Any Version
Press Ctrl-W to quickly close the Netscape Navigator browser window. Make sure you've saved or bookmarked the page you're on, however, because the browser window closes immediately.
Who needs menus when you can perform many Navigator functions right from the keyboard? To reload a page, simply press Ctrl-R.


Press Ctrl-B from the Navigator browser and the bookmark window opens immediately.


When you want to open a new Navigator window, press Ctrl-N. The new browser opens, while the old one minimizes.


If you have more than one browser window open at the same time, you can scroll through them. To do it, press Ctrl-Tab. Just remember to keep tabs on which browser you're in as you do this!


There are a few ways to add a bookmark, but the quickest way is to press Ctrl-D while you're at a Web site. The URL is added to your bookmark list immediately.


Want to go back a few steps in your Web browsing? Press Ctrl-H when you're in the Navigator browser. The History window box opens, showing your most recently visited sites.


If you want to stop a page from loading, press Esc for the quickest halt.


As with e-mail messages, downloading messages from newsgroups can eat up your hard drive space in a hurry. Remember that the Disk Space panel of the Preferences box contains several settings that can keep usage down to a manageable level. To access it, select Edit, Preferences, which opens the Preferences box; then select Advanced, Disk Space from the Category menu. This opens the Disk Space panel, where you can make adjustments as you see fit.


Using frames is a good way for the Web page designer to organize the content of the page, but they can be a little inconvenient sometimes. Here's a flexible way to play around with the frame size. Just point your cursor on the frame border. When it becomes a double-arrow icon, click and drag the border to move it left or right (or up and down, depending on the location of the frame).


Frames are sort of like pages within the page. You know how Navigator allows you to see source code for a page? Well, you can do the same thing with a single frame. Click once inside the frame and choose View, Frame Source from the Navigator menu. The frame's inner secrets are revealed.


You Windows users may know that you can view the contents of directory folders in the Navigator browser window, but you may not have known that you can actually drop a directory folder into the browser window and its contents will appear instantly. You can drag the folders out of Windows Explorer, for example, or just select Start, Run and click Browse. Browse through the directory folders until you see the one you want, then just click, drag, and drop it into the browser window. The folder immediately displays in directory format, and you can open files or other folders from here.


Navigator allows you to separate an image from the frame in which it resides. To get the image out of the frame and into a browser window of its very own, right-click the image and select View Image from the context menu. The image appears by itself in a new browser window. Just click Back to return to the frame.


Navigator has two ways for you to update the contents of a Web page. Select View, Refresh, and the page updates with information stored in your disk cache. But select View, Reload, and Navigator returns to the Web server for the most recent version of the document. The former is quicker but may not contain the latest information, while the converse is true for the latter.


Tired of going to the Address Book every time you want to send e-mail messages to your favorite correspondents? Create a bookmark list for your e-mail addresses. To do this, open the bookmark file and select Item, Insert Folder to open the Bookmark Properties box. Enter a name for the folder, such as "Address Book." Click OK, and the Address Book folder is added to the Bookmarks list. Now you need to add the e-mail addresses. Select the Address Book folder and then select Item, Insert Bookmark. In the Bookmark Properties box, enter a name for the bookmark. Now, in the URL field, enter the e-mail address preceded by mailto: (for example, Click OK to close the box, and then close the bookmark file. Now just click the appropriate bookmark when you want to send an e-mail message.


You Windows users may know you can view the contents of directory folders in the Navigator browser window; but you may not know that you can actually drop a directory folder into the browser window and its contents will appear instantly. You can drag the folders out of Windows Explorer, for example, or just select Start, Run and click Browse. Click through the directory folders until you see the one you want; then just click, drag, and drop it into the browser window. The folder immediately displays in directory format, and you can open files or other folders from here.


Communicator allows you to separate the image from the frame. To see an image out of its frame, right-click the image and select View Image from the context menu. The image will appear on its own in a new browser window. Just click Back to return to the frame.


Sometimes you come across an image on a Web page that you like so much you want to see it every day. If this happens to you, why not wallpaper your desktop with that great image? Right-click the image, then select Set As Wallpaper from the context menu. That's it--you've just redecorated your desktop.



The last tip told you how to put background colors and images into a mail message. If you want, you can use the same background for all new messages you create. To do this, check the option Save These Settings For New Pages in the Page Color and Properties box for the message. After you save and close the message, the background images and colors appear in every message you create.

COLOR SCHEME Communicator allows you to create very slick-looking messages with a variety of formatting options. For example, you can set colors or background images in the message. To do this, open a new message (click New Msg) composition window. From the menu, select Format, Page Color, Properties, which brings up the Colors And Background dialog box. Click Background, then choose the color you want. You can also select Use Image from the Background Image section, then choose the graphic file you want. Click OK and the background colors or images appear in your mail message.


Animations are cool, but they don't usually add much information to the page that you want to load. Add to this the fact that they can slow the loading process, and you begin to ask yourself if you really want those cute animations in the first place. Well, if you don't want them, you don't need to load them. If you access a Web site with unwanted animations, just select View, Stop Animations from the Communicator menu.


If you have your computer on a network, or if others can access it physically, you should protect Netscape access with a password. To give yourself a password, select Options, Security Preferences from the Netscape menu, which opens the Preferences box. Click the Passwords tab, then click the Set Password button, which opens the Enable Your Netscape Password box. Enter your password, confirm it, and click Finished. Back in the Passwords tab, set the interval that you want to go by before you are asked for the password, then click OK to save your settings.


The last tip explained how to turn off Java applets. In doing so, you probably also noticed that there's another option called Enable JavaScript. JavaScript is a language similar to Java, but it is simpler and includes more native security. JavaScript is generally used to create special-effect features in Web pages, rather than actual programs (a la Java). It's generally OK to leave this feature on (at least security-wise), unless you're just not interested in flashy Web graphics.


You don't have to start every Communicator session with the same old home page. In fact, you can set it up so that you start each new session with the page or site you accessed last in your most recent browsing session. To set this, select Edit, Preferences to open the Preferences dialog box, then click Last page visited in the Navigator Starts With section. Click OK to close the box and save your settings.


The last tip showed you how to put a frame in its own browser window. There's also a more flexible way to play around with the size of a frame. Just point your cursor on the frame border and, when the double-arrow icon appears, move it left or right (or up and down) to adjust the frame size.


Communicator allows you a few options for quoted text in mail or newsgroup messages. Quoted text is displayed by default as plain text followed by the right arrow symbol (>). If you want to change the way this text appears, select Edit, Preferences to open the Preferences dialog box. Select Mail & Groups, then set your options in the top section (where it says Plain quoted text beginning with ">" is displayed with:). You can set the text style, size, and color. When you're finished, click OK to close the box and save your changes.


Communicator allows you to choose particular display fonts for incoming data. To set the fonts, choose Edit, Preferences to open the Preferences dialog box, then select Appearance-Fonts from the menu tree. The default selection for most U.S.-based systems is the Western character set using Times New Roman and Courier New fonts. To change any of these, click the drop-down list and select a new style. You can do the same for the font size. The bottom three buttons in the window set your preference for Dynamic Fonts. This feature allows Communicator to download the appropriate display font, even if you don't currently have it on your system. It's usually best to keep Use Document-Specified Fonts, Including Dynamic Fonts selected. When you're finished, click OK to close the Preferences box and save your settings. Any changes will take effect the next time you start Communicator.


Communicator allows you to get pretty colorful with the Web page color display settings. Web pages usually have their own background and text colors defined, but not always. Communicator allows you to change the defaults. To re-colorize your pages, choose Edit, Preferences from the Communicator menu to open the Preferences box, then select Appearance-Colors. In the Colors option box, deselect the Use Windows Colors option. To change the background or text colors, click the color button beside each option (the defaults are gray), which opens the Color dialog box. Select a standard color from the palette, then click OK. If you want these colors to appear no matter what, check the Always Use My Colors, Overriding Document option. Click OK to save your color choices and close the Preferences box.


