Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Thoughts on the humble web browser

Web browsers tend to reliably deliver the Internet most of the time.

But sometimes people experience problems surfing the web. If other Internet-reliant applications, like Skype or a cloud backup program, work just fine, that may be a hint that the web browser may be wonky.

Here’s a short list of simple steps to try when you need to resolve a browser issue.

Restart the browser

Sometimes all it takes is quitting the browser and starting it up again.

Shut down tabs that seem to hang

If you work with multiple tabs in your browser window, only one tab may be at fault. That may mean the website your computer is trying to interact with is having problems. Shut down that one tab and, if need be, go back to it later.

Only in rare circumstances should you click links sent to you in emails. Those links can lead to websites that are programmed to harm your computer in some way. If you have any doubt about the worth of a given link emailed to you, delete the email without clicking the link.

Update your browser

Sometimes an out-of-date browser will run into issues that won’t bother an updated browser. Find the “check for updates” option on your browser (commonly in the “help” menu for Windows versions and the “(browser name)” menu for Mac versions and run the update checker. If an update is available, run it.

On Macs, some update checkers are found in the “About (browser name)” menu item.

Update your operating system

Keep your operating system, whether Windows or Mac, up to date. You can also set your computer to automatically update its operating system.

Note: I’ve seen a few Windows computers, especially Windows XP, running unregistered copies of Windows. You’ll know that’s the case with your XP machine if you regularly seen messages talking about things like “Windows Genuine Advantage.” In that case, you’ll need to first register your version of Windows (and hand Microsoft some cash) before you can update the operating system. The alternative is to run a Windows computer that is susceptible to untold thousands of security problems, and probably long since infected.

Install multiple browsers

I have four browsers on my Mac, and I use them to test a website if Safari, my current default, doesn’t seem to handle that website properly. Whether you run a Windows or Mac computer, you ought to install the following four browsers, just in case:

  • Firefox
  • Google Chrome
  • Opera
  • Safari

Windows users will already have Internet Explorer installed on their computers.

Google Chrome

Although I currently browse mostly using Safari, I also like Chrome. The following video shows Chrome being used on a Mac, but it has all the same features on the Windows version.

 

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