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Internet basics

Once you have a computer and internet connection, you're ready to start exploring the web. There are so many things to do online, but here are some of the most common activities you're likely to want to do.

Using an internet browser

To access the internet you need an internet browser – an easy to use computer program that lets you search for and view millions of web pages on any subject you can think of.

Most computers come with an internet browser already installed. The most common internet browser is Internet Explorer, but some other web browsers you may come across are:

  • Firefox


  • Google Chrome

    Google Chrome

  • Safari


They all work in a similar way, so don't worry too much about which one you use.

To open your web browser

  1. Click the 'Start' button in the bottom left hand corner of your computer screen
  2. Select your browser by clicking on its name in the menu
  3. Your internet browser will now open, ready for you to use. If you have an icon for your internet browser on your desktop, you can also double-click on this to open it.

Visiting a website

If you know the address of a website, you can type it into the address bar on your internet browser and press the enter (or return) key on your keyboard. The address bar is the long white horizontal bar at the top of your internet browser.


A website address usually begins 'www' and often ends in either '.com' or '' – for example, the BT website address is Make sure you type the website address exactly as it appears, with no extra spaces and make sure the dots are in the right places.

Websites often have other pages that you can visit through 'links'. Links are usually highlighted in bold, underlined or coloured in blue. If you would like to visit the linked page, just click on the highlighted words.

Top tip

If you would like to return back to a previous page, use the 'back' function on your web browser. This is usually a backwards arrow symbol found to the top-left of your screen.

Searching for a website

If you don't know the address of the website you want to visit, or if you'd like to find out more information about something you're interested in, you can use a search engine.

A search engine lets you find exactly what you want from the millions of web pages on the internet easily and quickly.

How to do a Google search

There are several search engines available, but the most common is Google. To find it, type into the address bar of your internet browser.


You'll now see a white page with the Google logo in the middle. Underneath there is a long bar – you type what you are looking for in here. For example, if you want to find beef casserole recipes, just type 'beef casserole recipes' into the bar and click 'Google Search'.

A list of relevant websites will then appear and you just need to click on the blue writing to view the page.

It's that easy! You can now search the internet for anything you're interested in.

Top tip

Keep your searches simple – one or two key words are usually enough.

Sending emails

Email is a great way to stay in touch with your family and friends, cheaply and easily. Emails can be short or long. You can also send and receive photos and documents by email. You can email just one person, or a whole group at the same time.

Setting up an email account is easy – you can get one from your internet service provider (ISP) or you could use a web-based service like Google Mail at or Hotmail at

If you have broadband from BT, you'll have a free BT Yahoo! email address. To start using your BT Yahoo! Mail, just go to and log in with your username and password.

Email addresses always include an '@' symbol. When typing someone's email address, make sure you type in all of the characters, and that the dots are in the right place.

Staying in touch

Keeping in close contact with family and friends is so much simpler online. See how Gabby stays in touch through emails and video phone calls.

To watch the videos you may need to allow ActiveX controls or download the latest Flash Player – read more about enabling ActiveX and upgrading your Flash Player here.

Top tip

You can find a simple step-by-step guide to setting up an email account with Learn My Way. Register today and access a huge range of online Register courses.

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BSL user videos

To watch the videos you may need to allow ActiveX controls or download the latest Flash Player – read more about enabling ActiveX and upgrading your Flash Player here.

Jargon Buster

  • Broadband

    Broadband is a permanent high-speed internet connection.

  • Toolbar

    The toolbar is the selection of buttons displayed vertically or horizontally on computer programs, letting you print, save, copy etc.

  • Web

    Web is a shorthand name for the internet. The terms 'internet' and 'web' are usually interchangeable.

  • Don't understand what something means?

    Go to the Jargon Buster

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