Easy Computer Basics, Windows 10 Edition (2016)
Chapter 10. Using the Internet
It used to be that most people bought personal computers primarily to do work with productivity software—word processing, spreadsheets, databases, that sort of thing. But today, many people also buy PCs to access the Internet—to send and receive email, surf the Web, and keep in touch with Facebook and other social media.
If you’re using your notebook or tablet PC on the road, accessing the Internet is as easy as finding a public Wi-Fi hotspot, like the kind offered at Starbucks, McDonald’s, and other businesses. Of course, if you’re at home, you access the Internet from your home wireless network. You connect your computer to the hotspot or wireless network, which then connects you to the Internet. Easy.
However you go online, you use a web browser, such as Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome, to browse that part of the Internet called the World Wide Web. (Or just Web, for short.) Information on the Web is presented in web pages, each of which contains text, graphics, and links to other web pages. A web page resides at a website, which is nothing more than a collection of web pages. The main page of a website is called the home page, which serves as an opening screen that provides a brief overview and a sort of menu of everything you can find at that site.
Connecting to an Internet Wi-Fi Hotspot
If you have a notebook PC, you have the option to connect to the Internet when you’re out and about. Many coffeehouses, libraries, hotels, and public spaces offer wireless Wi-Fi Internet service, either free or for an hourly or daily fee.
On the taskbar, click the Connections button to display the Connections pane.
You see a list of available wireless networks. Click the network to which you want to connect.
Note: Wireless Hotspots
A hotspot is a public place that offers wireless access to the Internet using Wi-Fi technology. Some hotspots are free for all to access; others require some sort of payment.
Note: Finding the Wi-Fi Signal
When you’re near a Wi-Fi hotspot, your PC should automatically pick up the Wi-Fi signal. Just make sure that the Wi-Fi adapter in your computer is turned on (some notebooks have a switch for this, either on the front or on the side of the unit), and then follow these directions to find and connect to the nearest hotspot.
This expands the panel; click Connect to connect to the selected hotspot.
If the hotspot has free public access, you can now open your web browser and surf normally. If the hotspot requires a password, payment, or some other logon procedure, Windows should automatically open your web browser and display the hotspot’s logon page. Enter the appropriate information to begin surfing.
Tip: Airplane Mode
If you’re using your notebook or tablet on an airplane and don’t want to use the plane’s wireless Internet service (if available), you can switch to Airplane mode so that you can use your computer while in the air. To switch into Airplane mode, click the Connections button on the taskbar to open the Connections pane, and then click the Airplane Mode tile. You can switch off Airplane mode when your plane lands.
Web Browsing with Microsoft Edge
You can use any web browser to visit websites online. Windows 10 comes with a new web browser called Microsoft Edge. You can also use browsers from other companies, including Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. They all work in similar ways, but this chapter’s examples use Microsoft Edge.
Open Microsoft Edge and enter a web page address into the Address box. (You may need to click near the top of the browser to display the Address box.)
As you type, Edge displays a list of suggested pages. Click one of these pages or finish entering the web page address and press Enter.
Tip: Downloading Other Web Browsers
Most other web browsers are free and can be easily downloaded over the Internet (using Microsoft Edge or another web browser). To download Google Chrome, go to www.google.com/chrome/. To download Mozilla Firefox, go to www.mozilla.org/firefox/.
Tip: Start Page
Microsoft Edge lets you set a start page that automatically opens whenever you launch the browser. (Edge’s default Start page displays a list of your Top Sites and a Bing search box.) To set a new start page, click the More Actions (three-dot) button and click Settings. When the Settings pane appears, go to the Open With section and select A Specific Page or Pages. Click the page list, select Custom, and then enter the URL of the page you want into the Enter a Web Address box.
To return to the previous web page, click the Back (left arrow) button beside the Address box.
To reload or refresh the current page, click the Refresh button.
Pages on the Web are linked via clickable hyperlinks. Click a link to display the linked-to page.