It's not uncommon for two or more people to use the same computer. Netscape Communicator allows multiple users to access Communicator from the same computer, but each user can set his or her own preferences, bookmarks, and so on. This is done by configuring different user profiles.
Communicator automatically creates a user profile the first time you start it, based on the responses you give to questions about your name and your e-mail address. To create additional user profiles, locate the Netscape Communicator folder, then double-click the Utilities folder. Next, double-click User Profile Manager, which opens the Profile Manager dialog box. Click New, and follow the wizards to create a new profile, which takes only a couple minutes. When finished, Communicator automatically starts under this new profile. The next time you start a new Communicator session, a dialog box will appear asking you to choose the profile Communicator should use.


The last tip showed you how to create user profiles that allow two or more users to access Communicator from the same computer. You might also consider creating multiple user profiles for yourself. This allows you to use Communicator with different sets of bookmarks, preferences, and the like. Just create the new profile from the Profile Manager, although you should make sure you fill in your actual name and e-mail address again, even if these are already in your original user profile.


Tired of going to the Message Center Address Book every time you want to send an e-mail message? Create a bookmark list for your address book. To do this, press Ctrl-B to open the bookmark file, then select the Toolbar Folder from the bookmarks list. Choose File, New Folder to open the Bookmark Properties box, then enter a name for the folder, such as "Address Book." Click OK, and your new Address Book folder is added to the Personal Toolbar. Now you need to add the e-mail addresses that will comprise the bookmark list. Right-click your new Address Book folder and select New Bookmark from the context menu. In the Bookmark Properties box, enter a name for the recipient, then enter the e-mail address preceded by "mailto:" in the URL field (for example, Click OK to close the box, then close the bookmark file. Now when you want to send an e-mail message, just click the Address Book button you added to the Personal Toolbar and select the appropriate entry!


Deleting a user profile is just as simple as creating one. Open the Utilities folder from the Netscape Communicator folder, then click the User Profile Manager. Select the profile you want to delete and click the Delete button. Remember, however, that while the profile is deleted, the files (bookmarks, etc.) remain. You'll have to delete those from the directory.


Java applets account for some interesting and useful Web applications, but some people still have questions about the security risks they pose. If you're concerned about Java applets compromising your computer's security, you can make sure that your Communicator browser doesn't run them. To do this, select Edit, Preferences to open the Preferences dialog box, then choose Advanced from the menu tree. Just uncheck the option Enable Java, click OK, and you're all set. No Java applet will play on your system.


Once you get your new discussion group messages, you might want to file some right away (whether you actually read them or not). Just click File from the Discussion Groups window menu and then select a file from the menu list. The message is filed immediately.


Many Web designers find frames to be a useful way of organizing a page, but sometimes you just want to see all the stuff in the frame without looking at everything else on your screen. To focus in on the frame alone, right-click inside the frame and select Open Frame in New Window from the context menu. There you go--now the frame fills the browser.


If you know the name of a newsgroup, you can access it directly from the Communicator browser. Just enter the newsgroup URL in the Netsite box, as you would any Web site URL. The only difference is that you preface the URL with "news://" plus the name of your news server, like this: news://


Rather than just minimizing the toolbars, Communicator allows you to hide each one entirely. From the menu select View, Hide [name] Toolbar. If you want the toolbar back, go back to the menu and select View, Show [name] Toolbar.


How do you know when you've got the whole Web page? With Communicator, one way is to keep your eye on the Netscape icon (the "N" in the menu toolbar). When you access a Web page--either by clicking a link or by entering the URL in the Netsite box--a shower of shooting stars begins in the Netscape icon. You know the entire page has downloaded when the star shower stops.


Ever get sick of dragging that mouse up to the Communicator menu whenever you want to issue a command? Well, you can open the menus without touching the mouse. Press Alt, then press the key corresponding to the underlined letter of the menu item you want to open. If a submenu item also has an underlined key letter, you can activate it the same way.


Netscape Communicator allows you some flexibility with your toolbar display. For example, you can minimize toolbars or restore them with a button click. Minimizing them all will increase the size of your browser window significantly. To do this, just click the tabs on the extreme left of the toolbars (they all have them).


When a Communicator discussion group message is part of a discussion thread, preceding messages are referred to in the message. These are the numbers you see in the References header. The numeral 1 refers to the original message in the thread, the numeral 2 the second message, and so on. Just click the numeral to go to the referred message directly (as long as it hasn't expired).


Rather than just opening Web pages, Communicator allows you to choose between opening a Web page or a file (if you're working on your own Web page). To do this, select File, Open Page, which opens the Open Page dialog box. If you want to open a Web page, type the URL into the location field. If you want to open a file, click Choose File and select the file from the list that appears. Select the Navigator option to view a page in the browser, or select the Composer option if you are creating a file. Click Open and the page or file opens.


If you've forgotten the page you just visited, place your pointer over the Back button. The name of the site appears in a pop-up box. This also works for the Forward button.


In the last tip, we mentioned variable width font, a text display option for mail and discussion group messages. This text style is a little easier to read, but it takes up more room. Actually, it looks significantly better when the message is printed. Consider switching to this option (select Edit, Preferences, Mail & Groups, then click Variable width font) when you want to print out a message, then switch back to fixed width font when you're finished.


Netscape Communicator's Personal Toolbar allows you quick access to your favorite sites. It's just as quick and easy to add new sites to the Personal Toolbar. Drag the Netsite location icon or any link within a page to the Personal Toolbar and drop it in. An icon linking that site appears, allowing you one-button access to the site.


The last tip showed you how to set the default font display in the Preferences box. You can also change font sizes on the fly from the browser window. To do this, select View, Increase Font or View, Decrease Font from the Communicator menu. Or, from the keyboard, press Ctrl-] to increase the font size, or Ctrl-[ to decrease the font size.


Some newsgroup posters just don't know when to stop. Thankfully, Communicator tells you the number of lines in each message, so you know what you're in for before you open the message. To see this information, scroll to the Lines column. Anything more than 20 or 30 lines suggests that the poster probably suffers from message overkill.

