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What is a Web Browser?

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Surfing the web is made possible by Web browsers. Browsers are basically software programs that allow you to search for and view various kinds of information on the Web, such as web sites, video, audio, etc.

The Most Popular Web Browsers

Here are just a few of Web browsers available to you for a free download:
  • Microsoft's Internet Explorer: Most Internet users are using Internet Explorer because it's easy to use and most Web sites are written with Internet Explorer in mind, meaning that they are compatible.
  • Opera: Opera is another popular browser that's easy to use; however, it can have some compatibility issues with various websites.
  • Mozilla's Firefox: Firefox is rapidly gaining ground right behind Internet Explorer because of its tabbed browsing, superior security features, and fast load.
  • Mac Safari: Specifically for Mac users, Safari is an excellent choice for a Web browser, with fast load and good compatibility with most websites out there.

Breakdown of a Web Browser

We all know what a Web browser looks like, but it's good to have a complete breakdown of the various parts of most Web browsers just for reference's sake. The parts of a browser include:
  • Status bar: This is the box at the bottom of your browser window. The status bar displays all sorts of information, depending on what you're doing at the time, but mostly it's for showing load speed and the URL of whatever address your mouse is hovering over.
  • Address bar:This is the box at the top of your browser window that displays the entire URL, or Web site address.
  • Title bar: The title bar is at the very top of your browser window; in both Firefox and Internet Explorer it is the blue bar there at the top. You'll see the title of the Web page there; for example, you should see "What Is A Web Browser?" at the top of your browser window right now.
  • Toolbar Icons: The toolbar and its icons are at the top of your browser window right underneath the Title Bar. This is where you'll see the Back button, the Home button, the Refresh button, etc.
  • Display Window: The Display Window is just a fancy term for your browser work space; it's the frame through which you see this website right now.
  • Scroll Bars: If you've ever been to a website that you had to "scroll down" to read something, then you've used the scroll bars. They're just navigational/directional aids.
There's more if you REALLY want to get into the nuts and bolts of a Web browser, but these parts are the basic ones that anyone should be concerned about. And of course, not all browsers are created equal - so some of the above definitions might not be appropriate.

Which Web Browser is the Best?

This is a good question and one that is really only answered by personal preference. I was a diehard Internet Explorer user for many years until I tried Firefox, and then I dropped IE like a hot potato. I can't tell you which one to use, but I can say that I believe that Firefox is by far a superior browser; tabbed browsing capability, superior security options, and fast loading have made me a happy Firefox user.

How do you know which browser will work best for you? Well, they are all free to download, and so it can be a good idea to test them all if you are in doubt - and especially if you are a Web designer who needs to know what designs will work in what browser. As already stated, it does not cost a thing to download these browsers, so go ahead and test them out. The browser you choose to use can make all the difference in your search experience.

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