Cami has a question:  “Thanks so much for todays article; Back to basics; Understanding the term OS. I’m sorry to say that , before reading your article; I didn’t know my answer to that questions, but now, thanks to you, I do! I was wondering if you could explain the terms “browser”: I assume that is the cable company that provides my internet service: Which would be Comcast, right? Thanks again for all your tech tips; I read them all everyday, and have learned so much!

I’ve been wanting to address this topic. From some of the questions I get, I can see there’s some confusion as to exactly what the term “browser” means. I’ve heard from folks that thought it referred to their mouse pointer and others who get the term confused with their operating system.

taskbar-browsers

To answer your question, “browser” does not refer to the company who provides your Internet service. That is what’s known as your Internet service provider or ISP. So there’s another tech vocabulary-building term for you. Comcast is your ISP.

The term browser refers to a program that you use to access the Internet and view websites. It’s called a browser because it enables you to browse around the Internet.

Browsers convert all of the data that makes up websites into a format that’s easy to view and navigate.  The first browser was invented in 1990. Microsoft introduced Internet Explorer in 1995. Let’s take a look at a typical browser. The screen shot below is from Internet Explorer.

ie-full-screenshot

Most browsers will feature and address bar at the top to let you know just where you are on the web.

ie-address-bar

You’ll also usually see the option to save frequently visited sites as bookmarks or favorites to allow you quick and easy access.

If you access your e-mail on the web via a webmail interface, you’re using a browser to access your mail.

yahoo-inbox

Currently, the most popular browsers are Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Microsoft Edge (only found in Windows 10.)

Here’s the icon for Internet Explorer.

ie-icon

Chrome…

chrome-icon

Firefox…

firefox-icon

and Microsoft Edge (only available in Windows 10).

windows-10-edge-icon

There are also quite a few people using the AOL browser as well.

Each of these browsers have their own strengths and weaknesses. The good news is that most of them are available as a free download and it’s perfectly fine to have multiple browsers on your computer and use them interchangeably if one particular browser happens to work better for a particular task.

Nearly any time you go to the Internet or any website at all on your PC, you’re using a browser.

Your tablet and smartphone also feature browsers.  For Android phones you usually have the stock Android browser or Google Chrome. For iPhones and iPads, you’ll use Safari.

I hope this clears things up.  If there are any tech or PC terms you hear used a lot, but you aren’t sure what they mean, please let us know in the comments.

~ Cynthia