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Just browsing around…

The more information becomes available online, the more hours of our days we will spend using a web browser. Most people don’t pay too much attention to their browser – after all, it’s the content it serves up, the web pages you’re visiting, that are the important part, right?

True. Still, there are ways that your browser can assist you in getting work done and staying organized if you’re willing to occasionally think outside the box that web site content is in.

Below are some tips – ranging from the rudimentary toward slightly high-tech; if you’re a novice user, you may find them enlightening; if you’re a heavy-duty geek you will more than likely find them boring, in which case please add to comments below with your own suggestions for how you squeeze the most out of your web browsing experience.

* note: most everything described below will work with the most popular, modern, cross-platform (Windows and Mac) browsers – Internet Explorer (Win only) Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera.



The first thing you need to think about, if you’re not already, are tabs. All the modern browsers are tabbed – that is, in addition opening more than one browser window at a time, you can open multiple web pages within a single browser window – each in it’s own tab.

Different browsers handle tabs in different ways although the basic principles are the same; most are set to open any link you click on in the same window you are currently in, but can be set to instead open any link in its own tab. Why would you want to do this?

1) search results

Ever performed a search and got lost down a rabbit hole, and then wanted to get back to that original page of results? From your search results page Command-click (Mac) or Control-Click (Windows) and the link will instead open in its own tab; decide it’s not the right item/article you’re looking for? – your original search page is still there in the first tab. You can compare various search results side-by-side by opening multiple tabs.

2) planning a trip

If you have to travel for an event somewhere – say a conference – perhaps you have a browser window open with the page for the conference; you can open another tab and search for the location in Google Maps; and open another to price out airfares (even compare competing airlines side-by-side).


Bookmarks bar

Every modern browser allows you to create bookmarks – quick reminder links back to pages you visit often. Generally when you add a bookmark it gets dumped into a list; if you’re like me, this list can get long and cluttered very easily, so keep this organized – you can nest bookmarks into folders.

Another tool that’s handy is that browsers have a bookmarks bar (it may be called different names depending on the browser). This bar – which normally runs across the top of the browser window under the main toolbar/address bar – may be hidden by default, but can be turned “on”; it allows you to drop the most important links at the top of the browser window. You can also create folders and nest bookmarks here.

One of the “tricks” is that most browsers give you control over how these bookmarks are named; you’ll note when you first add one, it defaults the bookmark name to the page name (the name the programmer puts in the Title field of the page’s HTML code and that appears at the top of the browser window). You can edit this, thus giving you more room on your bookmarks bar.

Want to get even more clever? Use UNICODE characters – these are the symbols that are part of fonts outside of the usual arabic alphabet.


Status bar

The Status bar generally runs along the bottom of the browser window. Again, like the Bookmarks bar, it may be turned off (or hidden) by default; some browsers – like Firefox and Chrome – have made it visible only when you mouse-over a link on a web page. That really is its only job – to display the “status” of the link you move your mouse cursor over; mouse-over a link and it displays the URL (Universal Resource Locator, or internet address) that the link points to.

The advantage to having it visible is that it can give you, the end user, some “heads-up” as to what clicking the link you’re currently pointing at will mean; by looking at the URL, you can tell if it’s going to open a web page on the site you’re on, or on a different web site, whether that page will by default open in a new window or tab, or if the link in fact points toward a file rather than a page.




Not for the faint of heart – some sites provide “bookmarklets”, these are bookmarks that are actually a piece of Javascript code that do things; if you’re savvy enough, you can “roll your own”:

1) email

Copy the following text:


Go to your browser and find Show All Bookmarks in your Bookmarks menu, and create a new Bookmark, in your Bookmarks toolbar; paste the code into where it asks for Location. Name it “email” or “email with Title/Text”

This link will create a new email in your email application (must be a desktop client, like OutLook or Mail) with the title of the web page as the Subject of the email, and the URL pasted into the body. Wanna get more fancy? Do the same, and in the middle of the javascript where you see “(location.href=’mailto:?SUBJECT”, enter an email address after “mailto:” – such as:


This will cause the link to do everything listed above, but ALSO plunk in that email address; this makes, for instance, sending content from your work computer to a home email account (or vice-versa) a matter of couple of clicks.


2) Quix

A pre-built javascript applet that connects to an online web application – that’s basically what Quix is; and it’s free!

To begin, visit and click and drag the orange “button” called Quix App to your Browser’s Bookmark bar. When you click on the Quix bookmarklet, it opens a window into which commands can be typed; simply type “help” to get a list of all commands.

What’s cool about Quix is that the commands will work on either text that you input into the Quix window, or any text that you have selected on the current web page. For instance, select any bit of text, click the Quix bookmarklet, type “g” and hit enter. Whatever text you have highlighted will be entered into a Google search.


This is just a scratch on the surface; there are lots of ways to speed up your web-based work. What are yours? Share your ideas in Comments!

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