Looking for web surfing tips
March 10, 2004 9:49 AM   Subscribe

The answers in a thread earlier today got me thinking, can anyone recommend any neat tricks (or sites which list neat tricks) that can make one's surfing more pleasurable. Either by enabling simple features or otherwise, such as adding simple and trustable downloads. (Obviously I'm not an IT bod.)

I know this is a bit of a general question but the thing with applications is you just don't know what little things they might be capable of unless you trip over them or get pointed there (or read the instructions I suppose, but that's being silly).
posted by biffa to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
The neatest trick of all is to use the Opera webbrowser. It has a far, far better UI than anything else out there. I swear, it cuts my browsing time by more than half.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:24 AM on March 10, 2004

Firefox + Tabbrowser Extensions.

Hell, Firefox + lots of extensions.

For Mac, Safari + PithHelmet + Saft, but keep an eye on OmniWeb.
posted by kindall at 10:59 AM on March 10, 2004

IE + google bar + having many browsers (3-20, depending) open at once + button which goes to custom favorites page + practice.
posted by callmejay at 11:59 AM on March 10, 2004

five fresh fish is spot on with that advice. opera makes everything so easy/quick, you can't even describe it as just browsing anymore... it's more like having sex with the internet.
posted by lotsofno at 1:43 PM on March 10, 2004

Really can't emphasize Opera enough. It takes a bit of getting used to because it is not an average browser.

It is, in every way, a browser meant to let you get your work done, and not get in your way of that objective.

Give it an honest try for a month, and you'll never go back.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:49 PM on March 10, 2004

Another strong recommendation for Opera. But it isn't really like having sex with the internet, unless there's something in the preferences that I have set wrong.
posted by TimeFactor at 3:14 PM on March 10, 2004

Huh. I've tried Opera over and over again, and never like it enough to stay. And I know it used to have enough CSS issues that a "be nice to opera" rule had to be employed.

Tabs are where it's at. Omniweb 5 is still in beta, but I haven't seen so much innovation in a browser in years. Something to keep an eye on, if you're in OSX.
posted by jragon at 4:01 PM on March 10, 2004

Try Avant Browser -- free, small, tabbed, pop-up blocker, etc. I tried it months ago and can not even fathom using another browser. Good luck.
posted by davidmsc at 4:33 PM on March 10, 2004

I prefer MyIE2 over Avant as an IE renderer-wrapper, but each to his own in these matters.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:07 PM on March 10, 2004

Another Vote for trying out FireFox
posted by Mick at 9:27 PM on March 10, 2004

No one ever appreciates the genius of this, but here goes:

If you're using IE- and possibly other browsers, tho' the key combinations might not be the same- and have a lot of Favorites folders, you can do what I do- I like to go all 'Dewey Decimal' on the Favorites!!

Problem: Too many favorites to navigate easily, lots of clicking and mousing around as you check your favorite sites each morning, etc.

Solution: Keyboard shortcuts!

Combine one part Alt+A to open the Favorites dropdown menu in IE, and one part of the behavior in IE of automatically selecting a folder by typing its first character (and opening it if its the only one), you can start organizing your Favorites folders for incredibly quick access.

For example, if you have several favorites subfolders, like "Sports", "Financial", and "Goat Porn", you can actually type Alt+A, which opens the Favorites menu, then F, which highlights the first item that begins with F. If Financial is the only folder or link in the Favorites at that level that begins with the letter F, it will open it (either going to the page itself, or expanding that subfolder).

Now, uniqueness of letters gets tricky- so I take it the next step, and put a number before every folder and key link, in natural categories. For example, let's say your favorites folder is organized kind of like this:

   3_Baseball Musings
   3_The Sideshow
   1_The Onion
   2_ Homestar Runner
   2_Rebecca's Pocket
   3_ Mighty Girl


If you try physically typing Alt-A on your keyboard, then hitting letters or numbers that begin the names of folders and links in your Favorites, you'll find that it's incredibly quick to do it with one fluid hand motion- you can quickly launch and switch between saved links with terrific speed.

And once you get used to it, you've invented your own sorting method based on how you group your sites- you might have a group of Cooking related sites, and categorize that as 3. In the above example, you can group your favorite daily sites to visit first thing in the morning, and quickly cycle through each one by typing alt+a+1, then 2, as a fluid motion, and MeFi is displayed. As you finish each site, you just alt+A+1+2, then alt+a+1+3, etc. While the Favorites folder flashes on the screen, you can just be confident that if you hit alt+a 1 2 that it'll highlight the unique 2nd link under the Daily folder, and go right to the page (because when you hit 2, IE was intelligent enough to know that you couldn't have meant any other site- it's the only link in that folder that begins with 2!).

As you're more familiar, and remember that ESPN MLB is always your top site, you can start to associate it with 21, so that alt+a+2+1, which can quickly be typed out direclty to get you to the desired page. At work, this is great for the many different important sites I may need to visit to view various types of information as well, and knowing that some monitoring pages are at 1,1, or 1,3, or 1,4, etc. means I can get to the page immediately, with no time spent clicking around my favorites folder.

The only limitation is that the first character has to be unique at that level- so a folder 15_Goat Financials isn't really usable, as it won't distinguish between that and 1_Daily. However, letters and numbers are both workable, so you can usually readily get ~10 branches per level, and there's no real limit to how deep you can go (just means that many more characters to type- I tend to not go more than 2 levels deep, and to keep it to 1-6 per level, so it's all a one-handed motion (no jokes, please :) ))

Anyway, you just have to try it, try typing the characters to see how quick the single-hand motion is, try organizing a couple of favorite folders, and see how danged easy this makes browsing...

I thunk'd it up- a hincandenza original- and I think it's absolutely brilliant, and no one ever really appreciates its briliance, because they don't try it out to feel how much faster it is.

I'd love to hear if someone else tries this, and if they find it helps things out in terms of faster browsing.
posted by hincandenza at 12:38 AM on March 11, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks all, especially hincandenza, if I get the time I may well try it out as I do use a lot of bookmarks and they have become unruly this year.
posted by biffa at 2:52 AM on March 11, 2004


In Opera you can sort your folders any which way you want. No need for numbering, just drag and drop 'em.

Set your homepage to whatever you want. For me, it's my laptop wiki diary.

When Opera starts, it opens the homepage of course. Ctrl+W closes the page. Focus reverts to the sidebar. The first entry on my sidebar is News.

I tap Enter. It opens the half-dozen newspapers I graze on each morning, each to its own tab. The arrow keys let me scroll the page. For each article I want to read, I hold down Ctrl+Shift and tap the touchpad; the article opens in the background. I can configure Opera to open them immediately behind the current page, or to toss them to the very back of the tabs list.

I use Ctrl+W to close the pages as I finish with them. When I've read all the headlines and any articles that interested me, focus goes back to the sidebar.

I arrow-down and tap Enter again, this time to check for software updates on a half-dozen essential applications. Rinse and repeat for my geeknews, once-a-day blogs, comic strips, normal blogs, and stockmarket forums.

In essence, I don't have to eff around with mice and right-clicks and bullshit to accomplish my morning tasks. Opera gets the hell out of my way, letting me concentrate on browsing as fast as possible.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:56 AM on March 11, 2004

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