Netscape Navigator Tips and Tricks
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Many Netscape Navigator users discover that they want to startup Netscape with their mail or news windows, rather than the browser window. No problem; all you have to do is select Options|General Preferences, which opens the Preferences dialog box, then click the "Appearance" tab. For the "On Startup Launch" option click either "Netscape Mail" or "Netscape News." Click "OK" to close the Preferences box and save the settings. Now the next time you start Netscape, it launches with the option you selected. Now, if you want, you can also select more than one (or all three) of the options. This means that all the selected options open when you start Netscape, with one maximized in the window and the others minimized.



You're deep into a site with frames and your significant other calls. After a long, flirtatious conversation, you return to Netscape and wonder if the frame has been updated. You click Reload. Doh! The page reloads at the top frame instead of where you were. Next time, instead of clicking the Reload button, pull down the Edit menu and choose Reload Frame.


Don't reach al-l-l-l the way up to the toolbar to click the Back button. Just right-click on any  page and a pop-up menu will appear offering an easy way back. With this menu, you can also bookmark the current page or create a Windows desktop icon for the current page.




Do you often share groovy links with others? Web URLs can be a pain to transcribe, especially those really long ones. If you write it down or type it, you might make a mistake. A better solution is to copy the URL to the clipboard and paste it into your e-mail message or word  processor. If you're accustomed to doing this by highlighting the URL in the Location field and choosing Copy from the Edit menu, you're doing it the long, hard way. See that little chain icon to
 the left of the Location field? Just double click that, and you'll put the current page's URL in the  clipboard. Now, paste it where you like.



OK, you're at the coolest page in the world and you find a bunch of links you want to check out. But you want to leave the cool page onscreen and open up a new link in a new browser window. Well, you could pull down the File menu and choose New Web Browser and go from there. But you're too cool for that. No, what you do is right-click the link and choose Open In New Window.



Are you on the fence about whether or not to upgrade to Netscape Communicator? You can read all about the features Communicator offers and find out if Communicator is for you at


Want to look at an image all by its lonesome? Right click on any image and choose View Image. There's your solitary graphic. 


Windows applications often include menu shortcuts that allow you to activate an item by pressing a keyboard letter (while the menu itself is active). The shortcut letter is underlined in the Menu item. For example, in Netscape, you can choose the File menu's Print command by pressing Alt+F+P.

Here's a way to add the same underline shortcut to Netscape Navigator bookmarks. First, select Bookmarks|Go to Bookmarks from the Navigator menu, which opens the Bookmarks window. Highlight a bookmark, click the right mouse button, then select the option "Properties" from the floating menu that appears. Edit the bookmark name (in the field "Name") by inserting an ampersand ("&") before the letter that you want to make a shortcut. For instance, if you wanted to give TipWorld the keyboard shortcut "T," you'd type the ampersand just before the "T" in TipWorld.

Click "OK" to close the Properties box, the close the Bookmarks window. Now select Bookmarks from the Navigator menu. Ta-da! The letter in the bookmark item that you preceded with the ampersand is underlined. Press this letter with the Bookmarks menu active, and the link activates. Or, simply press Alt+B+T at any time to call up TipWorld.


Often when you download a file, you get a dialog box called "Unknown File Type." All this means is that no helper application or special action has been configured for the file type in question. You can configure Netscape Navigator to handle these files automatically. To set this up, click the More Info button in the dialog box. You can also configure an application that will run the file right away once it's downloaded. To do this, click the Pick App button. Your other option is to save the file without running it right away. To do this, click Save File, then save the file to your computer's hard disk.



When you go out on the Internet and get files via FTP, you'll probably notice that many files are compressed. We don't need to get into the technical details of file compression, but let's just say it involves some very sophisticated ways to make files as small as possible. What you do need to know, however, is that most compressed files must be decompressed before they're usable. The compressed file is really only good for storage and transferring. The only exceptions are compressed sound and graphic files, which you can hear or see without running a decompression program. Netscape Navigator, in fact, automatically decompresses them. So, in order to decompress files that need it, you must get a compression/decompression program. One of the best is WinZip 6, which you can get by accessing Follow the instructions on the WinZip home page to download a copy. (Note: You can download and try WinZip free of charge. If you decide to keep and use the program, it costs $29. Volume discounts are available.)


