Viewing the Internet through Windows -
 Tips, Tricks and Shortcuts

A Tutorial for Windows Beginners and Experienced Users

by Kris Driessen

The Internet is a network of computers sharing information through the World Wide Web. Think of the Internet as the Interstate system and the World Wide Web (WWW) as the actual roads. When you make an inquiry of an Internet site, your request has to go through a series of paths on the WWW to get to the computer on which the site is located. Each time that path needs to change direction, it does so through a hub. Once your request reaches the website, the information has be determined and sent back through the same hubs. If any of these hubs gets too busy, another hub might be used, or.... the packet of information might be lost.

Who pays for all this? You do, in part. The money you pay to your Internet Service Providers (ISP) for your E-mail and Internet access helps support their server, which might well be one of the paths your informational requests takes. In addition, Web site owners pay their for the space their site takes on their ISP's server. They, in  turn, make money from the sale of goods and services through that website or from advertisers using banners, pop-ups, pop-unders and affiliate programs.   There is no authority agency or company that decides what can and cannot be published on the internet. This means that virtually anyone can publish anything. Their only cost is the cost of renting space on a server.

To access the Internet, you need to use a web browser such as Internet Explorer, Netscape or Opera. These tips refer specifically to Internet Explorer, but can be used in other browsers as well.

Customizing your work area

This picture is called a thumbnail.  Click on it to enlarge it.  Click the back button to get back to this page.Open Internet Explorer and look at the Menu bar. In the pull down menu under Tools, choose Internet Options. Click on the general tab. This tab gives you several options. It will allow you to choose your home page,Home page button which is the first page that see when you open your browser. Any time you press on your browsers Home page button, you will go back to to his page.   [The picture to the left is called a thumbnail. Click on it to enlarge it. Click the back button to get back to this page.]

As you are exploring the Internet, the pages you view will be stored in your browsers history to improve download time the next time you view that page. You can reduce the amount of time these pages are kept in the history, and clear the files (cache) of the pages you have already seen on this tab.  To reduce the impact on your computer, I suggest clicking on the settings button in the middle of the page and changing the amount of disc space you use to store temporary internet files to 10MB.  Also, change "days to keep pages in history" to 0.  

You can also influence the way you view web pages from this tab. If the page designer did not specify a font (letter) or size, you can change this in the Fonts area. I suggest Verdana, which is an font specifically designed for easy reading on the Internet. You can override the designer if you must by using the accessibility button on this tab. The colors button to the left of the Fonts button allows you to choose a "hover" color which highlights links when you hold (or hover) your cursor over them.  

A link (short for hyperlink) is a word or picture which the web designer has coded so it leads to another place on the Internet.  Links are usually in blue text and underlined.  Not always, though!  What visual clues has the designer given you to the links on this page?  If you would like to visit a hyperlink without losing the page you are on, click on it while holding down the shift button to open that hyperlink in a new page.  

If you are on a web page and would like to open another one without clicking on a link, you have several options. You can use CTRL -N to open a new copy of that page, or use CTRL-O to open a dialog box which will allow you to type in the URL of a new page.  

If you find yourself on a web page which has too-small text, you don’t have to go to the Tools button to change the text. You can go to View/Text size or simply hold the CTRL button down while scrolling on your mouse wheel, if you have one.

Windows KeyTo make an open window bigger, you can either click on the square open box in the upper right hand corner next to the X or you can double click on the blue bar at the top of the window.  Reverse the process to minimize this window. To The Application Key minimize all open windows at once, use your WIN key (left) WIN-D minimizes all open applications. Do it again to reverse the process.  Another key which is very useful is the Application key, (right) which is a specialized key with a picture of a tiny menu with pointer on it. While you're working in any program, pressing this key will open the shortcuts menu for that program. Right clicking does the same thing.

To quickly close a pop up or pop under, you can click on the X in the upper right hand corner, right click on the application in the task bar and choose close (Alt-F4 works here, too) or use CTRL - W. If a window opens off to one side and you can’t reach the X button on the side, just left click on the blue bar and while holding the mouse button down, drag the window off to the left. If the window opens up too high and you can’t reach the blue bar, click anywhere on the page and choose ALT-spacebar to bring up a menu.

Part of your web page viewing area is taken up with the tool bar (on top) and the task bar (on the bottom.) Right click on a blank area of the tool bar and uncheck some or all of the buttons to get rid of them. The task bar at the bottom can hide when not in use.  Right click on it and choose "auto hide" to hide to hide it when not needed. Pull your cursor over it to get it to pop up. For a quick fix, just hit F11.

Using Search Engines

Search engines index the information on the Internet.  Since different search engines work on different principles some engines are better suited for certain searches than others. Engines like Google, Teoma and WiseNut are good for pulling up results in response to general search terms. These engines monitor how popular pages are and the more popular pages will rank higher in your search results.

