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Surfing the World Wide Web at
Fort Smith Public Library


Using Netscape to surf the World Wide Web
The instructions below are tailored to the popular Netscape Navigator Web browser, which we use at Fort Smith Public Library. Although the tips are geared toward Navigator users, many of them still apply even if you are using another browser such as Mosaic or Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

What is the Internet? What is the World Wide Web?
Although many people believe the Internet and the World Wide Web are the same thing, that's not entirely true. The World Wide Web is only a part of the Internet, and it's a relatively new part. The Web has only been around for a few years, while the Internet has been around since the 1960s. These days, though, most people refer to them interchangeably.

The World Wide Web is a collection of millions of documents (which we call pages or web sites) that are linked together using something called hypertext. Hypertext allows web pages to link to each other very easily. Think of the World Wide Web as a huge book. You don't need to read from the beginning to the end of the book, but can skip around as much as you want to.

Links are represented by a Web address, which is also known as a URL, or Uniform Resource Locator. Web addresses start out with http://, which tells your computer how to connect with another computer. Then comes the computer name, for instance, www.yahoo.com. Finally, if there's a specific document that needs to be accessed, there's a slash followed by the path to that document and its name (usually ending in .htm or .html).

Linking to Other Pages
Hypertext allows a web site designer to easily create links from their Web page to other pages. The way these links are represented in your web browser varies depending on the setup of your browser, but most of the time links are represented by underlined text and/or text that's a different color from the rest of the text. Click on the text with the mouse, and you will follow the link to a different page.

Graphics can also serve as links between pages, so you can also try clicking on the graphics on a Web page. An easy way to decide whether a word or an object is a link is to watch what the cursor does when you move the mouse over the text and/or graphic. If the arrow pointer changes into a pointing hand instead of an arrow, then that text/graphic is a link to another page.

Another Way to Connect to Web Sites
Jumping from page to page using the links each page supplies is a somewhat inefficient (though entertaining) way to surf the Internet. If you know the address of the page you want to visit, however, you can type it in and go there directly. To do this, just click on the Open button at the top of the screen. You'll see a dialog box open up on the screen. Type the address in the box. (Note: Be careful how you type the Web address, since many Web sites are case sensitive.) When you've finished entering the address, hit the <Enter> key, and Netscape will bring up the site you have typed.

Quick Guide to the Button Bar
Back  The Back button allows you to go back to the last page you visited.
Forward  The Forward button allows you to move to the page you were on before you hit the Back button.
Home  The Home button takes you to your home page. You can set this page in the Options menu, under General Preferences.
Reload  Use the Reload button if you get a "Transfer Interrupted" message or if the page you're on has suddenly frozen. It reloads the page into Netscape.
Images  If you're using Netscape without automatically loading graphics, clicking this button will load the graphics for you.
Open  Use the Open button to open a new web page (see above for more information).
Print  Use the Print button to print the current page, if your computer is connected to a printer.
Find  Use the Find button to search for a word on the page to which you're currently connected.
Stop  Use the Stop button to interrupt the transfer of a page that's in progress.

The History List
Netscape is kind enough to keep a list of the sites you've visited during your session. To access that list, open the Go menu. At the bottom of the menu is a list of titles of Web sites. To visit one again, just click on its name and Netscape will take you to it.

Using Netscape's Bookmark Function
In your travels on the information superhighway, you'll probably come across many web sites that you want to revisit. The problem with Web addresses is that they are often long and hard to remember. If you come across an interesting site that you might want to return to, then you may want to add a bookmark to that site. But if you won't be using the same computer every time you access the Internet, you may also want to carry around a notebook or a sheet of paper on which you can write down your favorite Web addresses. The Web address for a site is listed in the Location window, right below the button bar.

Adding a bookmark to your favorite site is very easy. All you have to do is make sure you're at the site you want bookmarked. Then move the mouse up to the Bookmarks menu, click the left mouse button, and choose the first option (Add Bookmark). After that, any time you want to access that Web site you can just go back to the Bookmarks menu and click on the name of the site. Once you feel more comfortable using Netscape, or if your Bookmark file gets unwieldy, you can go back to the Bookmarks menu and choose Go to Bookmarks. Here, you can create folders and organize bookmarks into sections.

When you're having trouble getting connected
One things to keep in mind is that the Internet is not very stable. If you are having a connection problem, you may try again later and find that you have no trouble at all. Afternoons are when most people are surfing the Net, so you may find your access has slowed down considerably.

If you're getting an error message like Requested Document Not Found, or Not Found: The Requested Document Does Not Exist on This Server, there are a few things that might be going wrong. You're connecting to the Web site, but the site can't locate the specific document you're requesting. Here are two possible reasons, and how to solve this problem.

Finally, bear in mind that Netscape is a computer program that occasionally suffers a few glitches. Sometimes it freezes up and requires you to restart it; other times it loses its connection to the Internet, and restarting it usually fixes that problem too.

Getting Online Assistance with Netscape
If you'd like more information about using Netscape Navigator, go to Navigator's help menu. From there you can click on Handbook. This brings you to an online handbook about Navigator that's maintained by the Netscape Corporation. It includes tips on using Netscape, FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions), and other information you may be interested in.

Leaving Netscape
To quit Netscape, you can click once on the File menu, then move the mouse down to the "Exit" option and click on it. Or, you can double-click in the control box (the box with the minus sign in the upper left corner). Either way will return you to the Program Manager.


Feel free to stop by any of the branches of the Fort Smith Public Library to pick up a paper copy of this document!
This Page Last updated: 22 February 2002
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