TechBasics: Web Browsing 101

drawing of generic website

You can access online content, but are you using your web browser to its fullest extent? These five tips may help you be more efficient (and less annoyed) with browsing. All screenshots are from Firefox, but you can Google the instructions for any other browser or use the help feature in your browser menu.

1. Use the address bar more efficiently. There is no need to type https:// or www. before the URL. You can also enter search terms in that bar instead of the standard search box.

browser address bar

2. Take advantage of bookmarks and the bookmark toolbar to access favorite sites quickly. It allows you to click and launch important sites without searching or typing. Often you can copy a web address and drag it directly to your toolbar.

browser bookmarks menu

3. Know whether to open a new tab or new window. When in doubt, a new tab will do. Opening and closing multiple windows leads to more confusion than clicking tabs across a single open browser window. The new tab shortcut is usually a + symbol next to the latest tab. Note: separate windows are useful if you need to resize two panes to view them side-by-side.

4. Ditch your mouse when possible. You can hit enter or tab to move between fields in a form instead of clicking into a new box with your mouse. There are quick keys that make browsing more efficient. Some examples include Control/Command + to make the font larger, Control/Command F will open a find box to search words on a page and Control/Command W will close a window.

5. Use your mouse to access common actions instead of going to the menu. For example, if you want to copy a URL, hover over the link and right click. This will open a menu of functions such as copy URL, save as a bookmark and open in a new window or tab.

drop down menu from right click
Elise Mueller, Ph.D.

Author: Elise Mueller, Ph.D.

Elise Mueller is the consultant for the language departments at Duke. Her goal is to support their teaching through sound pedagogy and educational technologies. She leads fellowships and workshops on blended teaching, student reflection, portfolios and course design. She is currently grappling with the meaning of a liberal arts education in the 21st century.