There are lots of ways you can customize your Internet Explorer browser so
it works the way you prefer. Here are some tips describing some of the
features you can adjust to customize the way you surf the Internet. Most of
these tips can also be done in other browser, but since I use Internet Explorer,
you'll have to search around your browser to find how to make these changes.
Setting Your Home Page
You can customize the start up page that appears when your browser opens.
If you find that the reason you're usually opening your browser is to search for information on the web,
why not set your favorite search engine as the startup home page. To set your
default home page in Internet Explorer, click Tools/InternetOptions/General.
Note the Home Page section of the dialog box. There you can either enter
a custom URL as your default, such as http://www.google.com to use Google as
your default search engine. You can also click Current Page to automatically
set whatever page you're currently on as the home page. You can click Default
to use Internet Explorer's default page, which is the main Microsoft Network (MSN)
news page. Or you can click to use a blank page, which seems like a waste
Once you've set the home page, you can quickly get back to it by clicking the
button on your browser toolbar that looks like a little house.
Cleaning Your Cache
Your browser's cache (pronounced cash, not cash-ay) is a temporary holding spot on
your hard drive where images and information gets temporarily stored from sites you visit while surfing the web. These items are stored to help speed your surfing the next time. Rather than
constantly having to wait for images to be loaded into view in your browser,
the images are stored in your cache after you first view them. The next time
you go to that same site, you'll save time because the browser will load the
local image to help the page load faster. Yes, that means if you want to see
what the family is viewing on the Internet, you can view the images in
your cache to see what's in there!
Your browser provides you with the ability to clear your cache to free up space (and destroy the evidence).
This is a good thing to do if you notice your browser running slowly, as the
allotted space may be full and it takes time to clear out old images that haven't
been accessed in a long time to make room for the new images to be cached. Also, if you need
to load a page with lots of images, such as a page of family picture, but you
realize your browser stalls out before all the pictures have loaded, it's time
to do a little cleaning. Notice the Temporary Internet Files section
on the options dialog image above. If you click the Delete Files button,
it will delete all the files currently stored in your cache. This will free up space and
can help solve some computer problems. However, also note that if you don't have pages or images from regularly visited sites stored or cached, it'll mean those sites may seem to load a little slower the next visit you visit, since it all has to be loaded again. So surfing may seem a little slower for awhile.
Another important note is that you should take care when clicking the Delete all offline content checkbox, which is an additional option you may see (depending on your browser version) after clicking the Delete Files button. Offline content would be those sites you've elected to have downloaded for offline viewing, like you can do with TechTrax (click the Offline Options menu item above for details). If you choose to also delete offline content, all your offline viewing sites will also be erased and you'll have to download them again.
You can also set a default size limit for how much hard drive space you want
your browser to use as a cache. So if you're short on hard drive space, you
may want to free up some of that space by lowering your cache. If you spend
a lot of time surfing the net and have lots of hard drive space, you can speed
up your surfing by making the default size larger. Click Tools/InternetOptions/Settings to bring up the settings dialog box.
From this Settings dialog you can view the files in your cache to see
where folks are surfing, as well as set how and when to cache files.
Change Text Size
If you have trouble viewing the text in your browser, you can adjust the size
of the text that is displayed. Click View/TextSize and you'll have five
optional sizes that can be set, from smallest up to largest available font. Note that this setting may also change the font size in your Office Help files, since newer versions of Office use HTML file. But if the eyes are
getting old, setting the font size to largest may make your surfing more enjoyable.
Conversely, if your eyes can easily read very small print, you might want to
set the size down some so you'll get more text on the page and have to do less
scrolling when reading pages.
You can also adjust the way the fonts are displayed, such as color or style.
Click Tools/InternetOptions and click the Accessibility button.
There you'll find options to make these further adjustments. If you need more
information to decide whether a particularly setting is something you want to select, move
your mouse over the option and right click. Choose What's This? to learn
more about each item.
Customize the Links Toolbar
Generally, folks quickly learn that they can save the URL to a favorite sites by adding them to their Favorites list. This saves the URL with an easy to remember site name so you can easily find your way back to
that site. However, few folks know that you can not only organize your
favorites into custom folders, but that you can add them to your Links
toolbar to have them more easily accessible to you. Click View/Toolbars
and click the Links toolbar to toggle it into view. You can then click
and drag the toolbar into full view or adjust the size, if you want it placed
along side the Address toolbar.
Click Favorite/OrganizeFavorites. A dialog box will appear that will
allow you to move saved URLs around, delete them, add new folders to better
organize your favorites or move URLs onto your Links toolbar.
Any favorite you add to the Links folder will appear on the Links
toolbar, making it easily accessible with a quick click. You can also add new
folders to the Links toolbar to help you better organize your links.
And finally, if you're anything like me, you have a ton of favorite web links saved. Although you can organize them via the Favorites/OrganizeFavorites dialog, I personally find that a bit of a pain. So know that you can also organize your favorites by using Windows Explorer! Just hit the Windows + E key combo to quickly open Windows Explorer and navigate to your Favorite folder which should be under c:\windows\favorites. There you'll find them listed in the same folders you see via the Favorites list in Internet Explorer. Move a shortcut from folder to folder here and they'll be moved when you check your browser's Favorites list.