Internet - Web Browsers

An Internet user needs to use browser software to download and interact with web pages. The web server sends a copy of the web page HTML instructions to the Internet user’s own browser. The browser software interprets these instructions, displaying the web page on the user’s computer.

A browser is a computer application that allows the user to send, receive and interact with the Internet. The best-known browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Safari, Camino and Firefox.

Browser software allows the user to:

[Remember, the Internet is the interconnection of networks and the World Wide Web is an Internet service.]

Browser software

Internet browser application software – like Microsoft Internet Explorer or Firefox, or Safari – allows the user, or more correctly, the browser, to display and interact with web pages. Internet Explorer is perhaps the more commonly used Internet browser application.

Browser software allows the user to navigate and search the WWW. Navigating the Internet means to move from one web page/site to another.

Browser software has a number of navigation tools to help the user move through the WWW:

Address bar

The address bar allows the user to enter the URL – universal resource locator – of the website that they wish to visit. The URL is the web address used by the browser to locate a resource.

Home button

The home button will move the user to the home page that has been set for the browser. This is always the first web page the browser accesses when it is launched. A useful ‘reset’ function.

Forward and back buttons

These two buttons allow the user to move to previously displayed web pages.

The Internet does not support backtracking. This means that an Internet user can travel to new web pages/sites but they cannot travel back to a previous web page without a specific link. To overcome this, browsers automatically store a list of the websites visited. The back and forward buttons use this list, allowing users to backtrack to previously visited web pages/sites. This is a browser facility, not an Internet facility.

Favourites folder

The favourites folder allows Internet users to store a list of their favourite websites, saving the bother of having to remember the URL, or write it down.

History folder

The history file is a record of all the websites and web pages visited, usually listed by the day and with a set time limit before deletion.

Navigation strategies

Two navigation strategies are:


The Internet user can move down through a website, visiting every web page.


The Internet user can investigate many different websites, only checking the content of a number of web pages.

Most users use a combination of depth and width strategies.


Browser software also has a number of utility tools, which allow the user to interact with the browser software. Some of these are:

  • full screen
  • text size
  • toolbars
  • Internet options
  • display source
  • save as.

[N.B.: In the following, examples are given for Internet Explorer. Similar facilities are available for other browsers.]

Full screen

This option allows the user to view the web page using the fullest screen size. The browser’s menu and toolbar will be hidden.

Text size

This option allows the user to set the web page text size to one of several sequential sizes. This option is useful if the text is too small to read, or too large to print out. If the text size is adjusted, the web page will not be displayed as the web author had intended. Changing the text size will cause the text to wrap around the window.


Allows the user to customise the web browser. The user can insert or remove the various sets of buttons (toolbars), the address bar, links window, etc.

If the Internet user downloads extra toolbars from Internet companies such as Google or Yahoo, the user can use this option to hide or show these toolbars.






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