October 16, 2004

Stupid Browser Tricks

Okay, so they're not stupid -- but it got your attention, didn't it? It's October, so it's a good time to do more Trick or Treating. Here are some very simple web browser tricks I've found both helpful and time-saving over my years online:

1) Autocomplete your ".com" URL:

Instead of manually typing a full web site address such as http://www.lawtechguru.com, try this instead:

- Type lawtechguru
- Press CTRL-Enter.

In IE and Firefox, the web browser will automatically type the http://www. prefix and the .com suffix for you and take you to the site. This saves you 15 keystrokes for each web site address you type. Over time, it all adds up. It only works for .com domains, although some browsers will let you use other key combinations for ".net", ".org", etc. It's also a good reason to choose a domain name ending in ".com" when you set up a new web site.

Note: For CTRL-Enter to work in IE, the Autocomplete feature must be enabled in your browser settings. Do this by clicking Tools menu, Internet Options, Content tab, Autocomplete... button, and making sure the Web Addresses option is checked.

2) Quick, go the Address field in one easy step:

Without tabbing or lifting your hand to use the mouse:

- Press Alt-D. That's it. In IE, Mozilla, and Firefox, it will jump your cursor back up to the Address field and select all text.
- Whatever new text you type will replace the old text (and don't forget to use CTRL-Enter for ".com" addresses!).

3) Print a table or grid with all of its color shading in IE:

Ever print a web comparison table only to find it difficult to read? That's because the shading is in the background. Here's how to tell IE to print the background colors:

- In IE, click on Tools, Internet Options, and the dialog will appear.
- Click on the Advanced tab.
- Scroll down about 2/3 until you see the Printing section.
- Check the only option: Print background colors and images.
- Click OK.

Now go ahead and print your web table, and odds are that the table shading will print properly. (It all depends on how they were formatted, but this usually works for me.) Afterward, don't forget to go back and turn off this print option. Otherwise, other web pages with colored backgrounds will probably print with dark backgrounds, making the text difficult to read.

4) See more in fullscreen mode:

Don't have a nice, large 21-inch monitor? Temporarily get rid of all of your toolbars, status bars, etc., save for one bar at the top:

- Press F11, or
- Click on the Full Screen button on the standard button bar, or
- Click on View, Full Screen.

It's a toggle, so you can easily change it back by repeating the process or clicking on the Restore button in the top right corner. These methods work in many browsers.

5) Open Links in a New Window:

- In any open browser window: Shift-click on the hyperlink (hold down the Shift key when clicking). This tells the browser to open the link in a new browser window.
- Alternate method: Press CTRL-N to open a copy of the current web page in a new window. Then click on the link. Your original window is untouched and still present onscreen.

This is very handy when you want to keep your original browser window open for reference (e.g., your Google search results). In geek circles, this is also known as "spawning" a new browser window. It also works in a number of browsers that support tabbed browsing.

6) Mozilla Easter Egg:

Here's a bonus Treat after all the Tricks above. It's an oldie but a goodie, and it works in many Mozilla flavors (Mozilla, Firebird, Firefox, etc.):

- Go to the address bar (remember Tip #2?) and type this without any spaces: about:mozilla
- Press Enter or click on the Go button.

If you have both Mozilla and Firefox installed, try it in both as you'll get noticeably different results.

Topic(s):   Trick or Treat  |  Web Wizardry
Posted by Jeff Beard