tepper THE INSIDE FRAME STORY Frames are sort of like pages within a page. You know how Communicator allows you to see the source code for a Web page? Well, you can do the same thing with a single frame. Right-click inside the frame and select View Frame Source. The inside story is yours to behold. SORT ON THE FLY Communicator allows you to quickly sort the messages in the Discussion Groups window. Simply click on the header of the column that describes the method by which you want to sort: for example, by Subject, Sender, Date, and so on. GETTING OFFLINE A Communicator preference called "Offline" allows you to establish the network connection at startup that best suits your setup and connection. To set this preference, select Edit, Preferences, which opens the Preferences dialog box. Select the category Offline, and the Offline panel appears on the right side of the box. There are three options. Choose Online Work Mode if you are on a network that's continually connected to the Internet. Choose Offline Work Mode if you are connected by a modem, or you want to select when to make the network connection. If you select this, Communicator doesn't initiate your network connection at startup. Finally, choose Ask Me if you want to be prompted each time you start up. If you are working offline and want to go online, select File, Go online and follow the prompts from the Download dialog box that appears. BETTER-LOOKING TEXT By default, Communicator displays mail or discussion group messages in something called "fixed width font." There is another display option called "variable width font," which looks a little better but takes up more room on the screen. To switch to this option, select Edit, Preferences and choose Mail & Groups. Click the radio button for Variable width font from the Display Messages and Articles With: section. Click OK to close the box and save your changes. SINGLE OR DOUBLE Single-click a message in the mail or Discussion Groups window to see the message in the bottom pane of the window. To see it in its own window, however, double-click it. (Ctrl-W will close the full-size window and return you to the split-pane view.) MORE DISCUSSION GROUPS WINDOW COLUMNS Communicator's Discussion Groups window contains familiar columns that provide information about the messages, such as Subject and Sender. There are, however, more columns than you see when you first open the window. To see more columns, click the little left or right arrow icons in the top right corner of the window. If you can't see the full name of the column, just resize it until you do. YOU DON'T SAY? There are some fancy-pants services on the Web that charge by the hour for finely wrought translations. But if you just need some quick-and-dirty instant language conversion, say from English to French or Spanish to English, try this boffo little translation engine at AltaVista You can enter a patch of text or even a whole URL (no frames, though). THE TIES THAT BIND Last time we talked about opening a new URL in a new browser window when you don't want to close the page you're on. This is also a good way to jump out of frames. When a Web site uses frames, you'll often find that when you click on a new URL, you're looking at the new page inside the old frames. This can be annoying, particularly when you're trying to view a full-size page within a relatively small frame. But by right-clicking the URL and choosing Open Link in New Browser Window, you'll leave those wretched frames behind. SECOND CHANCE Okay, what if you forget to right-click the URL you want, and you end up with your new page stuck in the frames anyway? Well, you can just hit the Back button and try again (this time, right-click the URL and choose Open Link in New Browser Window), or you can use the following workaround. In a blank area of the page you hope to free up (not the mean ol' frames page), right-click and choose Add to Bookmarks. Open your Bookmarks file (Ctrl-B) and double-click the last entry. Now the new page will load without any reminder of the previous site. This trick is a bit more cumbersome, but worth using if you know you want to bookmark the site anyway. COLOR MY WORLD So when's the last time you changed your background color--the color that shows up behind your e-mail messages and on Web sites where a background color is unspecified? If it's been a while, perhaps it's time for a change. To choose a new background color, choose Options, General Preferences and click the Colors tab. Where you see Background, click the Custom radio button. Now click the Choose Color button. Select a color from the chart and click OK. Click OK again to close the Preferences dialog box. FONTASIA Of course, the more conventional way to change the font you're reading is to go to Options, General Preferences and select the Fonts tab. Don't bother with those Encoding settings. Instead, where it says Use the Proportional Font, click the Choose Font button and try some different options. The fonts you're choosing from are those loaded on your hard drive. Most people have more fonts on their system than they'll ever need, but if you don't find anything that suits you, you might want to load some new ones. PAINT THE TOWN RED Last time, we explained how to change Navigator's background color. But the colors in the default palette are often too dark to make a suitable background. It may be better to mix up a custom color setting yourself. To do so, choose Options, General Preferences. Click the Colors tab. In the Background area, click the Custom radio button and click the Choose Color button. When the Color chart appears, click the Define Custom Colors bar. First, choose a basic color to modify in the Basic Colors list. Then, in the big rainbow color box, click around a bit to see the variations. The color you're actually choosing will appear in the smaller Color/Solid box below. Now click the small arrow to the right of the graded color bar and drag it up near the top, where the colors are lightest, maybe about one-fifth or one-sixth of the way down. Now, when you click around in the big color box, you'll see paler colors appear in the Color/Solid box. When you find a color you like, click OK to make your selection and close the Color dialog box. (As a safeguard, you can click Add to Custom Colors first to save this color for future reference.) Now click OK to close the Preferences dialog box. SHORTCUT ACCESS Some Web sites are just too important to relegate to the bookmark list. When this is the case, you can create a shortcut directly from the Windows desktop. Open the Web page, then right-click on a blank area. From the context menu, select Internet Shortcut. Now all you have to do is click the new desktop shortcut to access the site. NEW DATA ONLY Who wants to visit sites that don't have anything new to say? You can save yourself from unnecessary surfing by searching your bookmarked sites to find out which ones have been updated since your last visit. To do this, open your bookmarks file (press Ctrl-B), then select File, What's New? In the What's New? dialog box, select either All bookmarks or Selected bookmarks, then click Start Checking. Navigator scans your bookmarked sites and tells you if any data has changed. DUMP THE BUTTONS So you don't use those directory buttons that appear in the menu bar in the Navigator browser (What's New?, What's Cool?, Destinations, etc.)? No problem--just dump them from the browser. From the Navigator menu, choose Options, then deselect Show Directory Buttons. See you later, directory buttons. YOU'RE SO VAIN (I BET YOU THINK THIS SEARCH IS ABOUT YOU) Have you ever heard of a vanity search? That's what it's called when you enter your own name into a search engine and see how many listings come up. If this sort of behavior appeals to you, don't feel bad--you're not alone! To run a vanity search, you can wander from search engine to search engine, jonesing for results. But vanity search junkies get a quicker fix using a meta-search engine, such as Mamma, "the Mother of All Search Engines": which returned the most accurate results we found. Click the Phrase Search radio box to ensure precision. RAINBOW COALITION If all this color talk is old hat to you, you may be interested in some more advanced information. Netscape has prepared a short FAQ about its color palette and how to choose colors for your Web pages so that they don't look awful on your visitors' monitors: NOW WHERE WAS THAT? OK, so you accessed the Web page you wanted, but you just can't locate the text or link you're interested in. You can scroll until the cows come home, or you can just get to where you want immediately. Press Ctrl-F to open the Find box. Enter the text or URL you want to find in the Find What box and click OK. If there's anything that matches your entry, you'll go right to it. MOZILLA, MAN OF MYSTERY Last time we talked about the new Web site,, where efforts to coordinate Netscape's free source code project are underway. You'll recall that Mozilla is the name of Netscape's mascot. You can find out more about this seminal figure and even see pictures at You can also type about:mozilla in the Location box to have a secret missive revealed unto you. I GOTCHER FREE CODE RIGHT HEAH You've probably heard about Netscape's decision to release its Communicator source code so that outside developers could improve it. If you'd like to learn more about the project and monitor its progress, tune it to the site Netscape created to coordinate the effort. SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW You know you can click on a linked URL to go to it. But then the page you were looking at disappears. To open the new page without closing the old one, just right-click the URL and choose Open Link in New Browser Window. Now, if you like, you can return to the old page and continue reading it while the new page loads, and you can easily switch between the two using the Windows taskbar. SNEAK PREVIEWS If you want to see how a page looks before you print it, select File, Print Preview from the Netscape menu. This is a particularly good idea if the page contains graphics, because what you see on-screen can differ from what you see in print. If you like what you see in the preview, just click Print from the menu bar. KEEP 'EM SEPARATED There are a few ways to organize your bookmarks. You can, of course, create folders, which keep your bookmarked sites in related groups. You can also put separators between folders and/or bookmarks. To set these, open the bookmarks page (Ctrl-B), then select the folder or bookmark that you want to separate. Select Item, Insert Separator and a separator marker appears after the item you have selected. The next time you open your bookmarks list from the Navigator menu, a separator line appears wherever you inserted one. WHEN HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF When you'd like to return to a page you visited several sites ago, the quickest way is to open the Go menu and choose the page title from the list displayed. Bam! You're back. But even after a page has fallen off the Go menu, you can still get to it. The painstaking way is to click the Back button a gazillion times--the Back button has a longer memory than the Go menu. Another way is to access the History window using Ctrl-H. It will display your travels for the open browser window only. This is a good way to keep track of your history when you've been surfing for hours with several browser windows open. ONE BOOKMARK FOLDER ONLY You probably have many bookmarks organized into several folders. Rather than having all of these folders appear in the bookmark list from the Navigator menu, you can select only one folder to appear. To do this, open the bookmarks page (Ctrl-B), then select the folder. >From the bookmark menu, select Item, Set to Bookmark Menu Folder. The next time you access the bookmark menu, only the bookmarks in this folder appear. You can change this as often as you like, depending on which folder you want to see most often. (NOT) FOR YOUR EYES ONLY Ever wondered how to send a blind cc: to someone? A blind cc: is when you send an e-mail message to Bill, but you also send a copy to Linda--except Bill can't tell that by looking at your message, and the message Linda gets also shows only Bill as the recipient. It's a great way to hide a long list of recipients. When you're ready to send a message, put your official recipient in the To: field. Now, in the Message Composition window, go to the View menu and choose Mail Bcc. Now you'll see a new, Blind Cc: field in your mail message that wasn't there before. You can add as many names as you like to this field. Just separate each address with a comma and a space. RED HERRING What if you don't want any of your recipients to know who else is getting a particular message? Well, you can't just enter a slew of addresses in the Blind Cc: field and leave the To: field blank. There must always be an address listed in the To: field. But here's a simple trick you can use: Just enter your own e-mail address in the To: field. NEW HOME Your home page can be any Web page you choose. To set your home, select Options, General Preferences, then click the Appearance tab. Where it says "Browser Starts With," click the Home Page Location radio button, then type in the URL you want in the field. Click OK when you're finished. The next time you open Navigator, the browser has a new home. PRINTED MATTERS Navigator gives you some options for how information will appear on a page you print. To set these, select File, Page Setup, which opens the Page Setup dialog box. Select any options you want--for example, check the Document Title and/or Document Location (URL) boxes to make those appear in the page header--then click OK. You can change these options as often as you like, depending on the type of information you want on the printed page. HOME NEWS OR MAIL You don't even need to start Navigator with a browser window. If you like, you can begin each session with either your news or mail window. To set this, select Options, General Preferences, then click the Appearance tab. For the On Startup Launch option, select either Netscape Mail or Netscape News. Click OK to close the box and save your changes. The next time you start Navigator, it will open with the selected option. HOOKING UP In the previous tip, we talked about how to find yourself online. Usually, there's not much urgency involved in locating yourself. But sometimes you really