Browsing tips for better productivity

You probably spend a good amount of your computing time within the confines of a web browser. But are you making the most of that time? You’re not if you are relying on the same old browser habits that you developed years ago. The good news: There are plenty of ways in which you can supercharge your web browsing without resorting to a bunch of tricks that you’ll likely forget. Read on to learn more.

** Discover caret browsing One of the best-kept secrets of both Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox is the caret browsing feature. Caret browsing essentially makes web pages more keyboard friendly -- and web surfing a lot more productive, particularly if you spend much time at all selecting and copying text or graphics from a website.

With caret browsing activated, a text cursor appears within any web page, and moving the cursor around and highlighting text and graphics are very similar to performing the same actions in a word processing document. In caret mode, the Tab key moves you from one major section of a web page to another, and the Enter key will activate any link on which the cursor is positioned.

You can activate (and de-activate) caret browsing by simply pressing the F7 key in both IE and Firefox. Google’s Chrome has a version of caret browsing that involves first selecting some text and then using the Shift and arrow keys to select more.

** Launch into full screen Most elements of web browsers -- menus, toolbars, status bars, and the like -- are useless clutter once you’ve landed on a page that you want to read. To get rid of the clutter, simply tap the F11 key. All of the major browsers will launch into “full screen” mode, showing you just your web page and none of the browser controls you don’t need. Press F11 again to return to the browser’s previous state.

With Internet Explorer, you can still access your menus with in full screen mode. Just use the keyboard shortcuts (Alt-F, Alt-E, and so on), and the menus will hover over the web page.

** Outsmart ads One of the biggest time-zappers while surfing the internet today is waiting for ads to load -- or waiting for them to leave you alone so that you can get to the content you need.

You can get rid of most ads altogether in a couple of ways. First, if you’re a Firefox user, head straight for Adblock Plus ( Install this plugin, and in no time bothersome ads will be a distant memory. This plugin can’t zap all ads, but it takes care of most of them. Chrome users also now have a beta version of Adblock plus ( that they can try.

If you’re using IE, try Ad Muncher (, which is also compatible with most other browsers.

** Use the keyboard Think about the operations you perform repeatedly in your browser using the mouse. There are probably keyboard shortcuts for most of them that can save you a lot of time.

Do you frequently return to your home page, for example? Hold down the Alt key and tap Home (Alt-Home) Need to find something on a web page? Ctrl-F activates the Find box. Need a new tab? Ctrl-T takes care of it. And how about switching among open tabs? Ctrl—Tab does the trick. These tricks work in all of the major browsers.

** Try a form filler Web forms are everywhere these days, and most of them ask for the same information: your name, address, e-mail address, and perhaps your credit card if you’re purchasing something. Make short work of entering all of that information by enlisting the help of a form filler. The two best ones are LastPass ( and RoboForm (


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