Getting frustrated with keeping track of tabs, or pages that just won't load when you're browsing the web? These tips will help you ensure your time on the net is spent far more efficiently.

While surfing the web can be a great way to wile away the hours, there are a number of problems that can occur. Whether its keeping track of hundreds of tabs, navigating bookmarks or just dealing with pages that won't load – the internet can be frustrating.

However, we've rounded up a number of hidden features and third-party apps that can help you tackle these troubles whether you're using Apple's Safari 3.0 or Mozilla's Firefox 2.0 or version 3.0.

Keep tabs on your tabs

Safari's and Firefox's tabbed browsing features let you open multiple sites within a single window, thereby reducing screen clutter. But some aspects of tabbed browsing are less obvious.

Keep track of search results

Say you've just performed a Google search. You now have a results page, which probably includes tons of links you'd like to visit.

You could simply click on a link to view that page in the current window, and then click on the Back button or the SnapBack icon in the Search field to return to the results. But an easier way is to right-click on each link (in Firefox), and select to open the pages in new tabs or even windows. You can continue navigating your search results in the original page.

Restore tabs automatically

After hours of browsing, you often end up with several open windows, each with its own set of carefully culled tabs. Sod's Law dictates that this is the moment your browser will crash.

But you don't need to find all those pages again manually. In Firefox, choose Firefox: Preferences and click on Main; from the When Firefox Starts pop-up menu, choose Show My Windows And Tabs From Last Time. From now on, Firefox will keep track of all open tabs and windows, and restore them automatically when the browser restarts. (When restarting Firefox after a crash, click the Restore Session button.)

Although Safari doesn't have an auto-restore feature, you can manually regain sites by selecting History: Reopen All Windows From Last Session. To restore sessions automatically, try Hetima Computer's free SafariStand 3. Once you've installed it, choose Stand: SafariStand Setting. Under General, from the Restore Method at Launch pop-up menu, select Automatically Reopen Last Session (Safari).

Note that the software uses an unofficial method to alter Safari's behaviour. It could stop working after an update to Safari.

NEXT PAGE: Tips for finding web pages

  1. Keeping tabs on your tabs
  2. Tips for finding web pages
  3. Keep bookmarks in sync
  4. Improve website support

Visit Broadband Advisor for the latest news and reviews about the internet and internet tools, and to use PC Advisor's independent broadband speed checker

Getting frustrated with keeping track of tabs, or pages that just won't load when you're browsing the web? These tips will help you ensure your time on the net is spent far more efficiently.

Find pages

How many times have you read something on the web and later had no idea where to find that information again?

Although browsers keep track of your history (a list of URLs you've visited recently) that isn't much help if you don't know the name of the site or if the page is no longer in the history list. There are several ways to solve this problem.

Use a search tool

If you're an Apple Mac user running Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard), you can easily search the contents of pages you've visited. That's because Spotlight indexes everything you look at in Safari, except when you've enabled private browsing (Safari: Private Browsing).

Click on the Spotlight icon in the menu bar and enter your search term, and Spotlight will display a list of matches under web pages. But there's a catch: even though Spotlight knows the text that was on the page, it can't display that text if the page no longer exists. For that, you'll need a more powerful tool, such as St Clair Software's £10 HistoryHound 1.9.2.

Windows users should check out Google's free Google Desktop. Like Spotlight, Google Desktop indexes the contents of pages you visit; also like Spotlight, it doesn't store pages, so you must go back to the original site once you've discovered a match. But unlike Spotlight, Google Desktop supports numerous browsers (including Firefox), and can even index messages from your Gmail account, not to mention other files on your hard disk.

Sync your browsers

Have you ever bookmarked an interesting website at work - only to forget the URL when you're at your home PC?

Google Browser Sync makes your Firefox browser settings available on any two or more Firefox-equipped, internet connected PC. In fact, this Firefox extension can remember bookmarks, cookies, and passwords for those websites.

Whenever you open Firefox, Google Browser Sync asks you if you'd like to restore any pages from your last session. The pages you select automatically open in their own tabs. The program takes a few minutes to set up, and it takes a few seconds whenever you open Firefox. Note: Google Browser Sync is free, but it does require a Google account. It also requires that you create and remember a PIN that you'll use the first time you sync your bookmarks on another computer.

NEXT PAGE: Keep bookmarks in sync

  1. Hidden features and third party apps that make life easier
  2. Tips for finding pages
  3. Keep bookmarks in sync
  4. Improve site support

Visit Broadband Advisor for the latest news and reviews about the internet and internet tools, and to use PC Advisor's independent broadband speed checker

Getting frustrated with keeping track of tabs or pages that just won't load when you're browsing the web? These tips will help you ensure your time on the net is spent far more efficiently.

Keep bookmarks in sync

If you have multiple bookmark lists strewn across different browsers, or even across several machines, it's time to rein in the chaos.

Sync your bookmarks

If you use several browsers, each with its own set of bookmarks, try merging them with Google Bookmarks.

Use predictive searching

In Firefox 2.0 or Safari, when you begin typing a URL into the location bar, the browser shows any matching URLs from your bookmark list or browsing history. This lets you navigate to one of the suggested links with the keyboard or mouse.

Firefox 3.0 takes this autocompletion feature to a new level. It recognises not only portions of URLs, but also words from the titles of web pages and tags that you've added to your bookmarks. (To append tags to bookmarks, choose Bookmarks: Bookmark This Page, or double-click on the blue star at the right side of the location bar; enter keywords in the Tags field.) You can also type search terms directly into the location bar.

Firefox performs a Google search and either brings up a results page or takes you straight to the top web page when it finds a clear match.

NEXT PAGE: Improve site support

  1. Hidden features and third party apps that make life easier
  2. Tips for finding pages
  3. Keep bookmarks in sync
  4. Improve site support

Visit Broadband Advisor for the latest news and reviews about the internet and internet tools, and to use PC Advisor's independent broadband speed checker

Getting frustrated with keeping track of tabs or pages that just won't load when you're browsing the web? These tips will help you ensure your time on the net is spent far more efficiently.

Improve site support

Once in a while, you might encounter a site that refuses to display properly or that generates an error message telling you your browser's not supported. However, you can sometimes outsmart such sites by switching the user agent setting, a trick that lets one browser masquerade as another. For instance, a site that doesn't work in Safari might work if you change the setting to Firefox.

If you're trying to log into a site that doesn't like Firefox, the User Agent add-on will let you pose as another browser. In Safari 3.1.1, you must first enable the normally hidden Develop menu. Choose Safari: Preferences, click on Advanced, and select the Show Develop Menu in Menu Bar option. If you encounter an unsupported site, select Develop: User Agent, and choose one of the browsers listed. Then, in the same tab, re-enter the URL you originally tried to visit. If you use Firefox, download the free User Agent Switcher add-on. This appends the User Agent Switcher submenu to the Tools menu; from here you can select a different browser.

If you're using a Mac, unfortunately, this trick won't always work. Some sites rely on features built into Windows, such as ActiveX controls or a PC-only plug-in. The only way to view these sites is by running Windows through Boot Camp or in a virtualisation program such as Parallels' Desktop 3.0 for Mac or VMware's VMware Fusion 1.1.2.

  1. Hidden features and third party apps that make life easier
  2. Tips for finding pages
  3. Keep bookmarks in sync
  4. Improve site support

Visit Broadband Advisor for the latest news and reviews about the internet and internet tools, and to use PC Advisor's independent broadband speed checker