as that color was black. You might think that a similar aesthetic holds true for Web browsers: You can use any one you want, as long as it's Internet Explorer.

In fact, Internet Explorer isn't the only browser in existence. Several other great ones are available as well, free for the download. This section tells you how to get them, and once you've gotten them, how to get the most out of them. They all have one feature that Internet Explorer doesn't: tabs . A browser window can hold multiple tabs, and each tab corresponds to a different Web site (Figure 7-15), which is a serious boon for power surfers.

Figure 7-15. Tabbed browsing is a configuration that lets you open multiple Web pages within one browser window ‚ a major screen-space conservation initiative.

When it comes to alternative browsers, Netscape, Mozilla, Firefox, and Opera are among the best known. They're all free, although Opera displays ads (to get a version that doesn't include ads, you have to pay $39).

Mozilla, Netscape, and Firefox, meantime, are cousins. All three browsers are based on the same stable technology, known as Gecko. Here's how to tell them apart.

7.6.1 Mozilla vs. Netscape

Mozilla 1.6 and Netscape 7.1 ‚ the latest versions of each, as of this writing ‚ look similar and act nearly the same. The most obvious difference is that Mozilla installs with different themes. (A theme describes the way a program looks ‚ things like the colors and shape of the buttons , icons, and other interface elements.) But the two browsers are typically used by different types of people.

Mozilla is popular with programmers and other geek types because it comes with a seemingly infinite number of settings you can tweak, and because it always has a test version that's slightly more advanced than Netscape's latest version. Netscape, on the other hand, is owned by AOL. So while it comes with the same basic features Mozilla has, it includes AOL Instant Messenger, a shopping button, and a few other extras that make it appealing to civilians.

But Netscape also has a few notable problems. It harbors windows that crop up regularly, exhorting you to join the Netscape Network, whatever that is. And it installs extra programs, like Rediscover AOL, and desktop icons, even if you don't ask for them. Even more important, AOL is dithering about whether to keep coming out with new versions of Netscape. Possibly, they will let the Netscape browser fade into the sunset, so this is probably not the best time to adopt it. Firefox

If Mozilla is too complicated, and Netscape is too clogged up with AOL clutter, a third option, Firefox, created by the fine folks at Mozilla, might be juuuust right. Unlike Mozilla and Netscape, which come loaded with an email program, a Web page composer, chat tools, and tons of features that only a few people use, Firefox is a standalone browser that incorporates only the most popular tools and settings. Not only does this arrangement make Firefox easier for the average person to use, but it also means the program is speedier and it takes up less room on your hard drive. (If you want email or many other features, Firefox offers dozens of extensions , otherwise known as add-ons, that you can easily install; Section 7.6.6 tells you all about them.

In addition to its lightweight configuration, Firefox has a sleek interface, state-of-the-tech security, pop-up blocking, tabbed browsing, and many other tasty features, including a built-in Google search box (which also lets you search for a term on the page you're currently viewing). For fancier features, you can add the Googlebar (see next hint) ‚ a feature that emulates the Google toolbar ‚ to Firefox. And if you type a search term into the address bar, it automatically runs a Google "I'm Feeling Lucky" search.

Firefox's underlying technology is the same as Mozilla's, so problems tend to show up in things like the occasional misspelled menu item or a cookie setting that includes the observation, "Cookies are delicious delicacies," inserted by an engineer with a raging sense of humor.

Note: Sometime during 2004 or so, the Mozilla honchos plan to come out with version 1.0 of Firefox, which will probably include a couple more features and fewer misspellings. At that point, Firefox will be the organization's primary offering for everyday browsing, while Mozilla will likely remain a favorite of geeks who like its extra components and eight jillion settings.

For a nice set of answers to frequently asked questions about Firefox, see http:// texturizer .net/firefox/faq.html. To download it, head over to, choose your operating system, and let 'er rip. Opera

Some people favor Opera because it takes up less hard disk space than Mozilla or Netscape. Fans also like the wide-open feeling it gives to pages as you surf. To get Opera, go to

7.6.2 A Google Toolbar for Netscape, Mozilla, and Firefox

Section 7.2.1 describes the stunningly great Google toolbar, which lets you search the Web using Google's search engine without visiting There's just one problem: Google created the toolbar for Internet Explorer only.

If you use Netscape, Mozilla, or Firefox, however, you're in luck. You can get the Googlebar, a version of the Google toolbar that mimics the original nicely . You can download the Googlebar for free from

Tip: If the Googlebar doesn't appear after you install it and restart your browser, press Ctrl+F8, which turns the Googlebar on and off. Firefox has no menu item for turning the Googlebar on and off, so this shortcut can be important.