To avoid getting too many results, be as specific as possible with your search terms. If you need words in a certain order or as a phrase, use quotations around the phrase. For example, "George W Bush" rather than George Bush.  If you are going to search for something common, you can qualify that search by using a second word with a + or - in front of it. For example apple -computer will bring up more information on something you eat than something you use.  Keyboard +yamaha is a better choice if you want something for your piano.

Sites like Yahoo are actually compiled directories. They only contain sites that have been registered by the creators, and there are usually short descriptions. These sites are organized by categories, and you have to use drill down menus to get to what you want.

If you get a "site not found" error, it may still be possible to find the site. Keep going backwards on the URL until you come to the root. For example, the root of might be or it might be or just Keep trying! 

If all else fails, Google offers you the chance to look up sites that are in their cache. Just click on the word "cached" next to the search option. You can also check the WayBack Machine to see what a particular web page looked like at some time in the past.  Incidentally, you don't need to type in the full address.  If you want to go to a .com site, instead of typing it in full, for example.. just type microsoft and hitting Ctrl+Enter will add in the rest of the URL.

To scroll quickly through a page, hit the space bar.  To quickly find information on a page full of text, use CTRL-F. To copy the information you find, hold the mouse button down and drag it over the text. It will become highlighted. Use the edit pull down menu to select "copy". Open a word processing program and use "paste" in the edit menu to paste the text on this page. Most word processing applications also have a clipboard icon in the tool bar which is also the paste function. To quickly go back and forth between open windows, use ALT-TAB. If there is a great deal of text to be selected, you can use CTRL-A to select it. CTRL-C will copy it, and CTRL-V will paste it on the new page. If you make a mistake, CTRL-Z will undo it, as will the "undo" function in the edit pull down menu.

If you navigate off a page and would like to find it again, you can keep hitting the back button, the ALT-left arrow key or CTRL-H to see your history. If you have been surfing where you shouldn’t, you can clear this history from the general tab of Internet Options under tools as shown in the picture above.  

If you find a really great site, you can bookmark it through the Favorites pull down menu, or by using CTRL-D.  To see these favorites, use the Favorites menu again or use CTRL-I.   To organize them, use CTRL-B.  You like a page so much you want it as a shortcut on your Desktop. Use Shift+F10 and the menu drops down. Type the letter "T" (or click on Create Shortcut). This puts it on the Windows Clipboard. Minimize all your windows until the Desktop appears. Right click in an open space, then choose "Paste Shortcut" from the drop-down menu. An icon appears, and the next time you want this page, click on it.

More shortcut keys:

Shift+F10 is the same as a right mouse click for opening a context menu.

Ctl+Esc displays the Start menu.

Alt+Esc switches to the next window currently active in the taskbar

Alt+Tab toggles to a new active window with each touch of the Tab key.

CTRL- R is refresh

CTRL-P brings up the Printer dialog box.  If you would like to see how many pages you are going to print, go to the File pull down menu and choose Print Preview.  After a moment or two, a corner of the document will show you how many pages there are.  

SHIFT - TAB - tab backwards through a form

SHIFT & Restart - To restart just windows and not your whole computer, hold down the shift key when you click the OK button on the shutdown screen. Saves lots of time.

WinKey+D Shows/Hides the Desktop

WinKey+E Opens an Explorer window

WinKey+F Find: All Files

WinKey+M Minimizes all open windows

WinKey+Tab Cycles through taskbar program buttons

Here is another tip:  Export Your Favorites

Exporting your entire favorites list to a file will give you an HTML page full of the links to all your favorite sites, a very useful way to share this list between computers.  To do this, just go to the go to the file pull down menu on Explorer, and choose Export Favorites.  Follow the onscreen prompts.  You can select an individual folder or your entire book-mark file. Choose a place to save it or accept the default.  Just be sure to note where that is!  Otherwise, you will have to use one of the tips above to find it.  

Click here to send me your questions and comments.  If that link doesn't work, click here.


E-mail doesn't work?  Did you correctly set up your mail client under Internet Options?  To double check, select Internet Options in the Tools pull down menu.  Click on the Programs tab, probably the sixth one over.  In the E-mail client box, be sure to select the one you are using. (Lotus Notes, Eudora, Outlook, etc.)  Click apply then OK and try again. 

Do you need to send an E-mail to a lot of people?  Don't put all their addresses in the "To:" section.  Just put in YOURS, with all the rest in "BCC".  (Blind carbon copy) That way, you get a copy of what you sent out and everyone else gets the same note without rows and rows of E-mail addresses to wade through before they get to the message.

Questions?  Comments?  Write me!

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