Elderly Computer Users – Jargon Buster #5 -What is a Browser?


I get a lot of queststions from senior and elderly computer users about browsers.  So what is a browser?

A browser is a computer program that you use to view web pages on the Internet.   A web browser displays and allows you to interact with a web page.  Browsers know how to read web pages and  properly display images, formatted text, and links to other pages.

Below are some of the common web browsers you can use:

  • Internet Explorer – This web browser is bundled with Windows.
  • Safari –  The browser bundled with Apple Mac’s and iPhones, and iPods.
  • Chrome – Free browser from Google for use with either Windows or Apple Macintosh personal computers.
  • FireFox – Another free browser for use with either Windows or Apple Macintosh personal computers.

Browser Basics

Anatomy of a Browser

Browsers perform a pretty simple function, yet they are complex.  There many pieces to a browser.  Below we highlight some of the most commonly used features.

Anatomy of a Browser Anatomy of a Browser
  1. Back Button - This is used to move the previously viewed page.  This is useful when you want to “go back” to the last page you viewed.   I use this frequently when I click on  a link and discover the link went to a page I didn’t want to view.
  2. Forward Button – This button is useful once you have pressed the back button.  Once you have gone back to a previous page, you can use the forward button to continue to move to the last page read.
  3. Address Bar – This displays the address (URL)  of the currently displayed page.  You can also type in a web address to directly navigate to that site (for example:  www.easycomputeracademy.com is an exellent example to try.)
  4. Refresh Page – Click on the refresh button to force the browser to get a fresh copy of the page.  This is useful when you want to obtain updated content, such as news headlines; it is also useful when you feel like the page has “frozen”.
  5. Current Page – Many browsers allow you to view more than one page at a time.  Each page is displayed in its own tab.  The tabs are analogous to tabs in a binder.
  6. Create New Page Tab – Click on this to create a new tab so you can display more than one page.
  7. Home Page – Click on this to navigate back to your home page.
  8. Favorites – Click to access your saved bookmarks.  Favorites are sometime referred to as bookmarks, and just like bookmarks in a book, allow you to save and directly jump to an exact page.
  9. Settings - Click on this to access your browser settings.  For most users, you’ll won’t have to fiddle with these;  however, a common reason to access them is to change your home page.

How to Use a Browser

Here are some quick tips to get you started with using a browser.

Locating a Web Page

To go directly  to a web site simply type in the web address, such as www.ebay.com, in the Address Bar (3) and press Enter.
On newer browsers you can also type a search phrase directly into the address bar and see results.

You can also access a page using bookmarks.  Bookmarks are explained within the following section “Favorites.”

Navigating on a Page

You can use the browser’s scroll bars to move up and down the page.  If you like the keyboard, you can use the cursor keys (arrows) or PgUp (Page Up) and PgDn (Page Down) to quickly move up and down the web page.

If you wish to follow a link (How do you know if something is a link?  It is usually text in a different color- often blue- and often underlined.) to another page, simply hover the mouse cursor over the link and click.

Once you are on the new page, you can move to the previous back by pressing the Back Button (1), then pressing the Forward Button (2) moves you forward once again.

Click on the Home Page (7) button to move back to your home page.  This is handy, as your home page is usually a search engine.  Of course you can change your home page to suit your own needs.


If frequently visit a page, consider creating a bookmark.  Bookmarks or favorites provide a handy means to directly access web pages.

Adding a Favorite Adding a Favorite

To create a favorite:

1.  Navigate to the desired website.  In this example, I typed www.ebay.com into the Address Bar (1) and pressed Enter.

2.  Click on the Favorites (2) button.

3.  Within the favorites windows, click on the Add to favorites button.

Add A Favorite Dialogue Add A Favorite Dialogue

4.  When Add a Favorite screen pops-up, click Add.  The pop-up will close and your favorite will be saved.

After successfully completing these steps, you’ll see your newly added favorites within this list.

To use a favorite:

1.  Click on the Favorites (2) button.

2.  Hover over the desired favorite listing and click the mouse.

3.  You can close the favorites window by clicking on the  slider button.

Selecting A Favorite


To learn more about browsers, check out the What is a browser post I found at Google; there you’ll find a great one minute video explaining browsers.  If you would like help on a specific browser, please feel free to ask us.

As always, if you have a question write a comment and we will answer it.  Don’t forget to Sign up for our newsletter to receive regular updates and tips.

Thanks for dropping by.


Previous post:

Next post: