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Windows Tweak Week: Day 2

3 April 2008 No Comment

Web browsing accounts for a large amount of time that a teacher spends looking for ideas and information. It is actually part of the job that I enjoy quite a bit, but it doesn’t mean that I want to spend all of my time in front of a monitor. Actually, the quicker and more efficiently I can do what I need to do on the web, the happier I am. So, this post is dedicated to just that, shortcuts to getting around quickly and efficiently in your browser of choice.

The first stop in this topic should then be shortcuts. They are buttons or combinations of buttons that enable useful features that normally require you to use your mouse.(What? Why wouldn’t you just use your mouse?) Because time is wasted between switching back and forth between the mouse and keyboard.

Beautiful shortcut for putting your browser into full page mode. This little used feature will optimize your browser’s screen real estate. This is very useful when trying to show off a webpage to a class or group. Enabling this feature removes a lot of the navigation buttons at the top, and the status bar at the bottom. It allows you to show more of what you want to your audience and less of what you don’t.

Quickly highlights everything in the address bar. This allows you to immediately type a new address. This is great for using ctr+enter which adds www. and .com to whatever you type in the address bar.

Quickly tab through each of the tabs that you have open.

Webpage Shortcut on your Desktop
Several schools are taking away the ability to change your home page. This may or may not be your case, but in the event that it is, here is a tip. Place a shortcut for any page right on your desktop. Clicking on it will not only open your browser, but will also take you directly to the page that you want to go. To do this you only need to navigate to the page that you want to have a shortcut, then drag the little icon that appears directly to the left of the address bar to your desktop. Bam! Granted, it has a lot of text in the name on the shortcut, but that can be changed as well by right clicking on the new shortcut and editing it’s title.

CTRL+T will immediately open a new tab in the current window, if your browser currently has tabbed browsing. CTRL+N will open a new browser window.

Entered the wrong page and want to go back quickly? Hit the backspace button to go directly back to the last page you left.

Mouse Clicking
A lot of time is lost trying to highlight words or phrases to be copied, especially if you are on a laptop and dealing with a trackpad. Typically you have to precisely place the cursor just before or after the word or phrase you want and then drag it. To shorten this considerably, use your mouse. Double clicking on a word will hightlight the entire word. Triple clicking will highlight the entire line. Shift plus your arrows will also fine tune what you are highlighting. Shift+left/right will increase/decrease the amount you have highlighted by one character. Shift+up\down will increase/decrease by a line. CTRL+A will highlight everything on a page. These typically work in most applications on your computer where text is consearned.

Sure these take a bit of time to master/remember, but once you do, it will save a lot of the time you waste switching between mouse and keyboard.

Finally, notice that I have been saying browser instead of “Internet Explorer” even though this is a Windows-only post. That is because IE isn’t the only player in the game. As a matter of fact, I hardly use it at all. There are several browsers that you can use, but if you want to use the browswer that IE is always playing catch-up with, you could try FIreFox. It is a free software, and other than being what IE strives to catch-up with, it also boasts the ability to add extensions to it. Some of these extensions add more functionality to Firefox itself with great utilities for downloading, browsing, bookmarking, and so on. Here is a great article from ComputerWorld that highlights 20 of the top plugins. The article is about a year old already, but the plugins that it highlights are still in use and have, in most cases, been updated to be even better. Go here to try Firefox, and here to see a directory of many of their current plugins.

Other browser tweaks? Let us know in the comments.

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