The Internet For Dummies
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Chances are, a browser is already installed on your computer. If you use Internet Explorer, many think you’re better off installing either Firefox or Chrome, for speed and safety reasons. Fortunately, browser programs aren’t difficult to find and install, and Firefox, Chrome, and Safari are all free.

Even if you already have a browser, new versions come out every 20 minutes or so. Your browser is probably set to update itself automatically by checking in periodically with its home website. If your browser suggests that it needs to be updated, go ahead and follow its instructions to do so, because occasionally the new versions fix bugs or solve security issues.

How about Mac users?

Macs have always been famous for their slick, easy-to-use software, and the internet software is no exception. Macs come with a nice web browser named Safari. You use the Command key rather than Ctrl for the keyboard shortcuts, and nearly all the rest of the keys work the way they do in the other browsers.

Or, you can use Firefox or Chrome, which work quite nicely on a Mac, just as they do on Windows, with Command rather than Ctrl. You can use Safari to download and install Firefox or Chrome and then use it instead of or alongside Safari.

Getting the program

To get Firefox (for Windows or Mac or any of the other dozen computers it runs on), visit For Chrome, go to To get or upgrade Internet Explorer, go to Safari is available at Use your current browser to go to the page and then follow the instructions for finding and downloading the program. If you are using a smartphone or tablet, go to your app store (the App Store on Apple devices and the Play Store on Androids).

Running a new browser for the first time

To run your new browser, click the browser’s attractive new icon. If you use Windows, the default browser also appears at the top of the left column of the Start menu, too.

Your new browser will probably ask whether you want to import your settings — including your bookmarks and favorites — from the browser program you’ve been using. If you’ve already been using the web for a while and have built up a list of your favorite websites, take advantage of this opportunity to copy your list into the new browser so that you don’t have to search for your favorite sites all over again.

It will also ask whether to make it the “default” browser, that is, the one used when another program opens a web page. Browsers are very jealous, so if you don’t say yes, it’ll keep asking you each time you run it. Or if you do say yes, the next time you run any other browser, that browser, feeling jilted, will offer to make itself your default. Once you find a browser you like, make it your default and stick with it.

Apple’s iOS devices don’t let you change the default browser from Safari. If you use an Android device, you can change the default; open Settings, choose More, choose Application Manager, and scroll right to choose All. Then choose the current default browser and choose Clear Defaults. The next time you click a link in an email or other message, Android will ask what program to use; choose your favorite browser.

Troubleshooting Browser Problems

Occasionally, you may find yourself faced with a wonky looking browser. Most of the time, there’s an easy fix for your problem. If your browser looks odd, try these tricks:
  • If the web page looks garbled, click the Reload or Refresh icon (the circular arrow in the website address field at the top of the browser page) to load the page again.

  • If the whole top of the window is gone — you have no window title bar or menu bar — you’re in Full Screen mode. In Windows, press F11 to return to normal. On a Mac, hover your mouse at the top center of the screen until an icon appears in the upper right corner of the screen; click it to get your screen back to normal.

  • If the browser restarted and is telling you which fabulous new features it now has, it probably just downloaded an updated version of the program and had to restart itself to complete the installation. Read the message appreciatively and then close the tab or window.

  • If your browser is just acting weird, close all your browser windows, take a few deep breaths, and run your browser again. If the situation is ugly, try restarting the computer. (Save any unsaved work first.)

  • If your browser still looks strange, especially if it’s showing a lot of ads that you didn’t ask for, your computer is probably infected with spyware.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

John R. Levine is a recognized technology expert and consumer advocate who works against online fraud and email spam. Margaret Levine Young is a technology author who has written on topics ranging from the Internet to Windows to Access.

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