Make your Internet browser do more for you
It’s remarkable that one of the most important pieces of software on anyone’s computer, laptop, or mobile device is free and easy to use, has many features and enhancements that are hardly used, and causes a lot of confusion.
This often baffling program is called an internet browser and you use one to see and experience the internet. It’s the program you open to visit your favourite websites, read the news, do your banking, watch Youtube videos, and update your Facebook news feed.
Of the dozens of browsers available there are three that dominate the field. Their names are Firefox by Mozilla, Google’s Chrome, and Edge which is included as the builtin browser in Windows 10 and replaces the ancient and flawed Internet Explorer.
Chrome and Firefox are also available for your smartphone or tablet.
Of the three, it seems that Google Chrome is the one that causes a ton of confusion. Google (www. google.ca) is a website where you enter terms and search for information or websites on the internet and you can access it from any browser on your computer or mobile device. Google Chrome, on the other hand, is an internet browser made by Google and, coincidentally, it’s the most popular one in the world.
Yet, even though there are only three popular browsers, many people are pretty vague about which one they use or what it actually does. A very quick way of finding out is to go to a website appropriately called What’s My Browser (www. whatsmybrowser.org) which will automatically tell you the browser you’re using along with other info about your computer.
If you’d like to examine a selection of the many browsers available, Top Ten Reviews has ratings and reviews of what it considers to be the ten best (http://tinyurl. com/juvclz8). You can go ahead and download several internet browsers with which to experiment since they’re all free and can be installed on your computer without any conflicts.
Any browser will let you access the internet but not all of them are equal in terms of the number of extra features and enhancements available. Firefox and Google Chrome stand out because each has thousands of add-ons which will improve how the software works or provide new features or enhancements. You can even choose from thousands of themes to change the appearance of each browser, such as embellishing it with flowers or giving it a Star Wars look.
To browse the add-ons available for Firefox open the program, click on the three little lines at the top right, click on Add-ons, and then Get Add-ons, or you can go directly to the Add-ons website (https:// addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox). Be aware that there are over 300,000 add-ons to choose from so you could start by checking the list of the best ones according to the Lifehacker site (http://tinyurl. com/l72pdbr).
I installed the Canadian English Dictionary (http://tinyurl. com/5lbp48) which monitors my spelling when I’m typing e-mails online or filling in forms. The Image Zoom add-on http://tinyurl.com/2qb8yc) lets me enlarge any image with a right mouse click and Ad Block Plus (http://tinyurl. com/3qtgneg) makes web pages so much more pleasant by stripping out intrusive ads. Installing an add-on is as simple as clicking on an install button.
Google Chrome has tens of thousands of similar additions which it calls extensions. To get an idea of what’s available take a look at 35 top-rated ones at the Beebom site (http://beebom.com/bestgoogle-chrome-extensions). To browse or search for and install extensions open the Chrome browser, click on the three little dots in the top right, then More Tools, and Extensions, or go directly to the Chrome Web Store (https://chrome.google.com/ webstore/category/extensions).
If you are using the Edge browser with Windows 10 there is some good and mostly bad news. Finally, after almost a year, Microsoft has made extensions available for Edge but there’s only a handful, although you’ll find some pretty useful ones among the paltry selection. The Make Use Of website (http://tinyurl.com/j6qrj99) has a review of the 10 best Edge extensions and instructions for installing them.