H andbook: L earn N etscape

  1. Understanding pages and frames
  2. Knowing that every page has a unique URL
  3. Finding, starting and stopping links
  4. Linking via buttons and menu items
  5. Using history and bookmark lists
  6. Choosing the screen look
  7. Changing styles, fonts, and colors
  8. Selecting a home page
  9. Viewing inline images
  10. Viewing external images
  11. Filling in forms
  12. Setting up email and news
  13. Receiving and sending email
  14. Using the Mail window
  15. Using the Message Composition window
  16. Receiving and sending news
  17. Using the News window
  18. Exploring Usenet news
  19. Saving pages
  20. Printing and finding
  21. Identifying secure information
  22. Understanding public key technology

U nderstanding pages and frames

You're probably comfortable with the idea that information on the Internet is presented on pages you see on the screen. Even the navigational concepts are pretty easy:

Plus, you can go directly to pages that interest you by choosing menu items:

Ideally, the act of finding pages becomes secondary to what you really care about: the page's content. Like pages of a magazine, you'll want to flip from one screen page to another, sometimes to continue with the same article and other times to begin a new article. But you can't hold screen pages in your hands like you can a magazine. Screen pages are rarely uniform in length and, displayed one page at a time, don't provide intuitive feedback on where the information begins and ends.

So even though Internet pages bring information to you rather gloriously, there is something distinctly uncomfortable about content that continues over numerous links to pages of varying lengths. Anyone who has witnessed a slide show of a neighbor's family vacation can identify with the queasy sensation of boundlessness.

Readers of electronic pages need tools to keep track of pages. The Netscape text fields, toolbar buttons, and menu items provide you with the ability to manage pages of information that might otherwise leave you feeling overwhelmed and unfocused. Each time you open the Netscape window (you can have multiple Netscape windows open concurrently), you begin a new session of Internet interaction.

The author of a page supplies the content you initially see. Sometimes the content is presented as a single unit taking up the entire content area of the window. Other times the content is displayed in multiple rectangular frames that, together, form a patchwork of individual pages that fills the content area. Each frame can contain scroll bars to let you view more information. Netscape allows you to resize any frame by positioning the mouse in the borders between frames (the cursor changes shape), then dragging the frame to a new size.

A frame within a page is, in essence, a smaller page within a large patchwork page. Each frame has characteristics of a page. Together, the frames form a top-level page (also called a frameset). For example, clicking on a link within a frame can bring new information within the frame or to a different frame. Likewise, a link can bring an entirely new top-level page replacing all the frames.

When your link updates frames on a page, clicking the Back button returns the frame in its previous state. If you are viewing the original top-level frameset, clicking the Back button returns the previous whole page.

When viewing a page with frames, certain menu items change to reflect that actions affect only a selected frame's page and not the set of pages in the top-level page. The Mail Document, Save as, and Print menu items change to Mail Frame, Save Frame as, and Print Frame, respectively. When you select a frame by clicking within it, other functions such as keyboard shortcuts affect only the contents of the frame.

Some pages and frames have the capability to automatically update themselves. Pages that have server-push and client-pull capabilities contain instructions that allow multiple interactions with the server computers. You can always terminate these automatic actions by going to another page or otherwise exiting the page.

To open a new Netscape window, choose the File|New Web Browser menu item. The new window brings another copy of your home page to screen in a fully functional and independent Netscape window. You can have simultaneous network connections.

K nowing that every page has a unique URL

To understand how a single page is kept distinct in a world of electronic pages, you should recognize its URL, short for Uniform Resource Locator. Every page has a unique URL just like every person has a unique palm print. (Arguments persist as to which is more cryptic.)

Not only does each page have a unique URL, but also each image and frame on a page. You can access a page, an image, or an individual frame by supplying its URL.

A URL is text used for identifying and addressing an item in a computer network. In short, a URL provides location information and Netscape displays a URL in the location field. Most often you don't need to know a page's URL because the location information is included as part of a highlighted link; Netscape already knows the URL when you click on highlighted text, press an arrow button, or select a menu item. But sometimes you won't have an automatic link and instead have only the text of the URL (perhaps from a friend or a newspaper article).

Netscape gives you the opportunity to type a URL directly into the location text field (or the URL dialog box produced by the File|Open Location menu item. Using the URL, Netscape will bring you the specified page just as if you had clicked on an automatic link.

Notice that the label on the location field says Location after you bring a page (or Netsite for pages from Netscape servers), or Go to as soon as you edit the field. As a shortcut, you can omit the prefix http:// and Netscape automatically uses full URL to complete the search.

Here are some sample URLs:


On Windows, the location text field offers a pull-down menu to the right of the text. The menu contains up to 10 URLs of pages whose locations you've most recently typed into the field and viewed. Choosing a URL item from this menu brings the page to your screen again. The URLs are retained in the menu across your Netscape sessions.

