Today’s post deals with how you can make the most of your web browser (for most people that will be the market leader Google Chrome). Not something we commonly think about, but it is the window through which we view all pages on the internet, so it is a very heavily used tool in our modern workflows.
It’s easy to think of Google search engine and Google Chrome as the same thing. For the average user they are seamlessly connected. However if you see them slightly separately you can see how to optimise your use of each.
Using a restaurant analogy, Chrome (or any other browser) is the table you are seated at, and the search engine (and some tech stuff you don’t need to know about) is your waiter. The waiter is the conduit between you at the table and the kitchens. Kitchens, plural. Because this is the internet where space and location don’t matter, so you can order webpages from anywhere.
So having a table is your way of being served in the restaurant. The table is stocked with salt and pepper, sauces, cutlery, advertised specials and set menus to make your dining experience smoother and able to be personalised. You can use cues on the menu to order faster and you can season your food to taste once it arrives.
So how can you use your browser to make ordering up web pages easier?
Bookmarks are a way of recording useful webpages and marking them as favourites. To bookmark a page click the star in the address box. You can view and organise your bookmarks in the Bookmark manager. Learn more about bookmarks here.
The Bookmarks bar allows you to visit your most frequently used webpages even faster and easier. You don’t need the menu at your local restaurant, you know what to order because you have ordered it so many times before. Similarly once you add your bookmark to the bookmarks bar, that webpage is on speed order.
Make sure that you have key documents like the RMA, helpful sites like Quality Planning and plan documents you use regularly saved to the bookmarks bar. Then you don’t need to type up the web address for these commonly used sites.
One tip for statutory documents is to bookmark the web-page that contains the document, and not the web-link to the pdf itself. When the statutory document is updated you are less likely to have broken bookmarks if you link to the web-page rather than the pdf. It means there is one more click when you use the bookmark, but it gives you more confidence about having the up to date version.
2. Keyboard Shortcuts
Instead of moving the mouse around, try these shortcuts:
- Ctrl+T to open a new tab
- Ctrl+D to bookmark the current web-page
- Ctrl+Shift+T to reopen the last closed tab
- Space to move the page down
- Shift-Space to go up a page.
Using the space bar is great whenever you are reading a long document in your browser because you can take your hand off your mouse and give your arm a rest. Many of us are guilty of reading long sections of text online with our hand unnecessarily on the mouse.
The useful Ctrl+F works in a browser just as it does in the Microsoft suite such as Word. Hit Ctrl+F and type in what you are looking for to go straight to the relevant text on the webpage.
See the full list of browser shortcuts here.
3. Open two Chrome windows
Many people have LOTS of tabs open on their browser. Instead try having two Chrome windows open, with a lesser number of tabs in each. Ideally have one Chrome browser window displayed on each of your screens (if you have two monitors).
To create a second window right click on the Chrome icon on the taskbar (at the bottom of your main screen) and click on Google Chrome – this will open a second window, so you can start organising the web pages you are viewing. Or you could just drag one of your open tabs across to your other screen.
Try using one Chrome window for all your statutory documents and the other for looking at project specific research and information. Using two browser windows just makes it easier to organise all the tabs.
4. Add extensions
Extensions are add-ons to other apps or programs which can enhance your browser experience. These can help with numerous tasks such as:
- Make it easier to record useful info you find on web pages. For example a webclipper makes it easy to take clippings of things you find on websites and put them in your digital notebook for later reference and use. Onenote, Evernote and Google Keep all have web clipper extensions for Chrome.
- Feed readers let you see if you have any new messages in your LinkedIn, Email or any other app/social media. It displays as the program icon with a little red flag/box to show you have some messages/mail waiting for you.
- Enhance how your browser displays. For example Tab Resize gives you more control of how your tabs appear. Great if you tend to have too many tabs open. Start.me gives you a dashboard display to your frequently used websites. Spritzlet is the extension (actually a bookmarklet, but that’s not important here) to allow you to read web-page text in Spritz – see my post on using Spritz here.
Always make sure that you use reputable extensions. By installing an extension you are allowing this program into your system. Talk to your IT staff if you are unsure about which extensions you should install.
Implementing these solutions together really gives the best results. Once you have frequently used websites bookmarked, especially in the bookmark bar, you tend to have less tabs open. This in turn makes it easier to use your browser effectively. Without the clutter you are able to adopt some keyboard shortcuts or add some extensions which help your workflow.
Happy web browsing!
This post is part of the How-to June series, so subscribe to the blog to see more How-To’s and hacks.