do need to track down someone else. Whether you're looking for a person or a business, near or far, Switchboard, at can be an immensely helpful resource. Bookmark it. OOH, EE, OOH AH AH We've been talking about changing the background color of your Netscape browser, and it's worth mentioning that you can also use an image file as the browser background--though it would have to be a pretty pale and nondescript image to pass muster as an all-purpose background. Anything else would almost certainly induce dizziness and nausea. On the other hand, it could be a fun trick to play on a coworker. To use an image file as a background, choose Options, General Preferences and click the Colors tab. Under Background, select the Image File radio button and then click the Browse button to open the Select a Backdrop Image box. After you select the file you want to use, click Open. Click OK to close the Preferences box. Now check your Netscape Mail to see exactly what you've wrought. (To undo the damage, go back through the steps described above and simply delete the file name from the Image File text box, then click OK.) FONT ROULETTE Did you ever try to change the language of the page you're reading simply by changing the Document Encoding setting under Options? Heh, no such luck, right? Well, here's a silly use for those settings. If you're reading a Web page of fairly standard English text, you can go to Options, Document Encoding and choose any of the various languages listed there. Voila! The text on the page, still quite legible, has now been revealed in an entirely new font. But be warned: If there are any foreign words or phrases on the page, you'll probably need to revert to the Western setting. IMAGE IS EVERYTHING To see an image from a Web page by itself (you know, not surrounded by all that other junk), select the image, then right-click. From the context menu that appears, choose View Image. The image appears alone in a new browser window. Just click Back to return to the original page. TOTAL RECALL So, you found a really cool page within a large site, but forgot to bookmark it--and now you can't remember the complete URL. No problem. Go to the Location box and enter www. then the first few letters of the site name. At the first letter, Communicator automatically fills in the address of a previously visited site beginning with that letter. Enter more letters if the first try didn't turn up the site you're looking for. Unlike the Location box list, this technique does draw on all visited sites. BETTER THAN SHERWIN WILLIAMS The last tip told you how to change the way Communicator displays colors for Web page backgrounds and links. In addition to the basic color palette, you can create your own custom colors. To create a custom color for one of the options, click the color button, then click Define Custom Colors. Drag your cursor over the custom color window to create the color you want. When you find something appealing, click Add to Custom Colors. Then you can choose colors from the Custom colors palette as well as the Basic colors palette. NOT ANIMATED Hey, animations can be pretty cool in Web pages, but they can also slow the display of other stuff on the page. If you're not as interested in the animation as you are in the other stuff, simply select View, Stop Animations from the Communicator menu. TRUNCATED 'GO TO' Communicator always tries to make your browsing as quick and easy as possible. For example, you're familiar with entering a Web site URL in the Location (Go To) box as Well, forget all those http and www prefixes--just enter because Communicator knows the rest. And if it's a commercial address you're after, you can drop the ".com" part as well. MAKING THE CUT You probably know that the Location (Go To) box has a drop-down list of recently visited sites. You may notice, however, that some sites don't appear on the list. That's because the menu shows only URLs that you actually typed into the Location box or that you opened with the File, Open Page command. If you open a page by clicking a link from within another page, the URL won't make the list. SLOW DOWN, YOU TYPE TOO FAST The vast majority of errors people make when initiating searches are simple spelling and grammatical errors. This is significant because these kinds of errors are the ones most likely to defeat your search! For example, a recent visit to the Magellan Voyeur revealed the following search attempts: Oliver Ann Burns, freesewing patterns, ERMAN AND HESSE, AMsterdamchristianredlightdistrict, m ission style furniyure. The person who ran a search for "Oliver Ann Burns" is almost certainly trying to find information on the writer Olive Ann Burns (she wrote the popular novel Cold Sassy Tree.) Meanwhile, unless "freesewing" is a radical new movement that advocates threadless garment construction, that person needs to reenter the search string as "free sewing patterns," with the additional space. "ERMAN AND HESSE" produces no results except a stern warning from Magellan concerning the overuse of Boolean operators. But a simple search on "Hermann Hesse" brings up as its first return the Hermann Hesse Home Page (which Magellan stupidly ranks only 77 percent relevant). We won't elaborate on the final two examples above, except to point out that it really is more efficient to proofread your query before initiating a search. Otherwise, you may not notice the mistake that's causing you to get such lame returns. We don't really think many of you make such gross errors, but these examples do illustrate the need to slow down and get it right. More search engine tips coming up. CONSIDER THE SOURCE There are a whole lot of search engines out there, and just about every one includes advice on how best to use its search tools. Usually there's a button or a link near the search text entry box that's marked Search Tips, Help, or Hints. It's really worth taking a look at these tips--you may be surprised by what you find. It turns out not every search engine likes the same treatment. Northern Light doesn't support Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), though most search engines do. AltaVista encourages natural language queries ("Who is the world's tallest man?"), while other search sites are indifferent to them. You get the idea. Infoseek actually has one of simplest, most comprehensible search tips pages. It's located at If you prefer things complicated, check out AltaVista's help page. You'll find as you scroll down that it offers more specialized search functions than you usually see: PEEK-A-BOO, I SEE YOU You want to know what's wrong with this country? Spend a little time with a search-engine voyeur and you start to get some ideas. Just don't spend TOO much time with these things, or you might lose faith in humanity and stuff like that. Okay, so maybe we're exaggerating. Judge the collective consciousness for yourself by checking out Magellan's Voyeur at There's also a Search Ticker at WebCrawler, but it didn't display well for us (a note tries to blame Java problems on your browser, but Navigator's not the sort of browser to stumble over a little Java applet, right?). If you want to give it a try, it's at Next time we'll talk about some search gaffes these voyeurs reveal. BACKTRACKING Sometimes you'll see an actual URL listed among the searches on Voyeur. This isn't as dumb as it looks. Though you might think this is someone trying to get TO a particular site by typing the URL into a search engine text box instead of their browser's Location box--and I'm sure, given what we now know about search engine users as a group, some of them definitely are making this mistake--this is also a way people find out who is linking to their site or how many of the pages in their site are listed in the search engine. Let's say you have a large personal Web site at If you go to a search engine and enter that URL in the search box, it will (depending on how pages are indexed), tell you every page that contains your URL. Which is to say, any of the pages on your site that are listed with that search engine, as well as any outside page in its index that contains a link to your page. This will include links to individual pages at your site, such as, so long as the first part of the URL matches. FREE ASSOCIATION When it comes to search engines, don't be afraid to pile on those keywords. Lots of people tend to get terse when using a search engine, but that's not to your advantage. Most people run searches on fairly general subjects, such as "education" or "swimming" or "resume." (Oh, and "sex"--that's the most popular search term of all.) Anyway, instead of one keyword, try to brainstorm a search string made up of multiple keywords: early childhood education preschool developmental child-led; U.S. Masters swimming clubs meets practice; resume job hunting career search cover letter Web services. Most search engines will first list those pages that contain the highest number of the keywords provided. While you're at it, don't stop with multiple keywords. For the best possible results, try your search on multiple search engines. They're really NOT all the same--sometimes one will come up dry while the next one proves a gold mine. Here's a list of some of the most popular search sites: Infoseek; Excite; AltaVista; HotBot; Lycos; Northern Light LOCAL YOKELS Sure, Communicator allows you to browse the Internet, but you can also use it to access files or documents that are stored locally on your computer (or that are linked to an internal network). To do this, select File, Open Page (or press Ctrl-O), which brings up the Open Page dialog box. Enter the path and name of the file if you know it, then click Open. If you're not sure of the file name or folder, click Choose File and select the file from the browser box. You can open any kind of file--HTML, spreadsheets, graphics, text, and so on--but you may need the right kind of plug-in to view some file types. MULTIPLE OPENERS In the last tip, we told you how to set Communicator to start with an alternate feature open (mailbox, newsgroups, or browser). You can select more than one or all of the options if you'd like (select Edit, Preferences, Appearance.) When you have more than one option selected, Communicator opens them all when you start up but keeps some in the background. NO PICTURES, PLEASE The Communicator toolbars include both text and icons by default. You have the option to turn off one or the other, however, which gives you more room in the browser window. To set the toolbar style, select Edit, Preferences to open the Preferences box, then click Appearance. Select either Pictures Only or Text Only from the Show Toolbar As Section. Click OK to close the box and save your settings. Changes take effect immediately. ALTERNATE OPENERS You don't have to start each Communicator session with the browser. Many users prefer to open their mailbox first. To set this, open Communicator and select Edit, Preferences to open the Preferences dialog box. Click Appearance from the Category list and select Messenger Mailbox in the On Startup Launch section. You can also start with Collabra Discussions if you want to get right to your favorite newsgroup discussions. To open with the browser, select Navigator. Deselect any items you don't want to see at startup. Click OK to close the box and save your settings, which take effect the next time you start Communicator. BACK . . . BACK . . . BACK? If you want to return to sites you've previously browsed, just click the Back button, correct? Correct, but you may have noticed that sometimes the Back button doesn't work. In fact, it's grayed out and inaccessible. How can you get back when there's no Back? Don't worry, it's not your browser making a mistake. Sometimes Web links are coded to open up sites in a new Web browser window. Nobody asks you first. That means that when you see a grayed out Back button, this is just the first page that's been opened in the new browser window. To confirm this is the case, look at the status bar at the bottom of the screen, which indicates each Communicator browser window that's open (and any other open file or program, for that matter). To get "back," simply close this browser window. EMINENT DOMAIN Netscape has been in the news quite a bit lately because of its efforts to expand and enhance its Web site. The idea is to make the Netscape home page, Netcenter, an all-in-one destination, more along the lines of Yahoo, Excite, AOL, or Disney World. If you'd like to watch the work in progress, remember that you can always get to the Netscape home page just by clicking the big "N" to the right of your Location box. For more information about the Netcenter plans, you can read the article at NUGGETS OF NETSCAPE Another resource for getting your tricky questions answered is a variety of Netscape-oriented newsgroups. Netscape calls them NUGgies, and you can, too, if you really want to. The subject areas of these newsgroups range from general Netscape information to discussion of Navigator and Communicator under various platforms to specialty groups devoted to development, servers, and security issues. For more information about the Netscape newsgroups, visit DO YOU YAHOO? You know that Netscape Guide by Yahoo we talked about the other day? You can actually get there fast by clicking the Destinations button on your toolbar. If you've got your Directory buttons hidden (and who could blame you?), another quick way is to pull down the Directory menu and choose Netscape Destinations. COLLECTED WISDOM When it's specific problem-solving advice you need, remember that Netscape has prepared a Knowledge Base with answers to lots of thorny questions. You can browse the Knowledge Base at or you might find it easier to use the search engine to narrow down possibilities: NO STAMP TAXES Have you filed your taxes yet? If not, you may appreciate a new service on the Web: TurboTax Online. TurboTax is the popular tax preparation software made by Intuit, the same people who make Quicken. Now they've put it online, where you can use it to prepare--and file--your tax forms. (Yes, that's right, they will file your tax form electronically if you choose.) Even better, you can try it out for free. All they ask is that you cough up a measly $9.95 before you print or file the results. LOW ON CACHE If you do a lot of surfing, it's a good idea to clear the Communicator disk cache periodically. The disk cache keeps certain elements of Web pages in a file on your computer's