Glossary of common terms
For terms not listed below, you can search http://techterms.com/category/internet
- Bookmark: A way to save the location of a specific website that you want to go back to.
Search Engine: A program that searches documents and websites looking for the specific words you've typed in. Commonly used search engines are Google, Bing, Yahoo Search. You will want to be as specific as possible when searching for something, or else you will see many results that do not really apply to your search. For example, if you are looking for the address of a certain doctor's office in Des Moines, you don't want to just ask about "Doctor", you will want to say "Des Moines Iowa Dr. (name)"
- Browser: A program that locates and displays web pages, images, video and other files. A browser will come loaded on your computer when you buy it, but you can also download a different one to use. The two most popular browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Firefox. Other major browsers include Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Opera.
- Click (or double-click): Tap on the mouse button firmly once, pushing down and letting it back up. Sometimes you will need to double click, which is tapping it twice.
- Desktop: Your computer desktop is a place to show icons for programs, files and folders you want to be able to access quickly. You can put a shortcut icon on your desktop to get to those files more easily.
- History: A record of the websites you have viewed, in a set amount of time.
- Home page: The main page of a web site. It usually acts as an index or table of contents, and has basic information the web site owner feels you need to know.
- Icon: A small picture that represents a program or file. Many people have different icons on their desktop.
- ISP: Internet Service Provider. This is the company you or your company has contracted with to provide internet access.
- Modem: A device, usually provided by your ISP, that enables your computer to transmit data over a phone line and receive data back.
- Scroll (or scroll bar): If a webpage is longer than what will show up completely in one window, you will need to scroll up and down to read all of it. Most computer mouses have a scroll wheel, in the middle or on the side, that you can roll up and down, or you can use a scroll bar, which is on the right side of the website- often a gray box inside a vertical long rectangle with small arrow graphics on each end. You can click on the gray box, hold it down and move your mouse up and down to scroll up and down the page, or you can click on the top or bottom arrows, depending which way you want the page to move.
- Toolbar: A series of buttons, usually at the top or along the side of your computer screen, that give you an easy way to select which application, program or website you want to use.
- URL: Every website on the internet has a URL. You can see the URL in a bar at the top of the page. They will start with http://www.
- Window: Everything you see on the screen is in a window. You can have multiple windows open on your computer at the same time, each with a different document or website. Depending on how you have your computer set up, your open windows can be in a row along the top of the screen, or all layered, like pieces of paper on a desk. The more windows you have open, especially if they are all different websites, the slower your computer may be.
What is the internet?
When most people talk about the internet, they are talking about the world wide web. There are literally millions and millions of websites in the world, and you can search for information on almost any topic through the internet.
Ways to access the internet
You will need to get to the internet using a computer or cell phone, usually what is called a smart phone. For more information on computers, see our computer page. For information on cell phones, see our phone page.
Internet service can be wired or wireless.
- Wired: There is a physical cable your computer must be hooked into to receive the internet signal.
- Wireless: The internet signal is being broadcast by radio waves, so you do not have to be physically connected to a cable. Many home internet systems have a wireless modem, so you can access the internet from almost any room. There are also many businesses that offer free wireless; sometimes you will need a password to use the internet, but often it is open for anyone.
Many Iowa public libraries offer computers for the public to use, and wireless internet access if you have your own laptop, tablet or smart phone.
To see a list of public libraries in Iowa, go to the State of Iowa Library Services website.
Searching on the internet
Open a window in your web browser by clicking twice on the icon for your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.)
This will take you to your home page. Everyone's home page will look different, because you can choose what website you want your computer to go to when you first access the internet. You can choose a search engine or news site to be your home page. For our example, we will say Google is our home page. This is what you may see:
In the middle area, there is the area that you will type in your search term. Let's find out information on bus schedules for Des Moines. When searching, you want to use three or four words that narrow down the subject, so enter "Des Moines Bus Schedule" and hit the enter key on your keyboard or the Google Search button underneath the search box. When you do that, here is what you may see:
Usually, but not always, the results at the top are either going to be the closest to your search terms, or they are businesses that have paid money to show up at the top. In our example, you can see that the first result is from the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART); the company that does run the buses, and shows the options for the routes. Next on the list is a more general page for DART, and below that is the bus schedule for Des Moines, Washington. This shows why it is helpful to put in as much information as possible but not more than five words, for the best results.
Other search options
You can also use the same steps to search for an image or video of what you are interested in. All the major search engines have image and video as an option. Let's search Des Moines Bus Schedule again, but choose "images" instead of "web". What you will see is small versions of pictures that match up with what you are interested in.
Common search engines include: