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Using the Internet

Using the Internet Finding resources on the Internet can sometimes be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Here are some tips for using search engines, answers to frequently asked questions, and general information for successful Internet exploration. Click on a topic below to begin.

Maneuvering Through Web Sites
Using Search Engines
Keeping Track of Where You've Been
Plug-Ins


Maneuvering Through Web Sites

There are several different ways to get to specific Web sites and navigate through the World Wide Web. The first way to get to a Web site is to type its address in the appropriate box in your browser. This address is called a URL, or Uniform Resource Locator. It usually starts with http:// followed by an address like www.yahoo.com or www.ed.gov. An entire URL, then, would look like http://www.yahoo.com or http://www.ed.gov. When you type in a URL and press Return, your Web browser will display the specified Web site. Another way to move around through sites on the Internet is to use hot links. Hot links are electronic cross-references; they are specially designated words or images that, when selected, will take your Web browser to a new Web site or to a different page of the current site. Links appear in almost every Web site. By using them, you can quickly and easily move to new relevant destinations on the Internet. They often appear as highlighted or underlined words or phrases. As you travel through the Internet and follow links to various new sites, you can retrace your steps if you want to return to a site. Use the "Back" and "Forward" buttons on your Web browser's toolbar to page through the sites you've visited.

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Using Search Engines

If you don't know the address of a certain Web site, or want to find a list of sites relevant to a certain topic, you can use a search engine. A search engine is like a card catalog for all the Web sites on the Internet. Different companies have developed different search engines, such as Google and Yahoo. Each search engine offers different features, but they all basically work the same way. To use a search engine, you must get to its Web site. Type the address of the search engine into your Web browser. (All the search engine's addresses are similar and easy to remember; they are all in the same format: http://www.google.com, http://www.yahoo.com, etc.) At the search engine's Web site, type in a specific topic (like American History) and click the "Search" or "Find" button on the screen. A list of links will then appear in order of their relevancy. Click on a link to be transported to its Web site. If you don't find what you are looking for using one search engine, you may be able to find it with one of the others.

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Keeping Track of Where You've Been

Sometimes you'll find it impossible to keep track of where you've been or what your favorite sites are. As already described, you can use your browser's "Back" and "Forward" buttons to page through the sites you've visited. Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer also have a tool called the Go menu, which lists the recent sites you've been to. Pull down the menu (which will be in the toolbar or under a triangle to the right of the "Back" button) and highlight the address you want to revisit. With the Go menu, you do not have to page through every visited site consecutively. If you need to recall a site you have visited in a previous session, or if you want to verify a student's work, you can open the History folder. This displays a broad history of Web site searches. Finally, if you find a site that you know you will want to revisit, you can bookmark it. When you are at your selected Web site, select "Bookmark(s)" or "Favorites" on the command toolbar to add the site. (The name of the menu this command is in varies depending on which Web browser you're using; it may be "Bookmarks," or "Favorites" or something similar.) This will save the site's address and title in a list of your favorite sites. You can also change the title by which the site is saved on your computer. In the future, you can move directly to a bookmarked site by selecting it from your list of bookmarks.

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Plug-ins

As you explore various Web sites, you may be asked to download certain plug-ins. Plug-ins, also known as "helper applications," are software programs that permit access to certain Web sites or allow you to download and use specific types of files. Often, these are multimedia files, which, for example, play sounds (such as files whose names end with .wav or .ra) or show movies (such as files ending with .avi, .mov, or .mpeg). Plug-ins are usually free. Check with your network administrator or Internet Service Provider about plug-ins that may already exist on your computer's hard drive.

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