If you're at a Web site and see the error message "Connection reset by peer," chances are that the remote host has reset your connection. You can usually click Reload to get back on track and bring up the URL normally.



If you want to quickly highlight everything available on a Web page, press Ctrl-A from the keyboard. All that's "selectable" is selected, making it easy to copy to the clipboard (for example).



To get to the very end of a Web page in Navigator, press Ctrl-End from the keyboard. To get to the start press Ctrl-Home.




Although Netscape Navigator remains very cool, aren't you just a little tired of that capital "N" getting showered by meteors every time you do something? Well, suffer no longer--you can replace that little icon with yet another "throbber." (Don't you just love these technical terms?) There's a way cool site called Throbbers at that gives you the lowdown on how to do this and provides the throbber material. Check it out.


On Friday, we told you about a site that sports a lot of nifty graphics, called "throbbers" that  you can use to replace the pulsating "N" in Netscape Navigator. Unfortunately, in the days between when we checked out the site and when the tip ran on Friday, the site disappeared. (We know we weren't hallucinating because we had a spiffy yin/yang throbber on our browser when we woke up this morning--unless that, too, is an hallucination.) To all of those of you who went to the site in vain, we apologize. When the site reappears, we'll let you know. Thanks to all of you who took the time to let us know the site was no longer there.


Plug-ins have rapidly become essential Netscape Navigator extras. These are the extra programs that integrate with Navigator to do things that it can't on its own. Lately so many plug-in programs have come on the scene that it makes your head spin. The next few tips will let you know what you really need. The first and most absolutely essential plug-in is Shockwave. More and more sites are involving interactive activities that are built with Shockwave. Most of these fall into the "cool" entertainment site category, but some are actually quite useful. The bottom line: Get Shockwave now. There are several versions now, so you can find the one you want at


You fans of Joe Hughes' "throbbers" -- those way-cool "N" substitutes -- will be glad to know that his site is once again working properly. Joe sent us this note:

"...Unfortunately, the Carnegie Mellon University server to which you provided a link went down on Friday, for unknown reasons. However, I am happy to report that the server is back up and running, and the link that you gave, is once again operational.

Joe Hughes
Curator, Throbbers!"

Thanks for letting us know, Joe, and thanks to all of you who also wrote in to say the site was working over the weekend. Now, get out there and pulsate!



Have you ever browsed from site to site, then suddenly found that your Back Button is grayed out, preventing you from backing to the previous site? This likely happens because Navigator supports the Target element in HTML, which is used to open separate browser windows. If you have your browser window at full size, the second window sits on top of the first, thereby obscuring it. You don't even know you have the second window open. If you suspect this is the case, press Ctrl-Tab to cycle through the currently open Navigator windows. You can also resize or move the second window or just close it.


Press Tab when in a Web page or frame to move around the links in the page.


When you install Shockwave (, you'll probably be asked to install the plug-ins for Director, FreeHand, Authorware, or all three. You should install all three if you want to get the full range of graphics, multimedia, and interactive applications that are developed for the Web with Macromedia products.



Audio-streaming technology makes it possible to listen to the radio over the Internet. There are several audio-streaming plug-ins out there, but RealAudio was there first and remains the best and most widely used. Now that streaming video is on the scene, RealAudio has been upgraded to handle that, with the moniker, RealPlayer. To get the Real deal, visit the Real Media site at


The Internet cyber world involves way more than simple two-dimensional text and graphics. In fact, it's pretty commonplace to travel to 3D virtual worlds and work with 3D objects. You need a plug-in to allow you to do this, and most Netscape Navigator packages now include Live 3D. This technology is changing pretty rapidly, however, so you should make sure you have the latest and greatest version. You can find out more at the Netscape home site at


