For this month’s Hidden Gem, I thought we might start with a little riddle. When is a browser not a browser? Because different browsers – the software you use to surf the web – are by no means all the same.
In the days when a browser was just for reading (and my weekly edition of Gentleman’s Tweed Weekly took four hours to download), speed and security didn’t matter too much.
But today, we bank online, research millions of sources with a click, share our lives on LinkedIn and Facebook, bid on bargains with seconds to spare and conduct transactions across the world. Suddenly, we realise that the browser is a crucial business tool – so it had better be fast, reliable and secure. Here are just a few of the tips and tricks which will ensure that Internet Explorer 9 remains lightning-fast for your business.
The Target: Internet Explorer 9; the current fully-featured incarnation of Microsoft’s web browsing software
Whereabouts: Included in Windows 7, and available completely free from Internet Explorer
Modus Operandi: Fast, efficient web browsing, with add-ons to personalise and simplify your experience.
All browsers will successfully display web pages (most of the time!). But business use demands heavy duty technology, so strap on your goggles because Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) is chock full of features which will make browsing smarter and faster than ever.
You can start your engines without doing anything because our first features happen under the bonnet. For starters, IE9 includes super-fast start-up and shut-down, so you’ll be ready to work in no time. And deep-down integration with Windows 7 means that, unlike other browsers, hardware acceleration (using your computer in the most efficient and productive way possible) to make text, graphics and video load and display quickly happens automatically.
Then, IE9 is equipped with bags of helpful tools to make browsing simpler by second-guessing some of the things you do most often. Open a new Tab, for example, and links to your most-used sites will appear automatically in the new Tab screen.
Plus, you can pin your favourite websites to the Taskbar for use anytime – drag a Tab or the title bar at the top of IE9 down to the Taskbar, and it will be kept there for next time.
Next up is the Address Bar which includes a multitude of time-saving bells and whistles.
Hit the little arrow on the right of the Address Bar next to the magnifying glass icon to have the Address Bar drop down. It will show a list of website suggestions, then your History, and then your Favourites – all in one list. If the lists in these categories are long, then “More” down-arrows will also appear. Finally, at the bottom of the list, you’ll also see any Accelerators and Add-Ons that you’ve installed – but more on them later!
As well as typing in addresses, the Address Bar is also a Search Bar. Either type in a search term and hit Return – or IE9 will also search directly as you type, giving you useful search results before you’ve even finished:
The best gem of all: Accelerators
But the most exciting feature of IE9 (they first appeared in IE8, but are more varied, prevalent and fast than ever) are Accelerators. These are add-ons made by Microsoft and lots of other big brands, to enhance your browsing experience.
This is probably best demonstrated with a little example. It’s entirely typical that when you see an address on a web page, you might want to see where it is on a map. In the past, you had to highlight the address, copy it, open a new Tab, go to your mapping site of choice, paste in the postcode and search.
With the mapping Accelerator, simply highlight the address, hit the blue arrow Accelerator icon which automatically appears (or right click) and select “Map with Bing”, one of the many Accelerators available, and one which comes pre-installed with IE9.
In fact, you don’t even have to click. Just hover over “Map with Bing”, and a map will automatically appear – you won’t even have to open a new web page.
For snippets of useful information without interrupting your browsing flow, Accelerators are a huge time-saver. There’s a raft of accelerators for all sorts of different functions here: Accelerators.
A Twitter search
News searches with the Guardian
Movie information from IMDB
Music from NME
And Travel from the RAC, National Rail Enquiries and Expedia
Under the magnifying glass...
Finally, there is a range of keyboard shortcuts which will make life even faster- learn just a couple and you’ll soon be browsing like a pro:
Alt+Home - Go straight to your homepage
Alt+C - Drop the Address Bar to view your favourites, feeds, and browsing history
Ctrl+J - Open the Download Manager to see downloaded files
Ctrl+D - Add the current page to your favourites
F11 - Switch to full screen view (and back again)
Ctrl+Shift+L - Search using text currently copied onto the Clipboard. Means you don’t have to paste into the Search bar to begin searching
Ctrl+N - Open a new Window
Ctrl+Shift+P - Open a new InPrivate Window (leaving no trace of your browsing history – ideal for researching birthday presents!)
Ctrl+Click - Opens a link as a new tab in the background
Ctrl+Shift+Click - Opens a link as a new tab in the foreground
Ctrl+Plus and Ctrl-Minus - Zoom in and out for easier viewing
The target exposed
Find out more:
Download Internet Explorer 9 Now!
Learn more tips and tricks with IE9
See what you're missing