Understanding The Basics

This tutorial will help you understand common terms and tools of the Internet.

The Internet is a network of computers spanning the globe. This communication structure is a system connecting people all around the world. A global Web of computers, the Internet allows individuals to communicate with each other. Often called the World Wide Web, the Internet provides a quick and easy exchange of information and is recognized as the central tool in this Information Age.

Internet Browser
An Internet browser is a software program that enables you to access and navigate the Internet by viewing Web pages on your computer. The label Internet Browser describes a software program that provides users with a graphical interface that allows them to connect to the Internet and “surf the Web.” Simply speaking, a browser is a software program that enables you to view Web pages on your computer.

Internet Explorer and Firefox are commonly used for viewing the Internet. Internet Explorer and Firefox share many of the same functions, and it is possible to use both. There are other browsers available as well. It does not take many users long to develop a preference and “adopt” a browser. You may have already made the choice. Which are you using?

Not only will you need to be familiar with your browser “brand,” but you should also know the version of the browser you are using. Frequently, new versions of browsers are made available to computer users; normally they are available to be downloaded from the Internet at no charge.

Web Site
A site or area on the World Wide Web that is accessed by its own Internet address is called a Web site. A Web site can be a collection of related Web pages. Each Web site contains a home page and may also contain additional pages. Each Web site is owned and updated by an individual, company, or organization. Because the Web is a dynamically moving and changing entity, many Web sites change on a daily or even hourly basis.

Web Page
A Web page can be explained as one area of the World Wide Web. Comparable to a page in a book, the basic unit of every Web site or document on the Web is a page. A Web page can be an article, an ordering page, or a single paragraph, and it is usually a combination of text and graphics.

Home Page
The term home page has a couple of meanings. It is the Web page that your browser uses when it starts, and also the Web page that appears every time you open your browser. Clicking the home page icon on your browser screen will take you to the specific page you have set as your browser’s home page.

Home page also refers to the main Web page out of a collection of Web pages. On each site, often you will see home page as a choice on a Menu Bar. Clicking on the word Home on a Web page will take you to the home or main page of that particular Web site.

Title, Menu & Tool Bars

Title Bar
Let’s take it from the top. The name of the Web site or title of the page you are viewing is found on the top left hand corner of your screen. Traditionally, this horizontal blue bar runs across the entire width of your screen. This blue bar that contains the name of the Web site is called the Title Bar. The Title Bar will serve as a trusty anchor, always letting your know where you are by sharing the title of the Web site you are visiting. This bar does not take you anywhere, but it always lets you know where you are.

Menu Bar
Underneath the Title Bar are other bars that can be used for moving around the Internet. If you are looking for quick and easy ways to navigate, the bars located at the top of your screen under the Title Bar will be helpful. One of the most useful bars is the Menu Bar. You will quickly appreciate each of the options found on the Menu Bar.

The Menu Bar is the horizontal band that contains commands and options that can be chosen. In Internet Explorer, these selections are File, Edit, View, Favorites, Tools, and Help.

Clicking on each of the items in the standard Menu Bar at the top of your page will drop down a menu that is a useful way to access the many features of the Internet Explorer program. The last menu item is the Help item. You will be surprised and relieved how often you will be able to click Help and find the answers you need.

The Menu Bar is a very useful tool when trying to make your way around a Web site. Because the Menu Bar offers so many helpful functions, the quicker you master File, Edit, View, Favorites, Tools, and Help, the better. It does not take long to learn the purpose of each of these menu items that help you move around the Internet.

Address Bar
Because the Address Bar offers a unique method of navigating the Web, it will be explained in greater detail a little later in this lesson.

Tool Bar
As its name implies, this is the area where a lot of work gets done. The Tool Bar is much like the Menu Bar stretching from left to right across the top of your screen just under the Address Bar. Because the Tool Bar is the workhorse of bars, it is larger and contains many useful icons divided into three areas. Each of these icons has a text description of its function under the icon itself. If you do not see the text description, hold your cursor over the icon, and the function of the icon will appear. Either way, it will not take you long to associate each function with its picture. Let’s become familiar with the first area which contains five icons. The remainder of the icons on the Tool Bar will be explained in later lessons.

