Test Drive #4 - Web Browsers

Getting around the web

A web browser is the software program loaded on your computer, Smartphone or a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) which you use to connect to the Internet. The browser is used for retrieving, presenting, and navigating information resources on the World Wide Web and email. An information resource is identified by an address or Uniform Resource Locator (URL) this may be a web page, image, video, or other piece of content. Hyperlinks in web pages or other resources enable you to easily navigate your browser to other sites or resources.

There are lots of different web browsers, but the most popular ones for computers are Windows Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome, and Opera. Smartphones and PDA’s also use web browsers specially designed for them.

Popular computer browsers

You are using a web browser right now to look at this page. Which web browser are you using?

Google explains what a web browser is:

Look at the blue bar at the top-left of your screen, this is the title of the web page and will display the browser logo.

What is the best web browser?

Brian Tong from Cnet hosts this fun video comparing the top four browsers against each other. These top four browsers will be compared against each other based on their speed, security, customization and special features.

Watch: Copy and paste this URL into your browser address field.

Web Browsers

You can download Internet Explorer 8, Firefox, Opera, Chrome and Safari for free from each company's website. If you have one browser already, you can test out the others. Note that there are slight differences between the Windows and Macintosh versions.

When you first launch your web browser, usually by double-clicking on the icon on your desktop, a predefined web page appears. This page is referred to as your home page or start page. With Firefox for instance, you may be taken to the Firefox start page or to a page selected by your Internet service provider.

Outfitted with a browser, you can surf to your heart's content, but it's easy to get lost surfing the net. That's where your browser really helps, as it comes loaded with all sorts of handy features. Fortunately, you can learn the basics in just a few minutes, and then explore the more advanced functions. Take the time to learn about its features and use the help pages from your menu bar. In the long run, it will save you hours of frustration and make finding resources and information more efficient.

Smartphones and PDA’s

Browsing the web is one of the advantages of owning a Smartphone. A browser's speed depends largely on the hardware capabilities of the phone it's loaded on. Touchscreen phones such as the iPhone are ideal for this as they're equipped to display Web pages on their larger screens. Some of the popular mobile browsers are iPhone's Mobile Safari, Palm Pre's WebOS, Opera Mini 5, Google's Android mobile OS and Blackberry Storm.


Take a Tour of Firefox 3.5 Watch the Video. Add comments to your blog on these features. How do they compare with the Google Chrome page you looked at?

Have a look at a Google Chrome page. It is a browser that combines a minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier


Download another browser to your library or home computer. Share your thoughts on this new browser. If you are unable to download a browser to your pc because of firewall restrictions at your library, let us know your thoughts and discuss on your blog.

Fashion Your Firefox —a handy Web application that recommends add-ons based on your interests. Would you find one of these applications useful?



Browse Add-ons for FirefoxHave a look at the Popular and just added add-ons. Can you see one that would be useful in the library?

Browse the Collections would you find the Reference Desk collection useful for your library?


  1. I've been using Firefox at home for some time, and have Explorer at work. I like Firefox better. I have the search add-on that is helpful for quick searching, and you can add your own choice of Dictionary, Wikipedia, Google, etc. I've also recently learned about Bingle - - which simultaneously runs your search through Google and Microsoft's new Bing. The comparisons are sometimes interesting.
    I might use the Read Later feature of the Reference Desk collection, but probably wouldn't have time to actually read later! In our library it is quicker to be a clever Googler than to attempt to collect up ranges of "reference" sites in a directory.

  2. Rocker said,
    After using firefox, i think i'll stick with it. It is quicker than Internet explorer and does a better job of copying web information into word documents,especially music.
    I chose the "Foxy Tunes" add-on and it is awesome, providing a huge choice of music styles to listen to whilst working on the web.Every tune heard gives the artist and album name which is a great way to find new music and artists that you have never heard before. I'm already addicted to this add-on.
    There is something for everyone at the reference desk collection and personally i'd use "The Ultimate Discovery Tool" To locate similar sites. The "Wired -Marker" would be great for revisiting specific information and The "Scrapbook" would be useful for oragnizing all the stuff you file away for future use.
    However, these reference tools would only be a useful investment of your time if you were actively engaged in reference work.