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Netscape Communicator Essentials


By smbea (mabelle@msc.net.ph)

In our two previous issues, we've featured a couple of articles on tips relating to your Internet Explorer browser. While survey says that IE is still the most popular browser used by Internet people, Netscape comes to a very close second. We haven't forgotten the Netscape people so now here are a lot (and I mean a lot!) of Netscape tips for you.

Tip : 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31

  • Tip # 0
    When you visit Web sites using Netscape Communicator, those sites are being kept track of by your browser's History list. If you tend to visit Web sites often enough, Communicator clears your History list periodically. You can set the expiration date for your history clearance. Communicator's History list clearacance is set at nine day by default. To set the History expiration date, select Edit on your Communicator toolbar, then Preferences to open the Preference box, and then click Navigator. In the History section, enter a number of days for the "Pages in history expire after" option. Click OK to close the box and save your settings.
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  • Tip # 1
    You found a really cool site, but forgot to bookmark it--and now you can't remember the complete URL. No problem--Communicator has a good memory. Go to the Location box and enter www, then begin to enter the letters of the URL. 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 come up with the site you want.
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  • Tip # 2
    Sure, Communicator allows you to browse the Internet, but you can also access files or documents stored locally on your computer (or linked to an internal network). To do this, select File, Open Page (or press Ctrl-O), bringing 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 a specific plug-in to view some file types.
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  • Tip # 3
    One way to organize 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 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. Now when you're at a site you want to bookmark, just select Bookmarks, Add Bookmark to add the site automatically to the New Bookmarks folder. (This only works when you select Bookmarks, Add Bookmark, not when you drag the URL from the Location box to Bookmarks.)
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  • Tip # 4
    If you work in a shared computer environment--or if you just want to prevent snoopers from seeing your browsing habits--consider creating a private bookmark file. There are no fancy tricks here--just create a new bookmark file and name it something other than "bookmark.htm." Aim for an innocuous name such as "stuff," "things," or "there's nothing to look at here." To use your private file when you browse, select File, Open Page, then click Choose File and select the private bookmark file.
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  • Tip # 5
    Your Personal Toolbar allows you to put certain bookmarked sites right on your toolbar. That's pretty cool, but the best part is that Communicator lets you make any of your bookmark folders the Personal Toolbar. You can switch them anytime you want. To do this, open your bookmark file (Bookmarks, Edit Bookmarks), then highlight the folder you want to make the Personal Toolbar. Right-click it, then choose Set As Toolbar Folder from the Context menu. There's your new Personal Toolbar.
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  • Tip # 6
    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, so you can limit the folders the browser displays. To set the limit, open the bookmark file (select Bookmarks, Edit Bookmarks) and select the folder you want to display. Right-click, then select Set As Bookmark Menu from the context menu. Only this menu appears the next time you open the bookmark list, and you can change the folder anytime you want.
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  • Tip # 7
    Most bookmark files get so large that you lose track of what they contain. To find a long-lost or misplaced bookmark, open the bookmark file (Ctrl-B) and press Ctrl-F to bring up the Find Bookmark box. Enter the word, phrase, or URL for which you want to search in the Find field, then select the search criteria. As you see, you can search 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 it found no file.
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  • Tip # 8
    Why visit a Web site if it hasn't changed since 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, open your bookmark file (press Ctrl-B) and select View, Update Bookmarks, which opens the What's New dialog box. Choose either All Bookmarks or Selected Bookmarks (highlight these before opening the What's New box), then click Start Checking. Communicator searches the sites and indicates any that have changed since the last time you visited.
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  • Tip # 9
    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 in the Composition window and select Edit, Paste. The live link pastes into the message.
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  • Tip # 10
    Communicator includes a variety of ways to look at the contents of your bookmarks file. To get a new view, open the bookmark file (Ctrl-B) and choose View from the Communicator menu. As you can see, you can select the view--By Name, By Location, By Created On, or By Last Visited. Once you make the view choice, the bookmark file immediately reorganizes itself. If you have bookmarks in folders, they get organized within the folder in the manner that you selected.
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  • Tip # 11
    Want to edit one of your bookmarked sites? Open the bookmark file (Ctrl-B), select the bookmark, then right-click. From the context menu, choose Open Link In Composer. The Web page launches in Composer (Communicator's HTML editor). Of course, you won't be able to make changes to sites you don't own, but you can get an idea of how the site works.
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  • Tip # 12
    If you want to know 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 receive a confirming e-mail if it gets to your intended recipient.
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  • Tip # 13