The first icon on the Tool Bar is the Back Icon. You will be surprised how often you will want to return to a Web page or Web site you enjoyed earlier.

How about another direction change? Ready to return to the Web page you were viewing before you backtracked with the Back arrow? Yes, there is a tool for that. The Forward icon can return you to square one by revisiting each page successively.

Let’s review. How would you find a page that you have just visited? To return to the last page you viewed, simply click the Back arrow icon on the toolbar.

If you want to view one of the last nine pages you visited in this session, just click that small black down arrow located to the side of the Back or Forward icon. You will see a list of the sites you have visited previously. Then just click the page you want from the list.

Stop and Refresh Icons
It will not take you long to appreciate two other icons found on the Tool Bar. The Stop icon is located to the right of the Back and Forward arrows. Clicking the Stop icon will stop the page you have selected from downloading.

This icon is especially useful. Click the Stop icon if a page is taking too long to download. What if you changed your mind and do not want to visit a page? Just click this icon. Occasionally you find that you have clicked on a wrong link. Again, the Stop icon to the rescue.

The next icon is not quite as intuitive as the old familiar Stop icon. It is the Refresh icon. Refresh makes sure you are viewing the latest version of the current Web page. Remember one of the unique characteristics of the Internet is that it is dynamic and fluid. Information is continuously being added, and Web pages are constantly changing. It might be important to you that you are viewing the very latest information. For that reason, you have a Refresh icon. Just click the Refresh icon and your browser will reload the latest version of the page you are viewing.

Home Page Icon
In reference to this icon, home page is the Web page that your browser uses when it starts, the Web page that appears every time you open your browser. Clicking the home page icon found on the Tool Bar will take you to the specific page you have set as your browser’s home page.

Website Addresses & The Address Bar

Don’t be afraid of getting lost or overwhelmed on the mammoth Information Highway. There is an easy way to know where you are at all times. One way to keep track of where you are on the Web, especially if you have been moving around by links, is to check out the Address Box. This box gives you the location or address of the current page you are viewing.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
That unusual word at the top of the page is what is known as the locator box or address box of a Web page. Each Web page has a unique address called a Uniform Resource Locator or URL. The URL (pronounced U-R-L) is the specific address of a Web page.

There is a special system for addressing Internet sites. The URL or Web address is typically composed of four parts:

  • A protocol name (a protocol is a set of rules and standards that enable computers to exchange information)
  • The location of the site
  • The name of the organization that maintains the site
  • A suffix that identifies the kind of organization it is

For example, the address http://www.basicsbee.com is made up of the following areas:

  • http://
    This Web server uses Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). This is the most common protocol on the Internet.
  • www
    This site is on the World Wide Web.
  • basicsbee
    The Web server is at basicsbee.
  • .com
    This is a common extension.

Some common extensions are:

  • .com (commercial)
  • .edu (educational institution)
  • .gov (government)
  • .mil (military)
  • .net (network)
  • .org (organization)

You might also see foreign addresses that add a country code as the last several digits of the address, such as:

  • .au (Australia)
  • .ca (Canada)
  • .fr (France)
  • .it (Italy)
  • .us (United States of America)

Address Bar
The Address Bar is an excellent tool that can be used for navigating the Web. If you know the address of a page you want to visit, type the URL in the Address Bar. Then press Enter on the keyboard or click on the word Go on the right side of the Address Bar.

The power of the computer really shines through with a feature called AutoComplete which is built into Internet Explorer. If you start typing a Web address that you have previously used, a list of matching addresses appears. The addresses of all the Web sites that you have visited are kept in the computer memory. Your browser will locate an address that you have previously typed in the Address Bar by searching for similar addresses trying to find a match. As you type each letter, the list is refined to match your typing. You can choose one of these addresses by simply moving your mouse over the name and clicking.