Browsing the Web with Internet Explorer for Mac OS X

Several Web browsers are available for Mac OS X. These include Internet Explorer, iCab, Netscape, and OmniWeb. Because Internet Explorer is the default Web browser for Mac OS X and is a very powerful and feature-rich application, this chapter focuses on it. The other browsers work similarly, so after you use Internet Explorer, you can use one of the others without too much trouble.

To learn about the other browsers, see "Using Other Mac OS X Web Browsers," p. 364.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer has long been the Web browser of choice for many Mac users. It offers excellent features and is easy to use and customize to suit the way you work (see Figure 13.1). Throughout this chapter, you will explore much of Internet Explorer's functionality.

Figure 13.1. Internet Explorer has been carbonized for Mac OS X and continues to offer excellent features.


This chapter covers Internet Explorer version 5.2.2, which was the version that was included in the standard Mac OS X installation. Later versions might offer slightly different features and the interface might look a bit different from the figures in this chapter, but the basic tasks you do will be the same.

You can update your copy of Internet Explorer by visiting


Click the Internet Explorer icon in the right end of the Button bar to move to the Internet Explorer Web site.

Because you are reading this book, I assume that you are quite comfortable with the basics of using Internet Explorer, such as using its buttons, navigating the Web by entering URLs in the Address bar, setting and using favorites, and so on. In this section, you will learn about some of the tasks for which you use Internet Explorer that might not be quite so obvious.

Storing Information Using Internet Explorer's Scrapbook

The Web is a dynamic place; Web sites you visit are constantly changing, and sometimes the information you access (such as a receipt for an online purchase) is temporary and will disappear as soon as you leave the page. Other pages will be so useful that you will want to be able to store them so that you can return to the information on them at any time.

Internet Explorer's Scrapbook feature enables you to do just that. With the Scrapbook, you can save a page you are visiting so that you can view it at any time in the future. Think of using the Scrapbook as taking a snapshot of a Web site at a specific point in time and you'll get the idea. You access the Scrapbook pane with the Scrapbook tab of the Explorer bar.

  1. Move to a page you want to save.

  2. Click the Scrapbook tab along the left side of the Internet Explorer window and you will see the Scrapbook pane. This pane shows you all the pages you have saved. The pane works very similarly to the Favorites pane. You can organize the pages on it by placing them in folders, adding dividing lines, and so on.


    Scrapbook pages are marked with the camera icon to indicate that they are snapshots of a page at a particular moment in time.

  3. Click Add and the page you are visiting will be saved in the Scrapbook.

  4. Click the Scrapbook tab to close the pane.

When you want to return to a page in your Scrapbook, simply open the pane and click the page you want to view.


One of the best uses of the Scrapbook is to save pages that provide account information for various Web sites you use. Another great use is to save information about a product you are considering purchasing so that you can easily compare different products.

Using Internet Explorer's Page Holder

When you are looking at a page, you might want to follow many of the links on it. In fact, some pages are primarily link holders and don't contain very much information in themselves. Internet Explorer's Page Holder enables you to move the linking page to the Page Holder pane. Then, you can click the links and see the results in the right pane of the Internet Explorer window while the page you are exploring remains in the Page Holder pane. This prevents you from having to move back and forth among the pages (which can be a real pain when you move several layers deep on a page you are visiting).

  1. Move to the page that contains links you want to follow.

  2. Click the Page Holder tab to open the Page Holder pane. This pane looks and works similarly to the other panes.

  3. Click Add. The page you are viewing is "moved" into the Page Holder pane and you can view it there (see Figure 13.2).

    Figure 13.2. You can add a page to the Page Holder pane to make links on that page easier to follow (in this figure, the Macworld Home page is in the Page Holder while an article linked to it is in the right pane).


  4. Click a link in the Page Holder area. You will see the resulting page in the right part of the Internet Explorer window. You can view this page and the links on it just like any other Web page.

  5. Click the Page Holder tab to close the pane so that you have more room to view the page you opened.

  6. When you want to move to another link, click the Page Holder tab to open the Page Holder pane, click a link, and read the resulting page in the main Internet Explorer pane. (Again, you might want to close the Page Holder pane to make viewing the page easier.)

Following are some other features of the Page Holder pane:

  • You can clear the Page Holder by clicking the Clear button. The page that was stored there will be removed.

  • Click the Links button to see only the links on the page in the Page Holder. This makes seeing all the page's links much easier than trying to view the pane in the window. However, sometimes the links can be a bit unclear because you only see their names. Click the Links button again to return the page to its full glory.

  • You can create a list of Page Holder Favorites for pages you regularly store in the Page Holder pane. For example, you might want to create a Page Holder favorite for new sites you regularly view using the Page Holder feature. Click the Favorites button to see a pop-up menu that provides Page Holder Favorite commands and the sites you have stored as Page Holder favorites. Page Holder favorites work just like regular favorites (there is even a Page Holder Favorites window).

Configuring Internet Explorer

There are many Internet Explorer preferences you can configure, and you will learn about some of them in the sections about particular topics in this chapter. In this section, you will learn about some of the other preferences you may want to configure.

Some preferences within Internet Explorer can also be set using the Internet pane of the System Preferences utility. The preferences set using System Preferences are available to all applications to which they are meaningful. For example, as you saw in Chapter 10, you can set your Home page within the System Preferences utility. This page becomes the Home page for all the Web browsers you use. When you change the Home page within Internet Explorer, the page you set as your Home page is not set in the System Preferences application and so is applicable only to Internet Explorer.