hard drive. This speeds up page access, but it can also take up disk space if you surf a lot. To clear the cache, select Edit, Preferences to open the Preferences box. Select Advanced - Cache from the Category list, then click Clear Disk Cache. Click OK to close the Preferences box. GET THE MESSAGE? If you want to know for sure whether a message you send gets to its intended destination, include a return receipt. To do this, open the Composition window and compose the message. Click the Message Sending Options tab in the Addressing Area toolbar, then check the Return Receipt option. After you send the message, you'll receive a confirming e-mail message if (and when) it gets to its destination. GET YOUR PRIORITIES IN ORDER ommunicator also includes a way to indicate the importance of your message. You probably want the recipient to know if it's high priority, for example. To set the priority, compose the new message and click the Message Sending Options tab in the Addressing Area toolbar. Click the drop-down arrow from the Priority list and select an option. If you select Highest, the message includes this designation in the message headers (some e-mail programs indicate the priority graphically). THEY'RE HISTORY The History list keeps track of all the Web sites you visit when you browse with Communicator. Because this list can get large in a hurry, Communicator periodically clears the History list. By default, history files expire after nine days, but you have the ability to set the expiration date to something else. If you are a particularly active surfer, for example, you might want to set this number much lower--say, to one or two days. To set the History expiration date, select Edit, Preferences to open the Preferences box, then click Navigator. In the History section, enter a number of days in the Pages in History Expire After option. Click OK to close the box and save your settings. BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS Still searching for solutions to thorny problems? Try the Unofficial Netscape FAQ, prepared by Netscape "Champions" (a group of Netscape-designated gurus), available at FROM RIGHT TO LEFT Do you ever have trouble nailing that little X in the top right corner of your Navigator browser window when you want to close it (maybe you end up comically minimizing or maximizing the window instead, launching a short game of "chase the X")? Don't get irritated--just shift your emphasis to the other side. You can double-click in the top-left corner of the window to close it. You probably have a small Netscape helm icon there. Give it a try. Pressing Ctrl-W will also do the trick, but that's not exactly mnemonic, now is it? CRACKING EASTER EGGS Every version of Netscape Navigator has so-called Easter eggs, or hidden elements, and it's surprisingly fun to find them. Think of them as the developer's way of saying "Gotcha!" To see a list of Navigator Easter eggs from the Hacker's Guide to Navigator, take a gander at Curious about Easter eggs in other software programs? Visit the Easter Egg Archive at WHAT'S YOUR NAME? WHO'S YOUR DADDY? There comes a time in many of our lives when nobody asks us for ID anymore. It can be a bittersweet experience, frankly. But if you visit a password-protected Web site on a regular basis, you may have thought that day would never come on the Web. Well, you were wrong, and that's good news if you're tired of typing in an ID and password all the time. This trick allows you to bypass that ID/password dialog box. Just type in the Location box or, even better, create a bookmark containing this modified URL as your destination. If you prefer not to have your password in your bookmarks, where it could be found by snooping gremlins, you can modify the URL with just your user ID, so that you'll be prompted for a password only. To achieve this, type the URL (Having trouble with the bookmark? Let's review: To create a new bookmark from scratch, open the Bookmarks [Ctrl-B] then choose Item, Insert Bookmark. Fill in the name and URL, then click OK. To modify an existing bookmark, right-click the bookmark and choose Properties. After you tinker with the URL, click OK.) RELOCATION EXPERTS Hey, ever notice that when you visit a site hosted on a Netscape server, the word "Location" to the right of your Location box turns into the word "Netsite"? There's not much you can do with that information, really, but now you know. DRAFTS MAN You are almost always going to compose messages that you don't quite finish or don't want to send right away. No problem. Just click Save in the Message Composition window and Communicator moves the message to the Drafts folder. When you want to work on it some more, open the Drafts folder and double-click the unfinished message to open it in the Composition window. SPELLING BEE Nothing's more embarrassing than sending a message that contains spelling errors--even in these casual e-mail days. Before you send that message, always check the spelling. In Communicator's Composition window, select Tools, Check Spelling (or click the Spelling button if you have the Message Toolbar displayed). The Composition spelling checker quickly shows you the error of your ways and allows you to correct matters automatically. BACK TO BASICS For the benefit of those who are newly online, as well as those helping someone learn to use Navigator, let's review the basics: those core tips that come in handy most every day. We'll spend the next few days going over some of the simplest and most useful Navigator tips and tricks. To begin, let's review the ABCs of Navigator: Ctrl-A selects all the text on a page--even a Web page. Ctrl-B opens your Bookmarks file. Ctrl-C copies a selection (then you can paste it somewhere else). Ctrl-D adds a new bookmark to your Bookmarks file. Ctrl-E redoes what was undone (in Netscape Mail). Ctrl-F opens the Find dialog box so you can search a Web page or e-mail for a word or phrase. Ctrl-H opens the History window so you can see where you've been. Ctrl-I loads images (for when you have images turned off). Ctrl-K compresses a folder (in Netscape Mail). Ctrl-L opens the Location box or, in Netscape Mail, forwards a message. Ctrl-M opens a new message composition window. Ctrl-N opens a new browser window. Ctrl-O opens the Open dialog box, so you can browse your directories for a specific file to open. Ctrl-P initiates the Print command. Ctrl-R reloads the current page or, in Netscape Mail, replies to the current message. Ctrl-S opens the Save As dialog box. Ctrl-T gets new mail. Ctrl-U opens the Open Location dialog box. Ctrl-V pastes a selection that you've copied. Ctrl-W closes the active window. Ctrl-X excises (cuts) a selection. Ctrl-Z zaps (undoes) the last action. STOP! I WANT TO GET OFF If you click a link and decide mid-click that you don't want to go there after all, just drag that half click over to a blank area of the Web page and then let go. You won't go anywhere. If your voyage is already underway when you change your mind, press Esc to halt the transmission immediately. TOOLBAR ARRANGING In the last tip, we showed you how to use different bookmark folders as your Personal Toolbar. Remember too that you can add bookmarks to the Personal Toolbar anytime you want. Just grab any bookmark icon and drop it onto the toolbar. GET PERSONAL The Personal Toolbar allows you to put certain bookmarked sites right on your toolbar. That's pretty cool, but the best part is that Communicator allows you to make any of your bookmark folders the Personal Toolbar. You can switch them any time you want. To do this, open your bookmark file (Ctrl-B) then highlight the folder that you want to make the Personal Toolbar. Right-click the folder, then choose Set as Toolbar Folder from the context menu--and you have an instant new Personal Toolbar. NEW BOOKMARK ADDITION One way to keep control of your bookmark file is to put all new bookmarks into one folder. Communicator allows you to do this automatically. Click Bookmarks, then select Edit Bookmarks (or press Ctrl-B) to open the Bookmarks file. Choose File, New Folder from the menu to create a new folder (name it something like "New Bookmarks"), then click OK. The new folder appears on the folder list. Highlight this and right-click, then select Set as New Bookmarks Folder from the context menu. That's all there is to it. Now when you're at a site that you want to bookmark, just select Bookmarks, Add Bookmark. The site is automatically added to the New Bookmarks folder. (Note: This only works when you select Bookmarks, Add Bookmark--not when you drag the URL from the Location box to Bookmarks.) EXPRESS MAIL You don't have to open Netscape Mail first to compose a new mail message. From the File menu, choose New Mail Message, or just press Ctrl-M. Of course, if you're already in the Netscape Mail window, you can click the To Mail button on the toolbar. ARE WE THERE YET? You can tell whether a Web page is finished loading by watching the Status Bar, located at the bottom of your browser window. Status messages appear on the left side. When a page has finished loading, the message "Document Done" will appear. Another way to tell if a page is finished loading: Watch the Netscape "N" in the top-right corner; when those shooting stars stop falling, the page has finished loading. STATUS SYMBOL Note that the Status Bar, located at the bottom of your browser window, also provides useful information about the functions of Netscape features as you roll your cursor over various buttons and menu items. In addition, if you hold your cursor over a link on a Web page without clicking it, that page's URL will appear in the Status Bar. A CHANGE IS COMING What's the point of opening a site if it's the same as it was the last time you visited? Communicator allows you to see if any of your bookmarked sites contain new information before you open them. To find out the update story, press Ctrl-B to open your bookmark file and select View, Update Bookmarks, which opens the What's New? box. Check either All Bookmarks or Selected Bookmarks (in the latter case, highlight your selections before opening the What's New? box), then click Start Checking. Communicator searches the sites and indicates which, if any, have changed since the last time you visited. ONE BOOKMARK FOLDER AT A TIME If you're like most Netscape Communicator users, your bookmark list tends to get pretty long, even if you organize everything neatly into folders. However, you may not need to see all these folders every time you use Communicator. Turns out you can limit the bookmarks display to a single folder. Open the Bookmarks file (Ctrl-B) and select the folder that you want to display. Right-click the folder and select Set as Bookmark Menu from the context menu. The next time you open the bookmark list, only this menu displays. You can change the folder again anytime you want, of course. LOOK FOR THE BOOKMARK Most bookmark files get so large that you lose track of what they contain. To find a long lost or misplaced bookmark, press Ctrl-B to open the Bookmarks file and press Ctrl-F to bring up the Find Bookmark box. Enter the word, phrase, or URL that you want to search for in the Find field, then select the search criteria. As you see, you can search for the name, location, or description (you can choose any or all), and you can match the case or the whole word (you don't have to select either). Click OK, and Communicator highlights the first bookmark that matches your search or tells you that no file was found. Note also that you can use Ctrl-G to Find Again. COPY THE BOOKMARK Sometimes you want to let someone else in on one of your cool bookmarks. If so, open your bookmark file (Ctrl-B) and highlight the bookmark. Right-click, then select Copy Link Location from the context menu. Now open a new message composition window (Ctrl-M) and select Edit, Paste. The live link pastes into the message. A NEW VIEW Communicator offers a variety of ways to view the contents of your Bookmarks. To get a new view, open the bookmarks file (Ctrl-B) and choose View from the Communicator menu. As you can see, you can select the view that you want: By Name, By Location, By Created On, or By Last Visited. Once you make the view choice, the bookmark fileimmediately reorganizes itself. If you have bookmarks in folders, they get organized within the folder in the manner you selected. MY BABY WROTE ME A LETTER If you're anxiously awaiting a piece of mail, you can speed things up without modifying the time interval set in your Preferences. Every time you click the envelope in the bottom-right corner of the browser window--even if there's no exclamation point there--it will access the mail server anyway and fetch any new mail messages that have arrived in between server checks. THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE Assuming you use Netscape Mail as your mail client--and it makes a perfectly good one, by the way--if you have new e-mail messages waiting to be read, an exclamation point will appear beside the tiny envelope in the bottom- right corner of your browser window. Click the envelope to read your mail. If no exclamation point appears there, that just means you have no new mail. SORT OF A GOOD IDEA It's a good idea to sort the mail you intend to keep in folders. To create a mail folder, go to the File menu and choose New Folder. When the Netscape User Prompt box appears, enter a name for the new folder. Think carefully about what you want to name this folder, since the folders you create will appear in alphabetical order. If a folder you use often appears too low on the list for efficiency, you may want to try a new work-around folder name, such as "AAA-Work." QUESTION AUTHORITY If you see a question mark instead of an exclamation point next to the envelope in the bottom-right corner of the browser window, it usually indicates that Navigator is having a problem accessing the mail server. If the question mark appears for only a short time, it's probably just a problem on your ISP's end that's been resolved. But if the question mark lingers, it suggests that your mail settings are messed up. To check out your mail settings, go to the Options menu and choose Mail and News Preferences. Then, in the Preferences box, you can click the tabs at the top to move around. If you're not sure what your mail server settings ought to be, contact your ISP. TIME IS ON MY SIDE You can set the time interval that Navigator uses to determine how often to check mail. Go