    Cookies are files Web sites use to identify you each time you visit. The Web server generates cookies and stores them on your computer. They usually record information such as the sites you visit and what you do while you're there. For example, if you shop at an e-commerce site such as Amazon, the site gives you a cookie for each item you add to your "cart." Because of this, the site knows which items you have in the cart. Cookies are sometimes characterized as a security or privacy risk, but they're really pretty innocuous. Communicator gives you a couple of ways to handle cookies. Select Edit, Preferences, then click Advanced from the Category list. Under Cookies, you can choose to accept all cookies, accept them only if they get sent back to the originating server (not some other URL), or disable cookies. Unless you have a specific reason for concern, go ahead and accept them all. You also have the option to receive a warning before you accept a cookie, but beware if you choose this: You'll spend most of your Web site visit clicking the box to accept or deny the cookies.
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  • Tip # 14
    If you want to verify that a page really comes from the site it's supposed to, click the Security icon (it looks like a padlock and appears in the bottom left corner of the screen) when you have the page open. The Verification section tells you what site hosts the page. If this is not what you expected, be very careful about downloading anything from the site.
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  • Tip # 15
    When you access a secure site, the Security icon (it looks like a padlock and appears at the bottom left of the screen) changes to a locked position. When you click the icon, the Security Info page shows you the encryption information about the page. Click View Certificate to see information about the digital security certificate used to "sign" the document. The most important information here is to whom the certificate belongs and who issued it.
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  • Tip # 16
    A secure Internet document uses a process called encryption to scramble its contents, which prevents unauthorized users from seeing them. There are a few different types of encryption, and you can see the type a particular document uses in the Security Info page. To see this, click the Security icon (it looks like a padlock and appears in the bottom left corner of the screen) when you have a secure document open. Click Open Page Info, then look in the bottom frame for the Security field. This tells you the type of encryption used for the page.
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  • Tip # 17
    Communicator allows you to control how it notifies you about security issues. To set these options, click the Security icon (it looks like a padlock in the bottom left corner of the screen). When the Security Info page opens, click Navigator. As you see in the section Show A Warning Before, you can ask for a warning 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.
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  • Tip # 18
    When you access a secure Internet site, you accept its security certificate. The site saves this certificate on your system, and Communicator allows you to view it even if you are not connected to that 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 stored on your system. For example, you can opt to reject documents from a certificate holder if you don't like that holder. To see the certificates you have accepted, click the Security icon (it looks like a padlock and appears in the bottom left corner of the screen), then click Web Sites from the Certificates category. When you select a particular certificate, you can delete it, verify it (determine if it's still valid or expired), or edit it (set the actions Communicator takes when the certificate holder sends you a document). Just click the appropriate button to set these actions.
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  • Tip # 19
    Web sites and individual users have security certificates that special certifying authorities grant them. These certificates are called "signers." Their function is to check the identity of the site and make sure it assigns a unique digital certificate. Signers use these certificates to identify the certifying authorities, stored on your system. To get a look at your certificates, click the Security icon (it looks like a padlock and appears in the bottom left corner of the screen), 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.
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  • Tip # 20
    Communicator security allows you to encrypt e-mail messages for even better security. Encrypted messages are scrambled so no one can read them from the time they leave your computer until 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 Sending Options tab, then click the Encrypted option. The Security icon locks and its background turns yellowish.
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  • Tip # 21
    In most cases, in order to send an encrypted e-mail message you must already have received a signed message from the individual or site to which you want to send the message. You do not 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.
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  • Tip # 22
    Communicator can tell you whether you can encrypt a message. To find out, open the Message Center and create a new message. Make sure you address the message, then select Security from the Message Center menu (or click the Security icon at the bottom of the screen). The Security Info page for this message comes up and tells you whether you can encrypt and/or sign the message. Click OK to close the Security Info page and return to the composition window.
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  • Tip # 23
    You'll know right away if you have received a signed or encrypted message. The Security icon is locked if the message is encrypted, and there's a signed tag next to it if the message has a signature. The message itself also contains a special Encrypted And Signed (or it may be one or the other) icon within the message beside the header. 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 the validity of the digital signature. To see more about the certificate, click View.
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  • Tip # 24
