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How to Customize your web browser  and increase the speed and safety of your surfing experience.


There are three major players in the internet browser game: Microsoft Internet Explorer (comes with Windows), Safari (comes with Mac), and Mozilla Firefox (the only one you need!).

I highly recommend Firefox.  Read on to find out why you should use it too...

*This is an Open Source browser.  This means that the code that developers use to create the browser is public and therefore created and refined by many, many people.  This collaborative effort makes sure that there are very few security holes and flaws in the program. After all, many heads are better than one. 

*Microsoft's Internet Explorer is prone to attacks from hackers (virus's, worms and other scary things). It also may not view all pages the way they are correctly intended (however, Microsoft does tend to design some of its own pages specifically for its own browser).

*Firefox will work on just about any computer, Windows, Mac or Linux.

*One of my favorite features is the integrated spell check.

*Firefox manages your downloads for you, restores your previous session including all tabs when you restart it, provides search suggestions in the integrated search box, manages your passwords and much more!

*Firefox Version 3 has some incredible upgrades- find out more here.

*It is highly customizable.  You can download simple add-ons that will greatly improve the tasks you do on a daily basis.  Choose from hundreds of "browser extensions" that will simplify your life.

*Now here's the fun part!  If the Add-Ons Page is too much for you, the following are some of my favorites.

  • Delicious- the best social bookmarking tool out there.  Get your bookmarks on any computer and search them instantly via tags for each page.

  • Pic Lens- search photos and images from many popular sites in an easy and super cool looking manner.

  • FoxyTunes- control any media player right from your browser.

  • Fox-it Reader- get rid of Adobe Reader, its slow and limiting. Fox-it allows you to edit pdfs and won't drag your system to a halt when it loads.

  • Change the look of Firefox with custom skins.


*Don't forget to set your custom homepage.  The browser will let you open several tabs at once and then bookmark all of them when you open it.  For example.  I do not have just one home page.  When I open Firefox it opens Yahoo Mail, Google Docs and Netvibes, each in their own tabs.  Now that's convenience!

*Learn a few other tips on my California Discovery Educator Network Blog post.

*Customize your bookmarks toolbar (known as links in Internet Explorer). Select View > Toolbars> Bookmarks Toolbar.  This will make them appear on the top row under the address bar. When you mark a webpage as a favorite, save it in the Bookmarks Toolbar Folder.

*Have you ever had a webpage open and were not sure if it was the most recent and updated edition? You can hit the refresh button on your browser (usually a circular arrow) or you can just hit the F5 button.

*Want to go back to the previous page, but hate moving your cursor to the "Back" button? Just hit "Backspace" or Alt and the back arrow. This saves a lot of time if you navigate back and forth frequently.