to the Options menu and choose Mail and News Preferences. Click the Servers tab. Under Mail, where it says Check for Mail, make sure the Every radio button is checked and enter the number of minutes you prefer in the box. If your system is on the slow side, know that you won't be helping matters by entering a very short interval (like 1 minute, you wacky compulsive!). ENCRYPTION DESCRIPTION A secure Internet document uses a process called encryption to scramble its contents, which prevents them from being seen by unauthorized users. There are a few different types of encryption, and you can find out which type a particular document uses in the Security Info box. To see this, click the security icon when you have a secure document open. Click Open Page Info and look in the bottom frame for the Security field, which tells you what type of encryption the page uses. A SECURE SITE When you access a secure site, the padlock security icon changes to a "locked" position. When you click the icon, the Security Info box shows you encryption information about the Web page you're in. Click View Certificate to see information about the digital security certificate that was used to "sign" the document. The most important information here is who the certificate belongs to and who issued it. SECURITY GUARDS Communicator allows you to control how it notifies you about security issues. For example, you'll see a warning each time you enter a secure site. To set these options, click the padlock security icon to open the Security Info page, then click Navigator. As you can see in the Show a Warning Before section, you can choose to be warned when you enter and leave encrypted sites, and when you view pages that mix encrypted and unencrypted information. Generally speaking, you should leave these alerts on. However, if you work on a secure network (such as an intranet) or are confident that the sites you visit are secure, you can uncheck these warnings. BOOKMARK COMPOSER Want to edit one of your bookmarked sites? Open the bookmark file (Ctrl-B), select the bookmark, and right-click. From the context menu, choose Open Link in Composer. The site opens in Composer (Communicator's HTML editor). Of course, you won't be able to make permanent changes to sites you don't own, but you can get some idea of how the site works. SECURITY CONSCIOUS The Internet can still be a pretty wild place, so it makes sense to be careful about the sites you visit and the pages you download. After all, you don't let just anyone into your house, do you? If you want to verify that a page really comes from the site it's supposed to, click the security icon (the padlock) in the bottom-left corner when you have the page open. The Verification section tells you what site hosts the page. If it's nothing like what you expected to see, be cautious about downloading the page. TAKE OUT THE PAPERS AND THE TRASH You should empty the Trash folder in Netscape Mail often to keep your hard drive slim and trim. To do so, go to the File menu and choose Empty Trash Folder. When you empty the Trash folder, you may notice your folders being compressed. This is another space-saving measure. You can also compress folders on the fly using the Compress Folder command, Ctrl-K. DUAL VIEW You probably know that you can see a Web page's source code by choosing View, Document Source. Viewing source code is a good way to learn the rudiments of HTML, particularly if you choose a page with a relatively simple design. You can also learn a little more about a Web document, such as its security status and, sometimes, when it was last modified, by choosing View, Document Info. NETCENTER POST OFFICE Netscape has announced that it will offer free, Web-based e-mail through its Netcenter portal site beginning sometime this summer. You will be able to send and receive Netscape WebMail from any computer with Internet access, so it's a nice perk for travelers or people in business who want an e-mail address for private correspondence. The WebMail service, provided in partnership with USA.Net, will easily integrate with your existing Netscape Mail client software. To find out more about Netscape WebMail, you can read the press release at YOU'RE SO INSECURE So what do we mean by security status, anyway? Well, every Web site is either secure, insecure, or mixed (that is, it contains both secure and insecure pages). See that little skeleton key down in Navigator's bottom-left corner? That key tells you the security status of a given Web page. A broken key on a gray background, the one you'll see most, means the document is insecure. That's not usually a big deal, unless they want something valuable from you, such as a credit card number. In that case, you'll want to look for an unbroken key on a royal blue background, which denotes a secure environment. Even the teeth on the key provide security information: one tooth indicates medium-grade encryption; two teeth means the site is protected by high-grade encryption. Go ahead and click the key itself to learn more about a page's relative security. GET PERSONALLY CERTIFIED If you want to take better advantage of Communicator's online security, get a personal digital certificate of your own. Once you have one, you can digitally sign e-mail messages (assuring your identity), receive encrypted messages, and verify your identity to private or secure Web sites. It's easy to get a personal certificate. Open Communicator and click the security icon. From the Security Info page, click Yours from the Certificates list, which opens the Your Certificates page. Click Get a Certificate, and you connect to the Netscape Client Certification page (if you get a security warning along the way, click Continue). Netscape's page tells you all about various certifying authorities and provides links to them. Select the certifying authority that you want, then follow the instructions to obtain the certificate. These can be complex, so pay attention to the details. Also, certifying authorities have different levels and different charges, so you might want to shop around before getting the certificate. CERTIFICATE ACCEPTED When you access a secure Internet site, you accept its security certificate. The certificate is saved on your system, and Communicator allows you to view these even when you're not connected to the site. You can also tell Communicator to take certain actions when it finds another document that comes from the holder of one of the certificates held on your system. For example, you can opt to reject all documents from a particular certificate holder you don't like. To see the certificates you have accepted, click the padlock security icon, then click Web Sites from the Certificates categories. When you select a particular certificate, you can delete it, verify it (determine if it's still valid or expired), or edit it (dictate the actions that Communicator takes when the certificate holder sends you a document). Just click the appropriate button to do these. SIGNERS OF THE TIMES Web sites and individual users have security certificates granted to them by special certifying authorities; these are called signers. Their function is to check the identity of a site and make sure that they assign a unique digital certificate. These signers use certificates to identify the certifying authorities, which are stored on your system. To get a look at these, click the Security icon, then select Signers from the Certificates list. The certificates appear in the Certificate Signers' Certificates list box. To verify if a certificate is still valid, select it and click Verify. SECURE THE SECURE SOCKETS LAYER Netscape Communicator uses the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol for Internet security. This is built in and is not something you need to think about too hard. However, you probably noticed that the Security Info Navigator page includes an option to select an SSL version (v2 or v3). Both of these options should be checked by default, and you should leave them that way. VERY FINE VERIFY The last tip told you the basics for getting a personal digital certificate. One of the best known certifying authorities for personal certificates is VeriSign. You can get to its site from Netscape's Client Certification page, or you can access it directly at If you want to try before you buy, VeriSign offers trial versions of some certificates. MEAT AND POTATOES You probably already know you can type the heart of a .com URL in the Location box to get to it. For example, you can type netscape instead of But you may not know that the technique works whether you're heading for the site's home page or any other page, no matter how deeply buried in directories and subdirectories it might be. As long as you know the rest of the URL, you can type it in. For example: netscape/netcenter/marketplace/travel.html The downside to all this convenience is that it takes Navigator a while to sort things out. So if you're a fast typist in a hurry, you may find it quicker just to enter the complete URL. CACHE IN YOUR CHIPS Reader J.J. writes: "With my cache set to an (overly generous) max of 7500KB, I should be storing less than 7-1/2 megs of junk, right? But when I cleared my cache I recovered 45MB of disk space!" How can this happen? A substantial part of the problem is that cache files get stored in 32KB allotments. Basically, this means all those adorable little Web page buttons and bows--1KB image files--are renting big 32KB apartments on your hard drive. And you're left sweating the difference. The lesson here is to clear the cache on a regular basis. Go to Options, Network Preferences and click the Cache tab. Click the button that says Clear Disk Cache Now. If it makes you feel better, you can click the button that says Clear Memory Cache Now, too. SECURITY GUARDS Of course, you probably already know when you're heading into secured territory, because Navigator starts firing off urgent notifications in big dialog boxes. Don't be intimidated by these warnings, though. When a site is secured, it just means they've used some type of encryption to create an environment wherein you can send private information with considerably less risk of it being intercepted by bad guys. You'll often find secured areas on shopping sites, for example, where they want you to buy stuff with your credit card and let them mail it to your home. Rest assured that you can explore the depths of a secure site without the risk of anyone starting an FBI file on you or taking your money without permission. Remember that it's difficult for strangers to get your credit card number or other personal information about you unless you give it out. If you're excessively concerned about being victimized, just don't turn over credit card information to anyone online. PRODUCTIVITY GAINS Think you need to wait for a download to finish before you can start another task? Actually, you don't. Go right ahead and minimize the Saving Location box, then surf on or tackle another job. You can even download more than one file at the same time. But--and this is a big but--keep your computer's constitution in mind. Downloading files is hard work, and the more tasks you throw at the computer, the longer they'll all take. If you overload your system to the point that it crashes in the midst of a long download, well, that's not just counter-productive--it's seriously aggravating. CACHE AND CARRY So how much space should you allot to your disk and memory cache settings? For Navigator 3.x., Netscape recommends a disk cache of 5000KB, with 1024KB for memory cache. Go ahead and experiment, though. If you tend to hit the same handful of sites over and over, or if you don't mind waiting a bit longer to download Web pages, you may not wish to give up so much precious space to the cache. TANGO AND CACHE A quick way to find out what files are living off the fat of the hard drive is to type about:cache in your URL Location box. To see the memory cache, type about:memory-cache Finally, to see just the images stored in your cache, type about:image-cache PASSWORD PROTECTED Communicator allows you to protect your personal certificates with a password. This means that only those who know the password (presumably you) can access the certificate. To set a password for the certificate, click the security icon to open the Security Info page, then click Passwords. Select one of the options for when Communicator asks for the password, then click Set Password. Enter the password where appropriate, then click OK to return to the Passwords dialog box. Click OK again to close the box. DON'T LOSE TRACK OF THIS UFAQ The Netscape Unofficial FAQ has a new domain: The UFAQ is a joint effort produced by the Netscape Champions, volunteers who answer questions in the various Netscape newsgroups. It's definitely worth a bookmark. CHANGE IS GOOD A password for your personal certificates doesn't have to last forever. In fact, you may have good reason to change it every now and then, particularly if you work in a shared environment. To make changes, click the security icon to open the Security Info page, then select Passwords. Click Change Password, enter the old password, and set the new one. If you decide that you can live without a password, leave the New Password field blank. Click OK to close the Setting Up Your Communicator Password page, then click OK again to close the Security Info page. KEEPING SECURITY SAFE A personal digital certificate is pretty important, so you should copy it to a file for safekeeping. This is very easy to do. Open the Your Certificates page (click the security icon then click Yours from the Certificates list) then select the certificate. Click Export, which opens the File Name to Export dialog box. Enter a file name and select a directory from the Save In field. Click Save and you're all set. For additional safekeeping, you might want to save the file to a floppy disk. FAVORITES TO BOOKMARKS Need to convert Microsoft Internet Explorer Favorites to Netscape Navigator 3.x bookmarks (or vice versa)? Download a converter called NavEx from,1216,4008,00.html NavEx is postcardware. This means the author doesn't expect money for the software, but would enjoy receiving a postcard from you. You'll find his address and more info at http://MACH5.OCS.DREXEL.EDU/navex/Communications/postcards.asp VERSION IMMERSION Not exactly sure which version of Netscape you're using? Go to the Help menu and choose About Netscape to get precise version information.