Note: Internet Explorer
Microsoft Edge replaces the Internet Explorer web browser, which was the default browser included with previous versions of Windows. Edge is a faster and more modern browser, compatible with more of today’s state-of-the-art websites.
Tip: Revisit History
To view a list of pages you’ve recently visited, click the Hub (three-line) button and select the History (timer) tab. Click the page you want to revisit.
Saving Favorite Pages
All web browsers let you save or bookmark your favorite web pages. In Microsoft Edge, you do this by adding pages to the Favorites list.
Navigate to the web page you want to add to your Favorites list, and then click the Favorites (star) icon in the Address box.
Click to select the Favorites tab.
Confirm or enter a name for this page.
Click the Add button.
Tip: Favorites Folders
You can organize your favorite pages into separate folders in the Favorites list. After you click the Favorites icon, select a folder from the Create In list or click Create New Folder to create a new folder.
Tip: Reading View
Some web pages are overly cluttered with advertisements and other distracting elements. To display a web article with just text and accompanying pictures, click the Reading View button on the Edge toolbar. This removes the unnecessary elements and makes reading easier.
Returning to a Favorite Page
To return to a page you’ve saved as a favorite, open the Favorites list and make a selection.
Click the Hub button to display the Hub panel.
Click the Favorite (star) tab to display your Favorites list.
Click the page you want to revisit.
Tip: Favorites Bar
For even faster access to your favorite pages, display the Favorites bar at the top of the browser window, under the Address bar. Click the More Actions button and select Settings to display the Settings page, and then set the Show the Favorites Bar control to the On position.
Tip: Web Notes
If you’re doing research on the Web, you might want to mark up a given web page with notes, highlights, and such. You can do this with Edge’s Web Notes tool. Click the Make a Web Note button to display the Web Notes toolbar; use the appropriate markup tool to make your notes.
Opening Multiple Pages in Tabs
Most web browsers, including Microsoft Edge, let you display multiple web pages as separate tabs, and thus easily switch between web pages. This is useful when you want to reference different pages or want to run web-based applications in the background.
To open a new tab, click the + next to the last open tab.
To switch tabs, click the tab you want to view.
Click the X on the current tab to close it.
Tip: Anonymous Browsing
If you want to browse anonymously, without any traces of your history recorded, activate Edge’s InPrivate Browsing mode in a new browser window. Click the More Actions button and then select New InPrivate Window.
Searching the Web with Google
You can find just about anything you want online by using a web search engine. The most popular search engine today is Google (www.google.com), which indexes billions of individual web pages. Google is very easy to use and returns extremely accurate results.
Go to www.google.com.
Enter one or more keywords into the Search box.
Press Enter or click the Google Search button.
When the results are displayed, click any page link to view that page.
Tip: Fine-Tune Search Results
You can fine-tune your results by using the search tools located at the top of the search results page. Click Search Tools and select to filter by time, location, and other criteria.
Tip: Microsoft Bing
Microsoft offers its own competing search engine, dubbed Bing. You can search Bing at www.bing.com. Bing also powers the search within the Cortana virtual assistant, which is discussed in the next section.
Smart Searching with Cortana
Windows 10 includes a virtual personal assistant, called Cortana, that can help you search for files on your computer and information on the Web. You can query Cortana by typing into the search box on the taskbar, or with voice commands by speaking into your computer’s microphone.
Click within the Ask Me Anything search box in the taskbar and begin typing your query.
As you type, Cortana displays items that match your query in the results pane. This might include apps and files on your computer, as well as results from the Web. Click an item to display or open it.
Tip: Voice Commands
If your computer has a built-in microphone, or if you have a microphone connected to your computer, you can control Cortana with voice commands. Click the microphone within the Cortana search box or speak, “Hey, Cortana,” into your computer’s microphone, followed by whatever it is you’re asking.
To display news items, stock prices, weather conditions, and other items personal to you, click within the search box to display the Cortana pane.
To personalize which content Cortana displays, click the Notebook icon and then click the content you want to customize.
To see reminders, click the Reminders tab.
