What is a Web Browser?

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Think about using the Web. How did you access your favorite websites today? Were you able to search using a search engine? Listen to music? Watch a video? Find information on something? Everything that you looked at during your travels online was seen via the platform of a web browser. Using the web is made much more easy and user-friendly by these programs; the Web would look quite different without them!

 Web browsers are incredibly useful software programs that allow you to search for and view various kinds of information on the Web, such as web sites, video, audio, etc., putting all this information into a more easily accessible, viewable format. In other words, rather than seeing the "ingredients" of the various websites we like to visit, a Web browser makes it possible for us to see the finished product. 

The Most Popular Web Browsers

Here are just a few of Web browsers available to download for free:

  • 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.
  • Google Chrome: Yes, Google has its own Web browser, and just like Google, it's fast and easy to use. 
  • Opera: Opera is another popular browser that's easy to use, and many people especially enjoy its' built-in privacy features. 
  • 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're all probably familiar with the basics of what Web browsers actually look like, since we use them every day. However, it's good to have a complete breakdown of the various parts of most Web browsers in order to be as informed as possible. 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.

    These are the basic terms of a Web browser that are good to know. Of course, not all browsers are created equal - so some of the above definitions might not apply. 

    Which Web Browser is the Best?

    This is a good question and one that is really only answered by personal preference.How do you know which browser will work best for you? All browsers are free to download, and so it can be a good idea to test them all if you are in doubt -  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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