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There are many different Web browsers. Luckily all are free. Here’s a summary of some of the most popular web browsers and some of their unique features. Go ahead and expand your horizons by trying a new browser.

If you use a Windows computer, phone, or tablet, the default Web browser is Internet Explorer. You may know it as the blue “E” that you use to get on the Internet. If you are using a Mac, iPad, or iPhone, the default Web browser is Safari. The icon that starts it looks like a compass. Other popular Web browsers include Opera, Firefox, and Chrome.

Luckily for us, all of these browsers are free. All work in a similar manner. Each has tabbed browsing, bookmarks, auto fill, zoom, pop-up blockers, and automatic updates. Yet each one is just a little bit different.  The toolbars and menus look different. Things are in different places. For instance, each browser handles downloaded files a little differently and may give you different download options and put the downloaded files in different folders.

Sometimes, even main features vary. For instance Safari, Internet Explorer, and Firefox have parental controls. Chrome and Opera do not. Both Opera and Safari have Mouse Gestures, which allow you to move your mouse in simple ways to give the browser commands without using the more cumbersome menu choices. Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox do not have Mouse Gestures.

Some Web browsers have special features. For instance, Opera has voice interaction so if you have a microphone and speakers you can verbally communicate with the browser and have it read the text to you.

All of these browsers work with Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.  All, except Internet Explorer, which is Windows only, also work with the Mac OS. Depending on which tablet and/or smart phone you own, you can often also install these Web browsers or mobile versions of them on your portable devices. Your tablet may also have a special Web browser for use only on that tablet. One example of this the Web browser called “Silk” that is built-into the Amazon Fire tablets.

If you are working on a PC or Mac, it is a good idea to install a second Web browser. This gives you an alternative way to get on the Internet if, for some reason the browser you usually use is not working properly. Not only can you install two or three different Web browsers, but you can use them all at the same time, if you wish. This makes it easy to try an alternative browser. You can run them side-by-side to decide which one you like better.

If you are currently using Internet Explorer or Safari and want to try another browser, check out Opera or Chrome. As mentioned earlier, Opera will read to you. Chrome cannot do that, but it is known as one of the fastest Web browsers. If you look at both of these browsers, you will see a stark contrast. Opera has all of the controls and menus visible while Chrome has a much cleaner look, with fewer obvious controls. It is up to you to determine which type of interface you prefer.

So remember that the Web browser is the program or app that gets you on the Internet and that there are several different Web browsers that you can use. Best of all, remember they are all free!!

Opera – www.opera.com

Chrome – www.chrome.com

Safari – www.apple.com/safari

Firefox – www.firefox.com

Internet Explorer – Built into Windows, not available for individual download

If you don't know which browser you are using, check out my  article on how to find out.