Video over the Internet doesn't exactly compare to viewing video images on TV. The size of the files can be prohibitive and not always worth the time it takes to download. But there are some really good video files that you may not find anywhere else, so it makes sense to have a video plug-in. The top dog here is QuickTime, which lets you not only see video clips, but also music, MIDI, and audio files. Most of the Web sites that offer video, including such major media sites as CNN, use the QuickTime format. You can get QuickTime at


Many publishers use a format called PDF that provides an electronic equivalent of traditional paper format publications. In order to use this you need a PDF viewer. The best out there is called PDFViewer, which comes as part of a product called Adobe Acrobat Reader. Once installed, you can read PDF files from within the Netscape Navigator browser. Adobe Acrobat Reader is available for downloading at



What's that extra "s" for? If you see a URL that begins with "https" you know it's located on a server that runs Netscape's Internet security standard, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). This means that you are assured the transaction between you and the server is secure. You can also look at the key icon in the lower left corner of the browser window. If this is solid with a blue background, you know you are connected to a secure server. If it's broken, the server is not secure.


Netscape Navigator can warn you whenever you transmit information across the Internet without security. To set this, choose Options|Security Preferences and click on the General tab. Check the Submitting a Form Insecurely option from the section, Show an Alert Before. If you're planning on doing any online shopping at all, you should always have this checked.


The Netscape Navigator Security Preferences box has a section at the bottom that lets you select the version of SSL you want to use (SSL v2 or SSL v3). These ensure that any information you enter on SSL-protected Web pages is encrypted. Both should be checked by default, and you should leave it that way. Messing around with these settings without knowing what you're doing can damage your security protocols.


Much of Netscape security is justifiably directed at keeping transactions over the Internet secure. Don't overlook the importance, however, of keeping your own work space secure, particularly if you're in a situation in which others may have access to your computer. To set your password, choose Options|Security Preferences, then click on the Passwords tab. You can set your password here and select how often you want to be asked for the password.


Press Ctrl-Alt-T to display a dialog box that provides information about your active URLs. This can be useful for troubleshooting access or other URL problems.


Remember to clear out your cache every now and again, especially if you find that your performance is slowing down. To clear the memory cache, open Navigator, choose Options|Network Preferences and select the Cache tab. Click on the Clear Memory Cache Now button, then click on OK from the confirmation box that appears. Once the memory cache is cleaned out, things should continue humming along.


The Location box keeps a list of the most recently visited URLs, allowing you to quickly access them without re-entering the URL. You may want to clear this list periodically, which you can do if you have Windows, although the method varies according to your Windows version. Be warned, however, that if you make a mistake when working with these internal Windows files, you can wreak havoc with your system. Use extreme caution when making these changes. Here's how:

Windows 3.1 and 3.11
First, make sure that Navigator is closed before you do anything. Next, using Notepad, open the NETSCAPE.INI file. You'll probably find it in the C:\WINDOWS directory or the directory where you stored Netscape Navigator. Scroll down the file until you find the section (URL History). Each item on the Location list is represented by the lines


and so on. Delete the URL address part of the line (whatever comes after the equal sign). Close the file and be sure to save your changes. Start up Navigator again and the Location list is clear.

Windows 95 and NT
You must edit the Windows Registry to clear the Location list here. This is not difficult, but it can be dangerous if you edit the wrong entries. Play it safe by backing up your current system before doing anything to the Registry. Also make sure that Navigator is closed before you do anything. Now, if you have Windows 95 or Windows NT 4.0, click on Start and choose Run. Then double-click on HKEY_CURRENT_USER. (If you have Windows NT 3.51, select File|Run in Program Manager, enter REGEDT32.EXE, and go to the HKEY_CURRENT_USER window.) In the HKEY_CURRENT_USER tree, open Software, then Netscape, then Netscape Navigator, then URL History. When you do, the Location box URL entries appear in the right side window. Delete any entry except (Default), then close the Registry. When you start up Navigator again, the Location list is cleared.


