The Browser Tutorial

Please Note: This page is produced from the material found on the three other sites...many thanks to them. You can show your gratitude by visiting their sites. Newbie, provides a lot of great tutorials for the computer novice. Firefox Tutor, has tutorials that go beyond the scope of this lesson and will transform you into the Firefox Geek that you long to be. Finally, at Mozilla is where you can get all the great plug-ins and add-on's for Firefox (Geek heaven.) Also, all of the images have been optimized to about 60% of the actual resolution to allow for faster download times. All of the MS Word scripts (arggh...) have been removed, grammar corrected where needed, the dreaded :) removed, it should have been replace with a #:>0 (the Lyle Lovett look,) and the page has been made W3C compliant.

The Tabbing Function

Now, this is one of the best features of Mozilla Firefox, and this is the component that threw IE into the ranks of the "also ran." Almost all of my time online I need to have many browsers open at the same time, and honestly, it can get quite messy sometimes. Mozilla Firefox has however added a very helpful function to the browser, called tabbing. This function is also available on Opera, Netscape, and IE 7.

Open your Mozilla Firefox browser, then press "Ctrl-T" at the same time. Your browser will now open a new tab that can be used, in the same browser window.

As you see by pressing "Ctrl-T" I now have 2 tabs in the same browser. :) You can alternate between these by pressing "Ctrl-Tab". If you need more browsing tabs simply press "Ctrl-T" again.

If you want the browser to open multiple sites when you start the browser, this is possible. Go Tools > Options...and you will see this choice in the "General" selection:

As you see the browser here gives you a variety of options, you can 1. use the pages you're currently browsing; 2. Choose startup pages from you bookmarks; 3. use a blank page. As you see in the screenshot, you can also write it the start pages manually, and if there's more than one, pided with a | mark. Use as many pages as you like.

There are more ways to control how tabs work as well, if you right-click on a tab, you'll see something like this:

Here you're able to create new tabs, reload the current tab (reload is also available via "Ctrl-R"), reload all tabs, close other tabs and finally close tab (also available via "Ctrl-W").


An important first step to enjoying any software is making it look pretty. So, the first thing I do is customize my tool bars, these are the bars at the top of the browser window that contain buttons, and URL bars, search bars and the like.

I - Toolbar Customization

When you first start out your toolbars probably look something like this:

Default Toolbar

--Toolbar in the beginning --

For most people Firefox's default toolbar configuration will be just fine, many of us however prefer a smaller sleeker appearance, and have some weird ideas as to where buttons should go. Lucky for us, Firefox makes this easy:

Right click on an empty area, and select "Customize". (This will open up the customization window). This window will generally contain several icons that aren't on your toolbars, if you desire you can drag these icons onto any toolbar to have them displayed. Likewise it is possible to drag any icon on the toolbars to another position or off the toolbar into the customization window. Also available in the customization Window is a check-box for large (default) or small icons.

When I first set up Firefox I move all of my navigation icons to the top toolbar and move to small icon mode (as a note it is actually faster to use large buttons, but something about the saving of screen real estate, and the appearance of the small Icons I enjoy).

When I'm done my tool bars look like this

Customized Toolbar

-- finished toolbar config --

II - Themes

A theme is a small file that dictates how Firefox looks, buttons, scrollbars, etc, can all be altered fairly easily and many variations are available at any time. Much like the customization of the toolbars a theme can have a dramatic effect on how you interact with a Firefox and I strong suggest giving it a shot if you are dissatisfied with the way Firefox looks.

In order to get more themes:

1.     Go to "tools" in the menu select "themes,"
2.     Click on the link at the bottom right that says "get more themes". Guess what happens?

The site that Mozilla uses to catalog themes and extensions, this is a trusted site, and you can be confident that all themes or extensions that are on this site have gone through at least some testing in order to ensure their compatibility and safety.

Once at one can relatively easily navigate through the list of Themes. However, because of a bug in the server software previews are not available for many of the themes at this time. I suggest visiting the theme homepage (listed in their entry) or just trying them out if they sound interesting.

