Last week you viewed dozens of pages on the World Wide Web while searching for information. Today you remember that one of those pages had really useful stuff.
How can you find it again?
Forget about memorizing those mystifying Web addresses. Here are instructions for returning - quickly and easily - to previously viewed Web pages. There are two basic approaches.
One is relatively well-known. Just use the “bookmark” or “favorites” feature on your Web browser. That's the program - usually Internet Explorer or Netscape - that lets you use the Web.
The procedure for bookmarking a Web page is similar with both programs. Get the page on your monitor. With Explorer, you then click on Favorites on the toolbar at the top of the screen. With Netscape, click on Bookmarks.
Clicking produces a dropdown menu that shows how to put the address for the current page into your most frequently used list. In Explorer, for instance, a click on “Add” produces another menu that let's you pick a category heading where the bookmark will be stored. You can use an existing category, or create new categories.
When you want to return to a favorite site, just click on Favorites (with Explorer) or Bookmarks (with Netscape) and select the site name.
The favorites/bookmarks feature is fine when you recognize a useful site, and know that you will use it often. But how can you return to a site that you didn't put in the favorites list?
Many computer users haven't discovered the other approach, which involves using the “History” feature. It is excellent for personal use in quickly returning to previously viewed Web pages. Parents also may regard it as a way of checking to see what young kids in the household have been doing on the Internet.
Explorer and Netscape both create lists of clickable shortcuts to pages your computer accessed in the current Web session, and previous sessions. Click on a shortcut from the list, and you go directly to the Web page that you, or another user of the computer, previously viewed.
With Explorer, click on History on the toolbar. Your screen will split, with a list of previously viewed pages appearing on the left. Don't worry, another click on the History button returns your view to normal. Click again, and the split screen returns.
Do some clicking to get familiar with the feature. A click on View, for instance, give the option of viewing the list by day, date, order visited, site, and most frequently visited site.
To get a better view of the list, click on the right-hand border of the history screen. Your cursor will sprout double arrowheads. Hold the mouse button down, and pull the border to the right.
You can decide how much history Explorer will keep. Click on Tools on Explorer's toolbar, select Internet Options, and look down to the History section. Make your selections.
If you are short on hard disk space, reduce the number of days so that fewer pages are stored on your hard disk. If you don't want other users checking your tracks on the Internet, set the days to “0.” In addition, at the end of each session, erase your footprints. Go back to Tools-Internet Options-History and click the “Clear History” button.
To access the history list in Netscape, click Communicator on the tool bar, move to Tools on the dropdown menu, and select History. To select the number of days, click on Edit on the toolbar and Preferences in the dropdown menu. Go to the History section in the new screen.
Michael Woods is the Blade's science editor. Email him at email@example.com.