Browse Quickly from the Windows 8 Start Screen

Built for quick, on-the-fly browsing, the Windows 8 Start screen’s browser works quickly. Part of its speed comes from its limitations, though. Every site fills the screen, making it easy to read. But the browser shows the sites in their full glory only by hiding its own menus, making navigation challenging.

To open Internet Explorer from the Start screen, click its tile. The browser opens, filling the screen with your last-viewed site.

When you want to visit someplace else, fetch the browser’s hidden menus with any of these commands:

  • Mouse: Right-click a blank portion of the web page, away from any words or pictures.

  • Keyboard: Press Windows+Z.

  • Touchscreen: From the screen’s top or bottom edge, slide your finger toward the screen’s center.

The browser’s top and bottom menus appear.

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  • Currently open sites: Your last-visited sites appear here, letting you revisit them with a click. (Or, you can close them by clicking the X in their upper-right corner.)

  • New Tab: Clicking this icon fetches a blank screen with an Address Bar along the bottom. Type in the address of the website you’d like to visit.

  • Tab Tools: Clicking this icon brings a drop-down list with two options: New InPrivate Tab and Close Tabs. Select the New InPrivate Tab option to open a new tab for visiting a website privately; the browser will conveniently forget you’ve visited that site. The other menu option, Close Tabs, removes the thumbnails of all your previously viewed sites from along the browser’s top.

  • Back: This icon on the bottom left lets you revisit the page you just visited.

  • Address Bar: Type in the address of a website you’d like to visit in this box. Or just type in a subject, and your browser will search for it, displaying possible matches. Tip: Click inside the Address Bar to see a list of your frequently visited sites, as well as sites you’ve pinned to the Start screen.

  • Refresh: Handy for viewing news sites, this icon reloads the currently viewed page, gathering the latest material available.

  • Pin to Start: Take note of this one: When you find a website you like, click this icon to add the page to your Start screen as a tile. That gives you one-click access for a return visit.

  • Page Tools: This icon fetches a menu with two main options: Find On Page lets you search for text on the current page, whereas View on the Desktop lets you view that page on your desktop’s Internet Explorer, which is handy when the Start screen’s browser can’t display something correctly.

    A third option, Get App for This Site, appears only when the site offers an app for direct access. (Accessing some sites is easier with an app than the browser.)

  • Forward: Just as in the desktop browser, this icon lets you return to the page you just left.

You can also search for items through the Charm bar’s Search icon. Here’s a hint: Point your mouse at the screen’s top- or bottom-right corner to fetch the Charms bar; then click the Search icon and type a name for what you’re hankering.

When you’re on the go and looking for quick information, the Start screen’s speedy browser and its simple menus might be all you need. When you need more control, though, or if a website doesn’t seem to display properly, head for the desktop browser, described next.

On many sites, the Start screen’s browser doesn’t support Flash, a popular technology for displaying web videos. If you find a site that says you need a Flash plug-in, ignore it. Instead, click the Page Tools icon and choose View on the Desktop. That loads the desktop’s browser, which shows the site properly.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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