Now you should have a browser that you like to look at, you'll find that as time goes on you might want to change things, move things around, you might decide that you have a better place to put something or that something you thought was important no longer is. regardless this is an important first step to owning your browser (and taking back the web).


Oft over looked navigation has come a long way since the Internet Explorer days. There are many features to take advantage of, and lots of times they are either taken for granted or forgotten. I've tried to compile some of the basics, and more advanced methods of navigation.


Tabs are probably the single most used navigation after the basics (forward, backward, url bar etc) one day they will be considered basic as well, but as it stands many new users don't have the foggiest about these little devils.

As an example of how to use tabs I tend to demonstrate the following (this takes a little imagination. bear with me.)

Lets say that you are writing a terribly important paper on Firefox, and as a result want to include some information about the Mozilla foundation. To do this you:

  1. Head to google and do a search for "Mozilla Foundation".
  2. See that there are too many choices.
  3. Hold down the control key and click the first 7 or so.
  4. Notice how your entire search is now neatly organized into tabs.

As a general reference the following are the ways in which one can make and manipulate tabs.

You will find these commands to be useful when browsing, even if they don't feel natural at first I encourage you to practice every once in a while, I think you'll come to understand why they exist.

Open My Files in a New Tab!!!

After you first install Firefox, and you go to open an HTML file from your hard drive, Firefox shows the file in whatever tab you last used, possibly navigating away from a web page that you're viewing. This can be quite annoying sometimes. Want to change it? Read on.

By the way, this one's pretty simple, so I don't think we need a screen shot. Bug me at if you want help.

Click the menu Tools > Options. Click the Advanced tab. Find the part that says Tabbed Browsing and it should list an option labled Open links from other applications in:. Now, you have three options.

"a new window"
"a new tab in the most recent window"
"the most recent tab/window"

If you prefer the files you open to be opened in a new window, select the first option. If you want the files you open to be opened in a new tab, in the last window you used, select the second option (If you have no windows open, a new one will be opened for the file). The default is the third one, which opens the file in the last tab you used.

So there you have it! A simple solution to a pesky peeve. (Use of alliteration was unintentional!)

Removing Cookies

1a) Removing Cookies from Internet Explorer 6:

1b) Preventing All Future Cookies in Internet Explorer 6:

2a) Removing Cookies from Firefox 1.5:

2b) Preventing All Future Cookies in Firefox 1.5:

Understanding URL's: How Internet URL Addresses Work

Part 1) Eleven Years of URL's, and Already There Are Billions.

In 1995, Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the World Wide Web, implemented a standard of "URIs" (Uniform Resource Identifiers), sometimes called Universal Resource Identifiers. The name later changed to "URL's" for Uniform Resource Locators.

The intent was to take the idea of telephone numbers, and apply them to addressing millions of web pages and machines.

Today, an estimated 31 billion web pages and Internet transmitters are addressed using URL names.

Here are six examples of the most-common URL appearances:

Example: telnet://
Example: gopher://

Cryptic? Perhaps, but outside of the strange acronyms, URL's are really no more cryptic than an international long-distance telephone number.

A URL Spelling Lesson

Here are some simplified rules to start your URL habits right:

a. A URL is synonymous with "Internet address". Feel free to interchange those words in conversation, although URL makes you sound more high-tech!
b. A URL never has any spaces in it.
c. A URL, for the most part, is all lower case.
d. A URL is NOT the same as an email address.
e. A URL always starts with a protocol prefix like "http://", but most browsers will type those characters for you. Nerdy point to note: some other common Internet protocols are ftp://, gopher://, telnet://, and irc://.
f. A URL uses forward slashes (/) and dots to separate its parts.
g. A URL is usually in some kind of English, but numbers are also allowed.

