June 01, 1998
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio June 1998 Current Issue

Net Gains


Have You Customized Your Browser?

Choose the look and sites that suit your needs

Some people use the Web for research. Some use the Web for shopping. Some use the Web to meet other people. Some use it to book hotel rooms, to schedule limo rides or to send out RFPs. Some use it for all of the above. With so many variables, the developers and designers of the software that gives you access to the Internet were faced with a very difficult dilemma: What should a browser look like, and what should it be able to do? After a few years of trial and error, the creators of the two most popular browsers, Netscape's Navigator and Microsoft's Internet Explorer, have come up with products that let you answer those questions.

These programs have a number of options that allow you to choose many of the colors that appear on your screen, zero in on great sites, pick where to start your Internet day and much more. To get the most out of the browser you've chosen, try some of the following procedures to begin to customize. Since you can change most settings at any time, experiment with them until you find the ones that work best and give you the optimum look, feel and functionality.

The best place to start is with the general preferences. Select "preferences" from the "edit" menu in Netscape or "Internet options" from the "view" menu in Explorer. Once you open Netscape preferences, you'll see an outline of the different subsections (such as appearance, Navigator, etc.). With Explorer, the Internet options window appears as a dialog box with tabs separating the subsections.

These options allow you to specify colors, fonts, toolbar appearance, the Web site the browser goes to when you first open it and other functions. There are no "correct" settings, but we recommend not checking the boxes to override colors or fonts specified by a Web page. Every site has been designed to look a certain way. By overriding the choices of the designer, you won't be able to see the page as it was meant to be seen.

Another wonderful, yet often misused feature of both browsers is "bookmarks" (Navigator) or "favorites" (Explorer). These act as a sort of speed dialer for your favorite sites, making it easy to jump to the pages you visit the most. In Navigator, you can jump to any "bookmarked" page by clicking on the "bookmarks" icon. A new bookmark can be added by simply dragging the location icon (next to the location window) onto the bookmarks icon.

A well-organized bookmark folder is essential. If you already have several bookmarked pages and would like to organize them, just choose "edit bookmarks" under the bookmarks icon and a window will pop up with an outline of the folders and their contents. By clicking on a bookmark, you can delete it by choosing "del" under the "edit" window, or you can drag it into another folder.

In Explorer, when you click on the "favorites" button on the main menu bar, the screen is broken into two frames. By choosing a link from the left frame, the window on the right is updated with that link. Bookmarks can be arranged in this window simply by dragging and dropping. To add a bookmark, just choose "add to favorites" under the favorites menu. You can build a hierarchical system of folders within folders by choosing the "create in" command from the favorites menu. An example of this might be a folder called "annual meeting" that contains a folder called "accommodations" that contains a folder called "hotels" that has a list of Web sites that you have visited.

Now that your browser looks and functions more the way you want it to, here are a couple of other hints on using your browser more efficiently.

  • In Netscape and Explorer, you can view multiple pages simultaneously. Just choose "new window" under the file menu and voil&aagrave;!
  • By clicking on the arrow to the right of the address or location bar, a pull-down menu of the sites you have visited in that session appears. Now you don't have to keep pressing the back button to get to that page you saw 20 minutes ago.
  • In Explorer, click on the history button in the main menu. This splits the screen into two frames like the favorites button, but lists the sites you have visited for as far back as you like. You can set your history preferences in the Internet options section.
  • The latest versions of Navigator and Internet Explorer make it easier than ever to view the Web the way you want it. Do yourself a favor: Take the time to familiarize yourself with your browser and customize your settings so that you get the most out of your Web experience.

    Rodman Marymor, CMP, and Jeffrey Rasco, CMP, are partners in San Francisco and Austin, Texas-based HMR Associates, providing technology solutions for the meetings industry.

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