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8. Mozilla lets users block pop-up ads

By Mark Alberstat

A FEW WEEKS AGO in this column, I discussed using other PC operating systems such as Linux. Although not many people are going to switch their OS, one part of your system you might want to reconsider is your Internet browser.

After the browser wars of the late 1980s and early '90s, Microsoft's Internet Explorer came out on top and now has the vast majority of users, whether you are on a PC or a Mac. But this does not mean it is the best, it just means it is the best distributed.

There are several browser options available to the avid Internet surfer. The second most popular browser is Netscape Navigator. In the early days of the Net this browser was the best. Microsoft's marketing and money pushed it aside and today it still has a loyal but small following.

One browser that is growing in popularity is Mozilla. People are flocking to this product for several good reasons.

One of the factors people like about Mozilla is its ability to have several browser windows open in the same session. The software accomplishes this rare feat with a tabbed environment. Suddenly your task bar is not cluttered with half a dozen, or more, browser windows when you are moving from one site to another. Until you have discovered the joy of tabbed browsing for yourself, you are going to have to trust me - this feature alone is worth changing over.

Another good reason for switching is that Mozilla has the ability to block pop-up ads. Today people are downloading extra programs to stop these modern-day annoyances because their current browser, mainly IE, allows pop-ups and they are cluttering up computer screens.

With Mozilla, stopping them is as easy as going to the tool bar and telling the program to block pop-ups from that site. Next time you visit this site pop-ups are a nasty memory.

The built-in search facility is also a nice feature in Mozilla. Just type in the word you want to search for in the address bar and hit the search button. Mozilla goes out and places your word in the major search engines and returns with your hits. If you try this in your Microsoft browser, you are locked into searching through MSN.

Printing Web pages with Mozilla also seems to be more intuitive than with IE. On several pages I tested, Mozilla shrank the page about to be printed to fit on the page, rather than cutting it off, which is what IE tends to do.

For those among us with a good dose of paranoia, Mozilla also has an excellent cookie manager. This small utility allows you take control of your browser's cookies and even set cookie permissions for sites and then remembers that decision for later use.

Mozilla is also open source software. This means you can actually get involved in the development of the program and help with its growth through beta-testing and bug reporting. Although you may feel you are only one small user on a large project, your input could be included in the next release or upgrade, something you could almost never claim with Microsoft.

A few other browsers you might think about trying out include SlimBrowser by Flash-peak, Avant Browser or Safari, the new browser for Mac's OS X.

Mozilla can be downloaded at

SlimBrowser can be downloaded at

Avant Browser can be downloaded at

Safari can be downloaded at

The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about computing, e-mail If we use your question in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.


The Mousepad Index


Originally published 11 May 2003


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