Make the most of Communicator
May 15, 1998
Web posted at: 1:46 PM PT
by Paul Heltzel
get to know Netscape Communicator better, I've collected tips from each
of its tools: Navigator, the browser; Conference, the real-time meeting
and whiteboarding tool; Collabra, the newsreader; Composer, the Web
authoring and e-mail composing tool; Messenger, the e-mail client; and
Netcaster, the push component. I'll show you how to get the best from
all of them.
Of course, I still flirt with other browsers. Hey, who doesn't? I've
also put together tips for running Communicator and Microsoft's
Internet Explorer on the same system. They'll help you keep peace on
So fire up your browser, slip into something more comfortable, and
let's serve up the tips!
If you don't have a dedicated FTP tool handy, you can upload files--including
Web pages--with Communicator. You'll need a user name and password to
copy files to an FTP site. Once you have the correct user information,
enter the following in the Location box: ftp://username@ftp_site
(where username is your specific user name). For example, to
copy a file to ftp.your_ftp_site.com, I would type ftp://firstname.lastname@example.org_ftp_site.com
in the Location box. When prompted, type in your password. Then just
drag and drop files from any folder into the browser window to upload
If your connection drops while you're downloading the latest multimegabyte
"service release," Communicator lets you resume downloads from where
it left off, (the partially downloaded file is stored in the cache folder).
Just click the original link to restart the file transfer from where
Unfortunately, you can't use Communicator 4.0 to sort Bookmarks alphabetically.
If you select Bookmarks, Edit Bookmarks, View, you'll see the Sort Ascending
and Sort Descending selections are grayed out. According to Netscape,
this feature won't be available until the 5.0 browser ships. But there
are some third-party good utilities that can sort your bookmarks alphabetically
(among other management functions). I recommend Compass,
available in FileWorld, PC World's software library.
Bookmarks by proxy
Just to the left of the Location box is the Page Proxy icon, which represents
the Web page you're currently viewing (see
FIGURE 1). Click and drag the icon to the Bookmarks window or to
your Windows 95 desktop to create Bookmarks and Shortcuts (respectively)
to pages you often use.
Add a site to your Bookmarks by dragging a URL from a page to the blue
Bookmark Quickfile button (see
FIGURE 2). But don't let go of the mouse quite yet. To save an extra
step, drop the URL directly into the appropriate folder.
Bookmark your history
The History window is a new Communicator feature that you can reach
from the browser by selecting Communicator, History (in the stand-alone
version of Navigator, select Window, History). From there you can right-click
any of the sites you have visited and select Add to Bookmarks.
Create a Personal Toolbar
If you want a bookmarked site to have special prominence--maybe to
encourage little folks around your house to stay away from your regular
bookmarks--try saving a page to the Personal Toolbar. First open the
page you want to add. Drag the tiny icon next to the word Netsiteto
the Personal Toolbar. You can edit the contents of this toolbar by clicking
the Bookmarks button and selecting Edit Bookmarks.
If you don't want to download the full Communicator suite (10.5 MB),
try Communicator's slimmer, stand-alone Navigator sibling (8.25MB).
You can reduce the size of either the suite or the stand-alone version
by choosing a custom installation and unchecking the Netcaster box.
Give AOL Instant Messenger the Boot
After installing Communicator 4.04, you may find that the AOL Instant
Messenger program launches every time you boot your computer. The program
isn't located in the Windows Startup folder, however, so here's how
to get rid of it. (Caution: This tip involves editing the Registry,
so I recommend backing
it up first.) Click Start, Run, and type regeditto launch
the Registry editor. Then Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/Current
Version/Run. Click the AOL Instant Messenger entry, then right-click
and choose Delete.
Winner of the Most Annoying Web Feature Award is the s-c-r-o-l-l-i-n-g
press Ctrl-Alt-S and enjoy the silence.
Let Your Taskbar Run Free
The new Taskbar on the status bar can be undocked and used as a floating
palette. Watch out, though, because it tends to get lost behind windows.
Click the top far left of the Taskbar to undock it. To bring it back
into the fold, click the small X in the right corner or select Communicator,
Dock Component Bar.
Do you want to view or display Web pages without distracting toolbars
and menus? "Kiosk mode" is particularly handy when you want to prevent
computer novices from changing your preferences or going where they're
not supposed to. Go to the Navigator Shortcut icon you use for launching
the program (whether on the Desktop, in the Start menu, or anywhere),
right-click that icon, select Properties, click the Shortcut tab, then
add a space and -sk to the end of the path in the Target field,
so it'll look something like "C:\Netscape\Communicator\Program\netscape.exe"
-sk. When you launch Navigator, you won't see any menus or buttons,
so you'll need to be proficient in the keyboard shortcuts I list in
the next tip.
While you're in Kiosk mode, you can go to other Web pages by pressing
Ctrl-O to run the Open Page dialog box. Press Ctrl-N to run a second
If you use Navigator 3, you probably know that typing http://in
the address field is unnecessary (Navigator fills that in for you),
and if you type anysite, you will go to www.anysite.com. But
in Communicator you can also add a path name such as pcworld/newsto
go to www.pcworld.com/news/.
Search Keywords From Within Navigator
If Navigator can't find www.anysite.com, it goes to a search page on
Netscape's site and runs a search on the word. If you type more than
one word, such as "rock and hard place," Navigator will automatically
go to a search engine and run a query on those keywords. If you have
a single-word query, type a space and a period after that word (i.e.,
Smarter Back and Forward
If you click and hold the Back or Forward buttons, you get a drop-down
list of the sites you've visited since starting the current session.
By typing about:x in the location field, you can bring up useful
and not-so-useful information about your browsing habits:
- about:cachegives a list of all files in the disk cache.
- about:globallists all the places you've visited and when.
- about:image-cachelists all image files in the cache.
- about:memory-cachelists all files in the memory cache.
To see more about the creators of Communicator try "about:" and the
following names: ari, atotic, blythe, chouck, dmose, dp, ebina, hagan,
jeff, jg, jsw, jwz, karlton, kipp, marca, mlm, montulli, mozilla, mtoy,
paquin, robm, sharoni, terry, timm.
Rest Your Mouse
Press Tab to jump between hyperlinks on a page. Shift-Tab takes you
backward between links.