As with the Internet Explorer version, the Googlebar toolbar integrates directly into your browser. Just type your search term into the search box on the Toolbar and press Enter, and you get the same results as if you did the search at Google's Web site.

7.6.3 Speeding Up Netscape with Keyboard Shortcuts

You can browse the Web faster with Netscape by using keyboard shortcuts. Table 7-3 lists keyboard shortcuts for many of Netscape's menu commands, so you can get where you need to go without lifting your fingers from the keyboard.

Table 7-3. Netscape Keyboard Shortcuts

Key Combination

What It Does


Opens the Manage Bookmarks window.


Opens the History window.


Reloads the current Web page.


Opens your Home page.


Selects all the text in the location bar.


Launches a window that lets you type whatever URL you want to visit.


Closes the browser.


Opens a new Navigator window.


Moves to the next link on a Web page, or the next input box in a form on a Web page.

Shift Tab

Moves to the previous link on a Web page, or the previous input box in a form on a Web page.


Makes Netscape take up the entire screen. Press it again to return Netscape to normal size .

Ctrl- (minus sign)

Makes all text on the page smaller.

Ctrl+ (plus sign)

Makes all text on the page larger.


Opens a new Navigator tab.

Ctrl+Page Down

Switches to the next tab.

Ctrl+Page Up

Switches to the previous tab.


Closes the current tab (or the browser window if only one page is open).


Opens/closes My Sidebar, which is a pane on the left of the screen with links to frequently used features, such as instant messaging.

Alt+Page Down

Switches to the next sidebar panel.

Alt+Page Up

Switches to the previous sidebar panel.

7.6.4 Dressing Up Netscape with Themes

Don't like the way Netscape looks? No problem ‚ you can change it. Netscape lets you use different themes, which have unique color schemes, types and sizes of buttons, and so on.

To switch from your current theme in Netscape, choose View Apply Theme and then choose the theme you want to use. Netscape comes with two themes, Modern and Classic, which you can see in Figure 7-16. To have your new theme take effect, close Netscape and restart it.

If Netscape's Modern and Classic themes don't appeal , you can find plenty of themes for free online. To see some other options, choose View Apply Theme Get New Themes; Netscape takes you to its "Theme Park" Web page. You can browse through the themes until you find one that suits your style, then choose Import Theme and follow the directions to import it into your browser.

7.6.5 Filling in the Blanks with Netscape

Netscape's Form Manager is like a personal assistant, keeping track of details such as your name , address, email address, shipping information, billing information, credit card number and more. Then it pops all that data into Web forms for you, so you don't have to retype it over and over.

Figure 7-16. Top: Netscape's Modern theme, shown here, has large, rounded buttons and a metallic feel. Bottom: Netscape's Classic theme has a more staid look, which hasn't changed much since Netscape came out in 1994. Note how the buttons and colors are dramatically different in the two themes, although the screen layout is similar.
Bottom: Netscape's Classic theme has a more staid look, which hasn't changed much since Netscape came out in 1994. Note how the buttons and colors are dramatically different in the two themes, although the screen layout is similar.

To use it, choose Tools Form Manager Edit Form Info . The Form Manager appears, shown in Figure 7-17. Enter whatever information you want the Form Manager to pass along and click OK. Then when you come across a Web page with a form you have to fill out, choose Tools Form Manager Fill In Form, and Netscape does the work for you. If you don't want to submit certain details Netscape can fill in, you can edit the information on the form, picking and choosing what you want to automate.

Figure 7-17. The more information you put into Netscape's Form Manager, the better it will work for you. But think twice about entering your credit card details, because then anyone who uses your PC can use your credit card to buy whatever they want.

Tip: If you're too lazy to enter all your information into the Form Manager, it can harvest that data from a form you've already filled out. Fill out a form on the Web and choose Tools Form Manager Save Form Info. The Form Manager gathers the information from the form you've already completed and saves it for future use, so you don't have to tax yourself with any extra keystrokes.

7.6.6 Adding Firefox Features

Much of Firefox's appeal is that it's a simple, speedy browser. So what if you want something fancy? Firefox has a very cool system for letting you add features ƒ   la carte. These add-ons are called extensions , there are dozens of them, and they run from the hugely helpful (the Googlebar, described on Section 7.6.2, is actually an extension) to the whimsical (the CuteMenus extension adds icons on your menus ).