Click the + to set a new reminder.
Tip: Virtual Assistant
The more you use Cortana, the more it will learn about you and display information you find useful. You can use Cortana to track weather conditions, traffic conditions, stock prices, airline flights, and more.
Tip: Cortana in Edge
You can also use Cortana to display more information about a given topic from within the Edge browser. Highlight a word or phrase on a web page, right-click, and select Ask Cortana. You now see a Cortana pane within Edge displaying additional information.
The Internet is a great place to buy things, from books to clothing to household items to cars. Online shopping is safe and convenient—all you need is your computer and a credit card.
Find an online store that sells the item you’re shopping for.
Search or browse for the product you like.
Tip: Traditional Retailers Online
Most brick-and-mortar retailers have equivalent online stores. For example, you can shop at Target online at www.target.com, or Macy’s online at www.macys.com. Most catalog merchants also have their own websites where you can order online.
Tip: Online-Only Retailers
Many big online-only retailers sell a variety of merchandise. The most popular of these include Amazon.com (www.amazon.com) and Overstock.com (www.overstock.com).
Examine the product by viewing the photos and information on the product listing page.
Order the product by clicking a Buy It Now or Add to Cart button on the product listing page. This puts the item in your online shopping cart.
Check out by entering your shipping and payment (credit card) information.
Tip: In-Stock Items
The better online retailers tell you either on the product description page or during the checkout process whether an item is in stock. Look for this information to help you decide how to group your items for shipment.
Tip: Shop Safely
The safest way to shop online is to pay via credit card, because your credit card company offers various consumer protections. (Smaller merchants might accept credit cards via PayPal or a similar online payment service; this is also acceptable.) Also make sure that the retailer you buy from has an acceptable returns policy, just in case.
Buying Items on Craigslist
When you’re looking to buy something locally, you can often find great bargains on Craigslist (www.craigslist.org), an online classified advertising site. Browse the ads until you find what you want, and then arrange with the seller to make the purchase.
Go to www.craigslist.org.
Click the name of your city or state.
Go to the For Sale section and click the category you’re looking for.
Note: Classified Ads
Listings on Craigslist are just like traditional newspaper classified ads. All transactions are between you and the seller; Craigslist is just the “middleman.”
Tip: Contacting the Seller
When you contact the seller via email, let him know you’re interested in the item and would like to see it in person. The seller should reply with a suggested time and place to view and possibly purchase the item.
Click the link or picture for the item you’re interested in.
Read the item details, and then click the Reply button to email the seller and express your interest.
Tip: Pay in Cash
When you purchase an item from a Craigslist seller, expect to pick up the item in person and pay in cash.
Caution: Buyer Beware
Just as with traditional classified ads, Craigslist offers no buyer protections. Make sure you inspect the item before purchasing!
Selling Items on Craigslist
The Craigslist site is also a great place to sell items you want to get rid of. Just place an ad and wait for potential buyers to contact you!
From the Craigslist site, click the Post to Classifieds link.
Click the type of ad you want to place—typically For Sale by Owner.
Click the category that best fits what you’re selling. (If necessary, click through to an appropriate subcategory.)
Depending on where you live, you might be prompted to select a more exact location than just the larger metropolitan area.
Note: Contact Email
For your protection, Craigslist displays an anonymized email address in your item listing. Buyers email this anonymous address and the emails are forwarded to your real email address.
Enter the necessary details about what you’re selling, including the listing title, asking price, and description, and then click Continue.
You are now prompted to add pictures of your item. (Items sell better if buyers can see what’s for sale, although such photos are optional.) Click the Add Images button to select digital photos of your item.
Click the Done with Images button.
Confirm the listing details, and then click the Publish button to finalize the listing.
Caution: Safety First
Make sure someone else is with you before you invite potential buyers into your home to look at the item you have for sale—or arrange to meet buyers at a safe neutral location.
Tip: Other Services
The Craigslist site isn’t just for buying and selling merchandise. You can also use Craigslist to look for or offer services, jobs, and housing.