Setting Your Favorites Page As Your Home Page

One of the most useful Home pages is your Internet Explorer Favorites page. When you visit your Favorites Home page, you see all the favorites you have set so that you can easily access them. Plus, because the Favorites page is stored on your Mac, it requires no time to download.

  1. Choose File, Open File.

  2. In the Open dialog box, move to the Favorites.html file that is located in the following path: short_user_name/Library/Preferences/Explorer (where short_user_name is the name of your Home directory).

  3. Select the Favorites.html file and click Open. Your favorites page will open.

  4. Copy the address shown in the Address bar.

  5. Open the Internet Explorer Preferences window (press graphics/symbol.gif+;), click Browser Display, and paste this address into the Address field in the Home Page area of the dialog box.

  6. If you want to see your Home page each time you open a new Internet Explorer window, check the "Automatically go to this Home Page when opening a new window" check box.

  7. Click OK.

Now your Home page will be your Favorites page (see Figure 13.3).

Figure 13.3. You can set your Home page to be your Favorites page.



You can use the steps you used to set your favorites as your Home page to open any HTML files on your Mac. You can browse for them with the Open File command just as you can with any other application. You can also set any HTML file to be your Home page.

Customizing Internet Explorer

There are many ways to change how the Internet Explorer window looks and works. These settings are in various panes of the Internet Explorer Preferences window.

Open the Internet Explorer Preferences window and click Browser Display. You will see the following options:

  • Toolbar Settings You can use these settings to change the appearance of the toolbars you see. Use the Toolbar Style pop-up menu to determine whether toolbars that are shown contain both Icons and Text, Text Only, or Icons Only. Uncheck the "Use Address AutoComplete" check box if you don't want Internet Explorer to try to match addresses that you type with those on the History list. Uncheck the "Show ToolTips" check box if you don't want Internet Explorer to display pop-up text boxes that explain icons to which you point.

  • Home Page Use this to configure your Home page as in the previous section in which you set your Home page to be your Favorites page.

  • Keyboard Accessibility Use these radio buttons to set the action that happens when you press the Tab key. Your choices are to tab to each item on a page or only to text fields. The "Tab to just text fields" choice is a useful option when you don't use the keyboard to navigate around Web pages but do want to use the Tab key to move among text fields (such as in online forms). The "Tab to each item" option is useful if you like to browse using the keyboard. You can tab to an item to select it?a box appears around the currently selected item. When you press Return, that item is "clicked."

Click the Web Content page to see the following options:

  • Page & Link These options enable you to change the appearance of the text and links you see on a page. You can change the color of text, the default background for Web pages, links you have viewed, and links you haven't viewed by clicking the color bars next to each option. When you do, you will see the Color Picker. You can use this to customize the colors used for each item. By default, links are underlined so that you can easily distinguish them from regular text. You can uncheck the "Underline links" check box to remove the underline from links.

  • Page Content These settings determine how Internet Explorer handles particular kinds of content. For example, the "Show pictures" check box determines whether or not graphics are displayed. For example, if you have a very slow connection, you might not want to download all the graphics on each page you open. The Animate GIFs check boxes determines whether animations are played at all or whether they loop continuously or play only once per page loading. Check or uncheck the various options to turn them on or off.


    Web pages can incorporate style sheets to provide more control over how the pages appear in your browser. You can use the style sheet preferences to choose your own style sheet rather than to use a page's own style sheet.

  • Active Content Active content is content that performs actions on your Mac, such as Java scripts and plug-ins. This area enables you to set how active content is used.

Click Language/Fonts to see the following options:

  • Language Use these controls to determine which languages can be used to display Web pages and which languages you prefer.

  • Fonts and Size Use these pop-up menus to set the size and font families used to display the various kinds of text that appear on Web pages.

Automatically Completing Forms with AutoFill

As you move about the Web, you will probably need to complete many forms, such as when you register at a site, when you shop, and so on. Rather than retyping standard information a million times, you can use Internet Explorer's AutoFill feature so that you only have to click a button to complete most of the fields on a form. Before you can use AutoFill, you need to provide your information to Internet Explorer.


For AutoFill to work, the Forms AutoComplete feature must be enabled. To check this, open the Forms AutoComplete pane of the Internet Explorer Preferences window and make sure that the "Enabled" radio button is selected.


When you manually complete a form, Internet Explorer will tell you about AutoFill and ask whether you want to configure it using the information you enter on the form. That method of configuring AutoFill works, too.

  1. Open the Internet Explorer Preferences window.

  2. Click AutoFill Profile.

  3. Complete as much of the information as you want to be able to enter by using AutoFill.

  4. Click OK.

When you come to a form on which you need to enter this information, click the AutoFill button, choose Tools, AutoFill Forms, or press graphics/symbol.gif+'. Internet Explorer will do its best to enter the information for you.


Note that AutoFill can't complete information using pop-up menus (which many sites use to enter a state). When you use AutoFill, review the information entered to make sure that it is correct and complete before you try to submit it.

Tracking Your Status

In the lower-left corner of the Internet Explorer window is the Status bar. Here you will see messages from Internet Explorer telling you what it is doing or what is happening with the current Web page. One of the most useful things you see here is the status of a Web page as it downloads into your computer. From this, you can get an idea of how long the page will take to fully download. Keep your eyes on the status area as you move around because it will help you know what is going on.

Another important feature of the Status bar is that it will show you when you are dealing with a secure Web site. This is indicated by a lock icon as well as a text message.

    Part I: Mac OS X: Exploring the Core
    Part III: Mac OS X: Living the Digital Lifestyle