What is a browser?

When you look at a website, you're using a browser. A browser is the program you and your computer use to access the web. No browser, no web.

The icons below are for Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari (left to right). They're all browsers that will connect your device to the web, whether you're on a computer, phone or tablet.

Browser icons

The first thing you see when you open your browser, is the address bar. The image below shows you what the address bar looks like in the Chrome browser. 


Taxi

A browser is bit like a taxi driver - tell them where you want to go and they'll get you there. By typing in a web address, also known as a URL, you tell the browser exactly where it has to go to find the website you're interested in.

Web addresses always start with http:// or https://. These letters stand for the system of rules computers use to send information around the web. The added 's' means that the site is secure; it encrypts the information it sends and receives.

Sometimes, but not always, you'll also see www in a web address. This stands for World Wide Web.

For example, if you type http://www.slv.vic.gov.au into your address bar, your browser retrieves information from a group of computers in Melbourne at State Library Victoria, all in a fraction of a second.



Activity

Open up the ABC website: type www.abc.net.au into your browser, then press the Enter button.

Things to remember
  • A browser is a program on your computer that lets you see the web
  • The web address, or URL, takes your browser to a specific website
  • Web addresses start with http:// or https://


But what if you don't have a web address to type in? You need to use a search engine.

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Last modified: Friday, 23 September 2016, 4:00 PM