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED When you have a personal digital certificate, you can sign your outgoing e-mail messages. Signing a message assures the recipient that the message really came from your computer. To sign a message, create a new message and then click the Message Sending Options tab. Select the Signed option and continue with the message as usual. When a message is signed, a signature tag icon appears next to the Security icon.

AUTOMATED SECURITY Communicator's Messenger includes some settings that allow you to encrypt or sign messages every time you create a message. To set these options, click the Security icon, then select Messenger. Choose any or all of the three Sending Signed/Encrypted Mail options. The options Encrypt Mail Messages, When It Is Possible means that all outgoing messages are encrypted as long as you have the recipient's digital security certificate; Sign Mail Messages, When It Is Possible means that all outgoing messages are signed as long as you already have a personal digital certificate; and Sign Discussion (News) Messages, When It Is Possible means that all messages to newsgroups are signed as long as you have a personal digital certificate. Click OK to close the box.

ENCRYPTO-GRAPHIC In order to send an encrypted e-mail message, you must have already received a signed message from the individual or site that you want to send the message to. You don't need to own a personal digital certificate to send an encrypted message, but no one will be able to send you an encrypted message if you don't have one. Bottom line: If you really want to take advantage of encryption, get a personal digital certificate.

TALES FROM THE ENCRYPT With an e-mail certificate, you can encrypt e-mail messages for even better security. Encrypted messages are scrambled so they can't be read from the time they leave your computer to the time they reach the recipient's computer. The recipient must have a digital security certificate to decrypt the message. Communicator uses a key in the recipient's certificate to encrypt the message on your end. To encrypt a message, open a new message, click the Message Sending Options tab, then click the Encrypted option. The Security icon "locks" and gets a yellowish background.

