If there’s one thing that almost every single student at UMass does with their computer, it’s go online and look at websites. You may be looking at websites just for homework, to check out Facebook, browse reddit or do some research for a class. No matter what you use it for, though, there’s a lot of helpful hints and useful keyboard shortcuts that can make your web browsing experience better.
Before we get into some of the things that make surfing the internet an easier, hassle-free experience, a very important part of web browsing is the browser that you use to connect. If you use a Windows computer, it came with Internet Explorer pre-installed. Despite the catchy advertisements with that great song that they played, Internet Explorer is far from a modern, recommended browser.
If you are on a Windows computer, it is recommended that you use either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. These browsers are faster, more secure, and have more technologies built into them to allow for compatibility with more websites and operating systems. Very often, the people who come in to the OIT Help Center reporting a malware or virus infection were using Internet Explorer. This isn’t to say that using Internet Explorer means you’ll get a virus, but you will be less susceptible to one by using a different browser.
For those not using Windows, you’re in better shape. Mac OSX computers come with Safari pre-installed. If it’s something that you’ve become familiar with and like, it’s fine to keep using it. If there’s something about it that you’re just not a fan of, a switch to either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox may be your next move. For Linux users, generally Firefox is used, though you can use Chromium. Google Chrome is also out for many major distributions of Linux.
Now, for the part that will make your life better even if you’re already using a browser that you enjoy: keyboard shortcuts. All modern browsers use tabs, which are essentially different windows of the same application all in one place for ease of access. I’m sure many of you already use tabbed browsing, but you may not be exploiting all of the conveniences they offer to the fullest extent.
For example, to open up a new tab, hold control and hit T (command and T on a Mac). To close your current tab, hold control and type W (command W on Mac). To switch to the next tab to the right, hold control and hit tab (control tab on Mac as well). To switch to the previous tab, hold control and shift, then hit tab (again, control shift tab on Mac). To open up the most recently closed tab, hold command and shift, then hit T (command shift T on Mac). Another cool trick is that you can middle click on a tab to close it (clicking with the mouse wheel).
Those shortcuts should be enough to get you started and, once you get used to them, make your web browsing experience faster and more efficient. For more information about other cool things that you can do with your browser, check out the settings menu of your browser. How to get there is different for each one, but each different browser has some cool settings and capabilities you may not be aware of. For even more information, see the links below. Happy browsing!