    Communicator allows you to get a look at the source HTML code of any current Web page. Select View, Page Source from the main menu, and the underlying code appears in a Communicator Source window. If you want, however, you can bypass this default Source window and view the code in the window of another application, such as a text editor. This can give you more flexibility if you want to do anything with the source code. To set up an alternate source window, select Edit, Preferences, then click Applications to access the Applications panel. In the Descriptions window, select Hypertext Markup Language, then click Edit. Where it says Handled By, select Application, then click Browse. Choose the application that you want to handle the source window, then click OK. Click OK to close the Applications panel. Now when you choose View, Page Source, the HTML code appears in a window of the application you selected.
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  • Tip # 25
    If you come across a link that looks interesting, but you don't want to (or can't) take the time to open it, save the link as a file on your hard drive. It's easy. Place the mouse over the link and right-click, then choose Save Link As, which opens the Save As dialog box. Select the name and location of the file, then the file type. You can save the link as a source (HTML) or text file. If you save it in HTML, it keeps the format of the original page; if you save it as a text file, it looks like plain text, as you're saving the text without the HTML tags. Inline images (that is, those that form part of the page) won't appear, although you can save individual graphics as separate files. When you're done naming, click OK to save the file.
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  • Tip # 26
    Looking for an interesting discussion or a good argument? Want to know if anyone else shares your arcane interests? Netscape Communicator makes it easy to look for discussion groups on a particular server. To search for a discussion group, open the Message Center, then click the Join Groups icon, which opens the Subscribe To Discussion Groups dialog box. Click the Search For A Group tab. Enter a couple of keywords that correspond with your interests in the Search For field, then select the server in the Server field. Click Search Now, and any discussion groups that match your keywords appear in the Discussion Groups window. If you don't see what you want, try entering different keywords. If you do see a group you want to get in on, select it and click Subscribe. Click OK to close the box, and you're ready to discuss.
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  • Tip # 27
    Now that you've found some interesting discussion groups, you want to see what everyone's talking about. Click the Discussions icon to open the Message Center, then double-click an entry on your subscription list to see all the discussions. The discussion list should update automatically every time you access the list, but you can also select File, Get Messages, New to update at any time. It may take a few seconds for Netscape Communicator to get the messages from the server, but they eventually appear in a Discussions window. The list of messages appears in the top window, and when you select one to read, the body appears in the bottom window. It's usually a good idea to check out a few threads to see if the discussion group is one to which you want to contribute.
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  • Tip # 28
    Once you find a discussion you like, you'll probably want to get in on the act. To do this, open the Message Center and select the discussion group. The group messages appear in the Discussion window. You can post a new message or reply to one already on the list. To post a new message, click New Message, which opens the Composition window. Notice that the address of the group you have currently displayed appears in the address field. All you have to do is enter a subject (if you want), then a message in the Body window. Click Send, and the message posts to the group. To reply, click Reply, then select one of the four reply options (Sender, Sender And All Recipients, Group, or Sender And Group). The Composition window opens, with the selected addressing option in the address field. A reference to the original message appears in the Subject field. Once again, just enter your message in the Body window, then click Send.
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  • Tip # 29
    New discussion groups pop up all the time. The list of things people feel compelled to discuss over the Internet is seemingly unending and always different (if not always interesting). Netscape Communicator allows you to see the latest a server has to offer in the Subscribe To Discussion Groups dialog box. To see the new groups, open the Message Center and click Join Groups, which opens the aforementioned box. Click the New Groups tab. Select the server you want in the Server field, then click Get New. All new discussion groups on the server appear in the Discussion Groups window. Click Clear New to clear the list, and the next time you open the box, all groups added to the server since you cleared appear in the window. If you see a discussion you want to join, select it and click Subscribe. Click OK to close the dialog box and get back to the Message Center. The new discussion group begins downloading messages right away.
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  • Tip # 30
    Netscape Communicator offers a variety of ways to look at your discussions list. Open the Discussions window for one of your subscription groups and you see all the messages in the discussion list. It may look like a jumble, but there is a method to the madness. In fact, you can control the way messages appear in the window. To do this, select View, Sort, then select one of the many sorting options. The messages in the window immediately regroup according to your wishes.
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  • Tip # 31
    Your interests are bound to change, so you'll no doubt find it necessary to change discussion groups every now and again. No problem. To do this, open the Message Center and select the discussion group you want to dump. Press Delete, then click OK in the prompt box. This immediately purges the group from the Message Center. You can also do this from the Subscribe To Discussion Groups dialog box. Click Join Groups, which opens the box, then find the group name in the discussion groups window. If the group has a check, that means it's on your subscription list. Uncheck it to remove it. Click OK to close the box. Back in the Message Center, the group disappears.
     

 


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