GET THE ENCRYPTION OK Communicator can tell you whether or not you can encrypt a message. To find out, create a new message. Make sure you address the message, then click the Security icon (or choose Security Info from the Communicator menu). The Security Info page for this message comes up, which tells you if you can encrypt and/or sign the message. Click OK to close the Security Info page and return to the Composition window.

CERTIFICATE CHECK You'll know right away if you have received a signed and encrypted message (or one or the other). The Security icon looks "locked" if it's encrypted, and there's a signed tag next to it if it's signed (both if it's both). The message itself also contains a special Encrypted and Signed (or one or the other) icon within the message beside the headers. To check out the encryption or the signature, click the Security icon. The Security Info page for the message appears, telling you the type of encryption used and validity of the digital signature. To see more about the certificate, click View.

OTHER PEOPLE'S CERTIFICATES A couple tips ago, we told you that in order to send an encrypted message to someone, you need to have received a signed message from that person. Well, this is not exactly the case. The recipient may have added his or her digital certificate to a large public directory on the Internet or to an LDAP directory on your intranet. If this is the case, you can obtain the certificate and send encrypted messages to the recipient. To find out the certificate story, open the Messenger Mailbox and click the Security icon (or select Security Info from the Communicator menu) to open the Security Info page. Select People from the Certificates list to open the Other People's Certificates dialog box. Click Search Directory. In the Search Directory dialog box, select the directory to search (click the drop-down list to see the available directories), then enter the e-mail address of the person whose certificate you're looking for and click Search. In a couple of minutes, a Search Results dialog box appears listing any matches. Click OK to save any certificates it found.

STOPPING JAVA IN ITS TRACKS You know, sometimes Java applets can be more trouble than they're worth. If you're having speed or performance problems and suspect Java applets are the culprit, you can just turn them off. Go to Options, Network Preferences and click the Languages tab. Now deselect Enable Java and Enable JavaScript. Actually, you may get a performance improvement just by disabling Java and leaving JavaScript enabled. Experiment for yourself.

I GET AROUND Subscriber Ryan A. writes to remind us: "An easy way to move back and forth between viewed pages and the current page is to use the Alt key in combination with the arrow keys. Alt-left arrow moves backward a page, while Alt-right arrow moves forward a page." Thanks for the tip, Ryan!

Navigator 3.x

BEATING THE SYSTEM In response to a recent tip suggesting work-around names for mail folders--which appear in alphabetical order--Ray H. writes: "Instead of using 'AAA' to preface the new folder name, try using an underscore, like this: _Work. It allows the names to be easily recognized and alphabetizes ahead of the A's." Ray adds that this trick works well in other Windows applications, such as Windows Explorer. Way to go, Ray!

HARD COPY Subscriber Dave S. wonders if there's a way to print out a hard copy of his more than 200 bookmarked URLs. As a matter of fact, there is. To print out all your bookmarked URLs, use a text editor, such as WordPad, to open your bookmark.htm file, then choose File, Print. Be sure to use a text editor, NOT a word processor, to open the file (because word processors can introduce excess characters). There's no need to make any changes to the file--just print it and get out of there! Unfortunately, printing this way will get you just the URLs without their descriptive names. To get a list of the names by themselves (without the URLs), open your bookmark file in Navigator and print it.


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