Web guide
Web guide

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Free course

Web guide

1 How to use this course

1.1 Web browser basics

Welcome to this short guide to making effective use of the web.

Although we use Internet Explorer as an example, it doesn't matter which browser you use as all work in similar ways.

This course has been designed for you to dip into whenever you need help or guidance. You may also like to check out a related website, PC4Study, which gives help and advice on using a computer for OU study.

A web browser, shown in the picture below, is the software that you use to view the web.

The browser

The image shows a screen graph of the Microsoft Internet Explorer toolbar. The position of the followoing functions are highlighted: from the standard buttons toolbar the back, forward, stop, refresh and home buttons are labelled. The address bar and associated 'Go' button are also labelled.
Figure 1 Toolbar on a web browser

Back and forward

Your browser will remember the pages that you have viewed. Use the Back and Forward buttons to move between recent pages.


Cancels a page request – particularly useful if a page is taking a long time to load.

Refresh or reload

Occasionally a page doesn't load completely and some parts are missing. Sometimes you want the latest version of a page that is constantly updated. In either case, this button reloads the page.


Takes you to your ‘home page’. This is the page that loads first when you start your browser.

Address bar

The area where you type a web address. You do not need to enter the ‘http://’ part as the browser will automatically include this. Make sure you include the ‘http://www.’ part of the address though.

Go button

Once you have typed the address, use Go and your chosen web page will be loaded. Alternatively, press Enter on your keyboard.

Scroll bar

The scroll bar appears when a web page is longer than the screen. Use the scroll bar to move up and down within a web page. Either drag the box along the bar or click the arrow on the top or bottom of the bar. If your mouse has a finger wheel you can also use this to move up and down the page. There may also be a scroll bar to help you view pages that are wider than the screen.

The image shows a screen grab of a web page which exceeds the size of the window. The right hand scroll bar is labelled 'Scroll bar to move page content up and down'. The bottom scroll bar is labelled 'Scroll bar to move page content left and right'.
Figure 2 Scroll bars

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