To add an extension, choose Tools Extensions, and click Get More Extensions. Firefox jumps to a Web site with a list of extensions, organized by category, and by top-rated and most popular ( shows you a the whole list at once). When you find one that intrigues you, click it to open a page that describes the extension and lets you install it (click Install Now). You may have to restart Firefox for the extension to work.

In addition to the Googlebar, here are a few other useful extensions:

  • Ieview lets you right-click a page and then open it in Internet Explorer. This feature is useful when you're visiting a page that doesn't display properly in Firefox (an occasional occurrence).

  • Single Window opens a new page in a tab rather than in a separate Firefox window.

  • Tabbrowser Preferences lets you control more tab behavior.

7.6.7 Mozilla Firefox Shortcuts

Firefox fans, Table 7-4 lists the keyboard shortcuts that'll prevent you from reaching for the mouse during a surfing session, a few of which you might not have thought of (like automatically completing a .com address). Check out for more.

Table 7-4. Mozilla Firefox Keyboard Shortcuts


Keyboard Shortcut

Add Bookmark






Close Tab


Close Window


Complete .com Address


Complete .net Address


Complete .org Address






Decrease Text Size


Find on page




Full Screen




Increase Text Size


New Tab


Next Tab


New Window


Open File


Previous Tab




Reload (override cache, Section 7.4.1)


7.6.8 Rewinding Your Opera Session

Surfing the Web is generally a long and winding road ‚ and you're often far from where you started after you've been clicking around for hours. Opera offers a nice feature to help you get back to your starting point: you can "rewind" your surfing session to return to the first site you visited when you launched your browser.

To find your way back, just click the Rewind button, or press Shift-Z. This feature works separately for each tabbed window you have open, so when you rewind one window, it doesn't affect the other ones.

7.6.9 Waving the Opera Wand

Think of all the Web sites you log into ‚ all those user names, all those passwords. It's tough to remember whether you used your childhood nickname for your password, or the name of your favorite basketball star. And even if you can remember all of your user names and passwords, typing them over and over is a chore.

Solve both problems with Opera's Wand. Whenever you log into a site, Opera asks whether you want to save your user name and password. Tell Opera to save it. The next time you log into the site, click the Wand button and Opera automatically fills in those blanks for you.

7.6.10 Speeding Up Opera with Keyboard Shortcuts

Opera is a fast browser, but you can surf even more efficiently by using your keyboard instead of your mouse. Rather than point and click your way around the screen, save time using the Opera keyboard shortcuts, listed in Table 7-5.

Table 7-5. Opera Keyboard Shortcuts

Key Combination

What It Does


Opens the Preferences dialog box, which lets you change all of your preferences for using the program.


Opens a short list of frequently changed Opera preferences, for example, controlling pop-ups.

X Ctrl+RightAlt+Right

Goes to the next page in your history list.

Z Ctrl+Left Alt+Left Backspace

Goes to the previous page in your history list.


Opens your home page.


Toggles loading and display of images in the active page ‚ which can stop all images from loading on a page, then display those images when you press the key again.

0 + (Numeric)

Zooms in 10 percent.

9 - (Numeric)

Zooms out 10 percent.

6 * (Numeric)

Restores a zoomed page to normal (100 percent).


Opens a new browsing window.


Displays Opera help screen.


Displays the Keyboard Shortcuts page.

7.6.11 Nota Bene Opera

Wouldn't it be nice to be able to jot down notes as you browsed the Web, easily copying text from the sites you visit to your virtual notebook?

Opera lets you do just that ‚ and it's an outstanding feature. You can take notes, write reminders to yourself, or cut and paste text from Web sites using Opera's Notes tool. And when you double-click text you've pasted into a note from the Web, Opera takes you back to the site where you copied the text. For researchers, it's one of the all-time greatest features built into a browser.

To take notes in Opera, make sure the Hotlist (also called the Panel) shows in the left-hand pane. If it's not displayed, click the Hotlist icon on the top toolbar, or press F4. When the Hotlist is showing, click Notes. A list of any notes you've made in the past appears. To create a new note, click "New note," and type whatever you want ‚ or copy text from a site you're browsing. You can also create folders to organize your notes. Figure 7-18 shows Opera's Notes feature in action.

Figure 7-18. When you hover your mouse over a note in Opera, a balloon appears displaying the first part of the note, as you can see here. Opera lets you create an unlimited number of notes.

Windows XP Power Hound
Windows XP Power Hound: Teach Yourself New Tricks
ISBN: 0596006195
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 119

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