Some examples for you:
telnet:// The Internet's Cloaked Web, Explained

Web Pages That Exceed Google and Yahoo

Many untrained users have the mistaken expectation that they can locate anything Internet with Google or Yahoo. These two "Primary" search tools are indeed popular catalogs with amazing databases, but no, they do not index everything on the Internet.

Here are three statistics for you, taken from,, Cyberatlas, and MIT:

1) Google, commonly hailed as the best search database today, uses electronic spiders to read and catalog thousands of web pages each day. Google currently indexes 3.3 billion total web pages in its database.

2) Yahoo, a database powered by human editors and collaborative people effort, works much slower than Google robots to catalogue web pages. Yahoo currently indexes 1 million web pages.

3) As of December 2003, there are an estimated 45 billion publically-available pages on the World Wide Web, and another estimated 5 billion in private intranet pages.

The exact numbers are impossible to know, but the scale of these estimates is fair.

Assuming some overlap, then Google and Yahoo collectively catalog about 4 billion web pages and user postings, which is approximately 25% of the public World Wide Web.

That means 75% of the Web's available content is not searchable via Google or Yahoo.


Answer the questions below and do the Firefox and Opera activities.

  1. What is a cookie?
  2. How do you remove a cookie?
  3. What is a URL?
  4. What is the correct way to spell a URL?
  5. What is a Session Saver?
  6. What is a Blog?
  7. What is an ISP?
    1. How do they work?

Research, and then test a favorite password for strength. Here, here, or here are just a few locations to check passwork stregth. Or, just get the big list here. If you used the first three sites, did you notice how they differed on their interpretation of passwords? Why should you have strong passwords? Final note, if you are performing any financial transactions then all of your passwords should be strong or very strong. Never compromise your personal security. Be smart.


  1. Make your home page
  2. Use the Session Saver
  3. Change your skin/theme from the default
  4. Add SOME of the following Add-ons:
    1. Find and add some Web tools**
    2. Save Image in Folder
    3. Google Search Toolbar**
    4. Fasterfox**
    5. Fotofox
    6. MR Tech Local Install
    7. Google Web Accelerator
    8. Googlepedia
    9. Googlebar Lite
    10. HTML Validator
    11. AI Roboform Toolbar for Firefox... this is a great tool that will work best on your home computer.
    12. Colorful Tabs or something similar**
  5. Load at least five different themes (these are some suggestions):
    1. Noia 2.o
    2. PimpZilla
    3. Metal Lion
    4. AquaFox
    5. Modern Aluminum
  6. Create a custom toolbar:
  7. GOTO: View -> Toolbars -> Customize
  8. Click on: "Add New Toolbar"
  9. When it asks for a name, name it: "Standard"
  10. You will see a new menu bar appear below your navigation bar. Drag the following icons up to the empty bar.
    1. Print
    2. Separator
    3. New Window
    4. New Tab
    6. History
    8. Separator
    9. Copy
    10. Cut
    11. Paste
    12. Separator
    13. Now add some of the extensions/add-ons to your bar

Just for fun, click on the "New Tab" icon that you added to your tool bar. Notice how much easier it is for you to open new tabs, or new windows if you choose. The advantage is that you can work more efficiently. If you decide that you do not want to use the tool bar, then go to View and click on Standard so that it no longer has a check mark.


This is optional, but Opera is an exceptional browser. I have found it to be more secure than Firefox, faster, and not a memory hog like Firefox.

  1. Change your skin
  2. List and describe all of the "key features" of Opera. Speed dialing, and the wand are a couple of cool tools.
  3. How do you adjust Multimedia in Opera. Turn your sound off.
  4. Set up the form with your personal data so that you can use the "wand."
  5. Optimize your workspace.
  6. How do you Zoom, use Full-screen mode, or Fit-to-width mode?

Finally, you may choose either Firefox or Opera as your browser. With this in mind, select one of them to be your default browser. But, on the Mac OS you have Safari which is a good browser. In the years to come I would suggest that you experiment with different browsers, just make sure that you know how to import and export your 'favorites.'