Join Nick Brazzi for an in-depth discussion in this video Touring the interface, part of Up and Running with the Firefox Browser.
- The core functionality in Firefox, as with most web browsers, is pretty easy. You may already be familiar with the basics, especially considering most people watching this course are doing it in a web browser. But let's take a quick tour to make sure that we're on the same page. The rest of the course will build upon the basics that we see here. Now the main part of the Firefox window shows you the content of whatever webpage you are currently visiting. You're going to need to supply the address for a webpage or perform a search. But once you load what you're looking for, it will be here, in the main section of the window.
When you first open Firefox, unless you've changed some settings, you're probably going to see this Firefox start page. At the top of the window is where you find all of your controls. Going through the Firefox controls, let's start with the address bar, which is also known as the location bar. That's this big white box here and it says, "Search or enter address." To browse to and view a webpage, you need to provide the address or perform a search and you can type in that address or search term here in the address bar.
The Firefox start page is one exception where I don't see any address in the address bar. Let's navigate to a more typical page. To do that, all I need to do is click on the address bar, and then type in the address for a page I want to go to. I'll type in www.amazon.com. That's a pretty typical website. Now to be clear, when I say dot, I'm actually referring to the period key on my keyboard. So it's www.amazon.com. But everybody always says dots.
I'm going to hit return and it's going to load that page. When I'm looking at this page, I will see the address for that page up in the address bar. And I do want to mention the structure of this address. This is pretty typical, www, followed by some word, followed by .com. Now not every address will begin with www, but that is pretty typical. Usually there will be something here though and then it will be followed by a ., and then some descriptive word like amazon, and then it will end with .com or .org or .gov.
There will be some little extension at the end and it's not always three letters. There are some country codes for other countries in the world. So .co.uk is the extension for the United Kingdom. But generally this is the structure. Sometimes it's going to be longer. You'll see this structure and then you'll see a slash and then you'll see a whole bunch of other text after it and that's also normal. But the beginning of the address usually follows this structure. Let's take a look at another webpage. This time instead of clicking on the address bar, I want to use one of my favorite keyboard shortcuts.
On Windows that shortcut is ctrl + l and on Mac it's cmd + l. When I hit that keyboard shortcut, it selects whatever is in the address bar and I can just type over top of it. Let me go to another page. Now before I hit enter, I want to talk about what I typed in here. I did not start with www. If you're address does begin with www, you don't have to type that in. The computer will just assume that automatically so you can save yourself some time. Also, this does not end in .com, it ends in .org.
But still, that's the standard structure. So I'll hit return and it loads that page. Now if you don't know the address for your website or if you don't even know what website you want to visit, but you know the topic that you're interested in, you can perform a search. You can actually use the address bar to do a search or you can use the separate Search bar. Basically they are going to work the same in this context. I'm going to click on my address bar and instead of typing in an address, I'm going to type in a single word and then I'll hit return.
If you type in anything into the address bar that does not immediately conform to the structure of a website address, it will assume you are doing a search. Here are my search results. By default, Firefox uses the Yahoo search engine. If you want to use a different search engine, we'll be talking about that later in this chapter. But here are my search results and there are a lot of options. And this gives us an opportunity to talk about links which are really core to the browsing experience. If you're pointing your mouse at something in Firefox and you're mouse cursor changes from an arrow to a little hand with a pointing finger, that means this is a link.
It means I can click on it and it will take me to another page. Now before I click on this link, I want to point out that each of the links here in my search results has an address listed below it. So again, here is that typical structure. This one does not begin with www. Instead it begins with en, but it has that same structure, en.wikipedia.org, but then it's followed by a bunch of other stuff. I said before that's pretty typical. Here's one that ends in .co.uk and here's one that has a whole bunch of other text at the end of it.
But that's typically what an address is going to look like. Now that we've seen that, I'm going to click on one of these links and it will take me to that page. That's pretty standard when you are browsing the web. Now this link takes me to a site called Wikipedia. If you don't know about Wikipedia, it's a giant site online encyclopedia that can be edited or revised by any of the users. Now I want to clarify the difference between a site and a page. Wikipedia is a website and it has many pages that you might visit. Any page that you visit on the Wikipedia site will probably have an address that begins with en.wikipedia.org.
Amazon.com is a site with lots of individual pages. Pretty much anything you look at on the web is a page that is part of a larger site. Now here on this page, there are lots of links that of course I could click on. So I could click on this link for Radiocarbon dating and that takes me to another page which is an article about Radiocarbon dating and I can continue clicking on links and follow along on the path and find other pages. As you are browsing like this, if you ever want to go back to the previous page you were on, just look up in the address bar.
Right next to the address bar is an arrow pointing back. If I click on that back arrow, it takes me to the previous page. Now it's revealed a forward button. If I hit the forward button, it will take me forward on that timeline. But of course now the forward button goes away because I'm as far forward as I can go until I click on a new link. Like many things on your computer, if you have a two button mouse, you can right click on some things to get more options. I can right click anywhere on the blank background of this webpage and I get this menu.
And inside of the menu is a back button. So that's a quicker way of getting to the previous page. Next to the address bar, you should see this circular arrow. This is the reload button. If I click on this, it will completely reload the page that I'm currently visiting. Usually you would hit this button if you think some information on this page has updated since you last loaded it. Now while a page is loading, that reload button changes to a stop button. Take a look at it as I click on a new link.
You can see it turns into an x. If I click on that x while the page is loading, it will stop it from loading and then if I wanted to continue loading, I can just hit the reload button and it will load it again. Finally, there are some other buttons along the top here, in this toolbar. These are things we're going to be talking about later in the course. Things like bookmarks and downloads and the home button. But I also want to point out the menu. That's the button on the far right. If I click on that, I get a whole bunch of options here. We're going to spend a lot of time going into the menu and then going into options, which is where you can change setting inside of Firefox.
But that's something we're going to be talking about a lot more very soon. Like I said, these are the basics, the bare essentials. If you walk away with only what you've seen here in this movie, you should be able to successfully use Firefox for most day to day activities. But of course, there's still much more to learn as we go through the rest of this course.
- Using tabs and bookmarks
- Downloading files
- Disabling the pop-up blocker
- Installing extensions, themes, and add-ons
- Managing the cache and cookies
- Saving passwords