If you absolutely must have the latest version of whatever pages you access through the Web, make sure you set your Navigator to check for document revisions every time. To do this, choose Options|Network Preferences and click on the Cache tab; then select the option Every Time. This means Navigator will check for revisions every time you retrieve the document, rather than using a cached version. Of course, this may slow your performance, so use it only when you must.


Press Ctrl-Alt-S to turn the status bar on or off (that's the bar at the bottom of the Navigator screen that contains security, document, and mailbox status).


Want some quick JavaScript? Enter "javascript:", "livescript:", or "mocha:" (without the quotes) in the Location box. The page that displays is a field where you can enter lines of JavaScript code, which Navigator interprets immediately.


This one's just for fun. Press Ctrl-Alt-F and you access the infamous Netscape "FishCam" page.


Enter "about:" (without the quotes) in the Location box and you get information about your Netscape software.


When you enter "about:document" (without the quotes) in the Location box, you access a page that contains information about the page you have loaded currently.



There are two ways to find out if you have a plug-in installed correctly. You can either choose Help|About Plug-ins, or enter "about:plugins" (without the quotes) in the Location box. Either way you get a list of all the plug-ins that are recognized by your copy of Navigator, including the file name and location of the plug-ins on your computer, the data types supported by each plug-in, and any other information provided by the plug-in developers. If you've just installed a plug-in, it should show up on the page. If you don't see it, try downloading the file again or installing it again. ?



In addition to Personal Certificates, Netscape Navigator uses Site Certificates to enhance security. Essentially, in order to operate securely, a Web server must get a special certificate, and then it sends you a copy of the certificate information when you connect through SSL. To see this information choose Options|Security Preferences, then click on the Site Certificates tab. The information here enables you to make sure that any data you send goes only to the certificate owner. You can also specify if you want to allow connections to the owners of specific Site Certificates, or to sites that certain certifying authorities have certified. To do any of this, select the Site Certificate from the list and click on Edit Certificate.

Netscape's SSL protocol allows Web documents to contain both secure and insecure data. If you access such a document through a secure server--using the "https" URL--the insecure information is hidden and replaced with an icon that indicates mixed security. If you want to access this insecure information, connect to the same address, but use the regular "http"URL.


When you view a secure document in Netscape Navigator, the number of teeth on the key icon indicates the type of encryption used. If there are two teeth, the document uses high-grade encryption, which cannot be exported from the U.S. to other countries. If it has one tooth, it uses low-grade encryption, which is allowed for U.S. export.

Personal Certificates are another way that Netscape Navigator keeps things secure. These are electronic keys that identify you to a secure server. Essentially, they tell the server that you are indeed you. To find out more about Personal Certificates and how to obtain them, open Netscape Navigator (make sure you are connected to the Internet), then choose Options|Security Preferences and click on the Personal Certificates tab. To obtain one, click on Obtain New Certificate and follow all the necessary steps.

VeriSign is the current Certifying Authority for Personal Certificates, and you can obtain Personal Certificates directly from the company (rather than going through the Security Preferences options). The address is:



Our last tip told you not to worry about secure information being cached on your hard drive. However, getting secure documents can be a low process, because a fresh document is retrieved every time. So, if you are very sure your computer is safe from a hard drive hack, you can tell Navigator to cache SSL documents. To do this, open Navigator and choose Options|Network Preferences, then click on the Cache tab. At the bottom of the tab, check the option, Allow Persistent Caching of Pages Retrieved Through SSL. Your secure pages will get through more quickly, but you may risk a security breach.

This page is designed and written by John Jenkins. If there are any questions or other issues about the content, email me, and I will deal with it in a timely manner. If specific help is requested an email address with an or domain is required. As with all programs on the internet, you, the downloader, assumes all risk of file damage or viruses that these or any programs may contain that are received over the internet. Neither CSS, ECS, nor the author will be responsible for any damage done by any program received over the internet. Please note this includes programs that are virus free but may cause problems with other programs on your computer and programs that simply won't run right on a particular machine.