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Chapter 4. Tips And Techniques > Customizing Your Web Browser

Customizing Your Web Browser

By default, Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), is set up so that whenever you go online, you'll be taken automatically to the MSN home page at www.msn.com (Figure 4.7).

Figure 4.7. This is the MSN home page, the place that Microsoft hopes Internet Explorer users will begin all their online sessions.


While MSN Search does a good job, you may prefer to use a different search engine for most of your searches. If this is the case, you have several options.

First, you can customize your Web browser so that the search engine you use most often comes up automatically when you sign on. Use this method if your favorite search engine is also a portal site. This way, you can get to it quickly at any time by clicking your browser's Home button (Figure 4.8).

Figure 4.8. Once you've customized your Web browser with your preferred home page location, clicking the Home button will take you there instantly.


However, there are better, faster ways to reach your favorite search engines. Most search engines have small applications you can install that add a new toolbar to Internet Explorer (Figure 4.9). This makes your favorite search engine easy to reach from any Web page. Most search bars also include other useful tools, including links to popular features provided by the sites.

Figure 4.9. Install a search toolbar for your favorite search engine.


Or you may prefer to use Internet Explorer's Search Explorer bar.

To customize the default settings for IE searches

1.
Connect to the Internet, if you are not already connected.

Open the IE Search Explorer bar by clicking the Search button on the Standard toolbar (Figure 4.10).

Figure 4.10. Use Internet Explorer's Search Explorer bar. Select the type of search you need and enter the keywords.


The Search Explorer bar opens (Figure 4.11). The default search engine for the Search Explorer bar is MSN Search.

Figure 4.11. Click the Search button in IE to open the Search Explorer bar.


2.
Choose Customize to open the Customize Search Settings dialog box (Figure 4.12). Then do one of the following:

  • To set a different search engine for each search type listed in the dialog box, select Use Search Assistant; then select the search engine you want to use for each type of search.

  • To set the same search engine as the default for all searches, select Use One Search Service (Figure 4.13); the Search Explorer bar displays the search engine of your choice (Figure 4.14).

    Figure 4.13. Select your favorite search engine if you prefer to use one search engine as the default.


    Figure 4.14. When one search engine is selected, the site's search page appears in the Search Explorer bar.


  • To use the animated Search Companion, select Use Search Companion (Figure 4.15).

    Figure 4.15. An animated search companion canhelp you with your search.


Figure 4.12. Use the Customize Search Settings dialog box to choose the default engine to use for your searches.


Using IE's address bar search

Fast and easy access to your favorite search engine doesn't require you to set your home page to a search engine or use toolbars or the Search Explorer bar. Just enter your keywords in the browser's address bar. Enter a question mark (?) or type go or find and then type your keywords and press Enter (Figure 4.16).

Figure 4.16. Search from IE's address bar using your default search engine settings.


To change the search engine IE uses for address bar searches

1.
Connect to the Internet; open the IE Search Explorer bar by clicking the Search button on the Standard toolbar (Figure 4.10).

2.
Choose Customize (Figure 4.11) to open the Customize Search Settings dialog box (Figure 4.12).

3.
Click the Autosearch Settings button to open the Customize Autosearch Settings dialog box (Figure 4.17). Then choose the search provider you want to use.

Figure 4.17. Select from several search engines or disable address bar searching using the Customize Autosearch Settings dialog box.


4.
In the When Searching field, do one of the following:

  • To disable address bar searching, choose Do Not Search from the Address Bar.

  • To use the address bar search and display results in the browser window, choose Just Display Results in Main Window.

When you choose MSN as your search engine, you have two additional options in the When Searching field:

  • To display previews of the top sites, choose Just Go to the Most Likely Site.

  • To display the results in the Search Explorer bar and preview the most likely sites in the browser window, choose Display Results, and Go to the Most Likely Site.

✓ Tips

  • You can also change Autosearch settings using the Internet Options dialog box. On the IE toolbar, choose Tools > Internet Options and click the Advanced tab. Scroll down until you find the address bar options near the bottom of the tab (Figure 4.18). Make selections to control the way results are displayed or to disable address bar searching.

    Figure 4.18. Customize additional search settings in the Internet Options dialog box.

  • Windows power users can create custom address bar searches, triggered by typing a search prefix and then your keywords. You can use any search engine that returns the URL in the address bar. You'll need to use the TweakUI power toy to create the search—use an address bar search for tweakui power toy to find it. After install ing it, navigate to Internet Explorer and select Search (Figure 4.19); then click Create to open the Search Prefix dialog box. Enter a search prefix and paste the search URL in the fields, replacing the search keyword with %s (Figure 4.20). Now you can perform your custom searches by typing just the prefix plus your keywords in the address bar.

    Figure 4.19. Use TweakUI to create address bar searches for many of your favorite sites.

    Figure 4.20. Enter a prefix and the search URL, replacing the search string with %s.


Changing your start page to your favorite search engine

If you'd like to customize your Web browser so that the home page is your favorite search engine, here are the steps to follow.

To make your favorite search engine your start page

  • Internet Explorer 5 and up (Windows users): Choose Tools and then choose Internet Options. In the home page Address box, type the complete Web address (including http://) of your favorite search engine. Then click OK.

    Note: If you are running an older version of IE for Windows, choose View (instead of Tools) to change your default home page.

  • Internet Explorer 5 (Mac users): Choose Edit and then choose Preferences. Then click Browser Display in the list on the left side of the screen. In the home page Address box, type the complete Web address (including http://) of your favorite search engine and click OK.

    Note: If you're running IE 4.5 for Mac, the link to choose from the list on the Preferences page is Home/Search (instead of Browser Display).

    Complete Web Addresses for Popular Search Engines


  • Netscape 4 and up (Windows and Mac users): Click Edit and then choose Preferences. On the Navigator page, make sure the Home Page radio button is selected. In the Location box, type the complete Web address (including http://) of your favorite search engine. Then click OK.

    Once you've set your browser's default home page location as described here, that's the site that will greet you whenever you sign on. It's also the one you'll be taken to when you click your browser's Home button or select the menu option that tells the browser you want to “Go Home.”

To add other search engines to your Favorites or Bookmarks

  • With Internet Explorer, go to the search engine site, click Favorites, and then choose the option for adding a page to your Favorites.

    Or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+D (Windows) or Command+D (Mac).

  • With Netscape Navigator, go to the search engine site, click Bookmarks, and then choose Add Bookmark (if you're using Netscape 4) or Add Current Page (for Netscape 6).

    Or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+D (Windows) or Command+D (Mac).

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