What’s A Browser?

Web browsers, or browsers for short, aren’t strictly an email related topic. However, the browser has become an important tool to most email users because of the proliferation of web-based (browser-based) email clients. Many email users have never used a stand-alone email client and have always processed their email using a browser-based client.

The best known browsers are:

You are almost certainly using at least one of these.

The Wikipedia Web Browser article has this to say about browsers:

A web browser is a software application for retrieving, presenting, and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web. An information resource is identified by a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) and may be a web page, image, video, or other piece of content.[1] Hyperlinks present in resources enable users to easily navigate their browsers to related resources.

In other words, the browser is used for about 90% of the stuff you do on your computer. Watching videos on YouTube? Browser. Facebook? Browser. Downloading music?  Online poker games?  Checking out porn?. Browser.

You get the picture.

What Browser Am I Using?

A browser is like your Internet car. When you want to go somewhere on the web you fire up your browser and it takes you there. And, just like a car, it helps to know the year, make and model (version number in computer terms) if you need to take it in for service.

If you want to know which browser you are using right now (that’s right, you couldn’t get here without a browser) you can ask it:

In Windows you can click Help >> About in the File menu:

help about

Actually, you can just click Help because the first item in the Help menu will be the name of the browser plus “Help”. You can do the same thing with a Mac except that the File menu is at the top of the screen instead of at the top of the window.

The nice thing about Help >> About is that you get the exact version number and if you’re talking to tech support this can be very helpful. On a Mac you get the version for a browser a little differently:

about firefox

This also shows that, on a Mac, you can find out which browser you’re using by looking at the leftmost item on the menu bar (well, except for the Apple Menu.) You can do the same thing in Windows by looking at the rightmost item in the program Title Bar (the blue part at the top in the Windows example above) but this assumes that the site doesn’t have a really long title that pushes the name of the browser off screen.

Now that you know everything that there is to know about browsers (we’re assuming you read the Wikipedia article too) you will be able to confidently answer, right down to the version number the next time somebody in tech support asks “Which browser are you using?”

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