Netscape uses the URL text to find a particular item, such as a page, among all the computers connected to the Internet. Within the URL text are components that specify the protocol, server, and pathname of an item. Notice in the URL http://home.netscape.com/index.html that the protocol is followed by a colon ( http:), the server is preceded by two slashes ( //home.netscape.com), and each segment of the pathname (only one here) is preceded by a single slash ( /index.html).

The first component, the protocol, identifies a manner for interpreting computer information. Many Internet pages use HTTP (short for HyperText Transfer Protocol). Other common protocols you might come across include file (also known as ftp, which is short for File Transfer Protocol), news (the protocol used by Usenet news groups), and gopher (an alternative transfer protocol).

The second component, the server, identifies the computer system that stores the information you seek (such as home.netscape.com). Each server on the Internet has a unique address name whose text refers to the organization maintaining the server.

The last component, the pathname, identifies the location of an item on the server. For example, a pathname usually specifies the name of the file comprising the page (such as /welcome.html), possibly preceded by one or more directory names (folder names) that contain the file (such as /home/welcome.html).

Some pathnames use special characters. If you are typing a URL into the location field, you'll need to enter the characters that exactly match the URL. For example, some pathnames contain the tilde character (~) which designates a particular home directory on a server.

F inding, starting and stopping links

A link is a connection from one page to another. You find a link by looking for one or more words highlighted with color, underlining, or both in the content area of a page. Images and icons with colored borders also serve as links. When the mouse cursor points over a link, the URL location of the link appears in the status field. A link within a page that contains frames can be a connection that brings one or more new pages within frames, or an entirely new top-level page replacing all frames.

You can bring a linked page to your screen by clicking once on the highlighted text, image, or icon. Clicking on a link transfers page content from a server location to your location. After you click on a link, the Netscape status indicator animates to show you that the transfer of the page to your computer is in progress. You can stop a transfer in progress by pressing the Stop button or choosing the Go|Stop Loading menu item.

An unfollowed link is a connection to a page that you have not yet viewed; a followed link is one you have. By default, unfollowed links are blue and followed links are purple. (On Windows and Macintosh, you can change the colors used to denote unfollowed and followed links from the Options|General|Colors menu item. On UNIX, modify your .Xdefaults file outside of the application.) If you have a black and white monitor, unfollowed and followed links are highlighted only with underlining and not differentiated.

You can stop a transfer in progress whenever the transfer takes longer than you like. This might happen if the content of the page is large or if the server computer is sluggish. Sometimes the page specified by a link just isn't available. You'll usually get a message if a connection was not made or a page not found. Examine the status field and progress bar to receive feedback about the progress of a transfer.

When you bring a page to your screen, you'll see the whole page or, if the content is extensive, only a portion. (Scroll bars let you see the rest.) Often the portion you see is the beginning of the page, but sometimes a link brings you content from the page's middle or end. A link can display a new page or display a different portion of the same page (in effect, automatically scrolling for you). For example, the beginning of a page might include a table of contents that links each chapter title to its respective content further down the page.

Yet another kind of link doesn't bring a page at all. A mailto link whose URL begins with mailto:, produces the Message Composition window for sending email (with the recipient's address automatically filled in).

L inking via buttons and menu items

In addition to links in the content area, you can also access links using Netscape buttons and menu items. Many of the links controlled by buttons and menu items bring pages you have viewed at least once before. Button links are particularly useful for going back and forth among recently viewed pages. Menu item links directly access a wide range of pages such as a history list of pages you have viewed or a bookmark list of pages you (or others) have personally selected as noteworthy.

The toolbar offers the following button links:

Once you have brought a page to screen, you can view (and store, if you wish) its URL. Every page is distinguished by its URL. Linking to a page via highlighted content, toolbar buttons, or menu items is a shortcut that enables you to display the page without having to explicitly request the page's URL. When no built-in link is available, you can display a page by entering the URL in the location field, then pressing the Enter (Return) key. (The label of the location field changes to Go to when you edit the field.) Alternatively, you can choose the File|Open Location menu item, enter the URL in the dialog box, then press the Open button.

Menu items offer each of the links available through toolbar buttons plus many more. The Netscape application keeps track of pages you have seen, lets you create easy-access lists of favorite pages, and points you to pages with current information about Netscape and the Internet. The page's title is displayed as the menu item.

U sing history and bookmark lists

When you pull down a menu that contains history or bookmark items, you see a list of page titles. To bring a page to your screen, choose the title of the page.

History items let you quickly retrieve pages that you've recently viewed in your current session. Only a single lineage of history items is displayed.

For example, a series of pages containing maps might show you increasing detail as you click on links. If you view consecutively linked pages with titles North America, United States, Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia, you'll see all four items appear in the history list with Philadelphia topmost in the list.

Furthermore, if you back up to the United States page, then view pages of California and San Francisco, California and San Francisco automatically replace Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. The new line of links replaces the old line of links.

Bookmarks items offer a more permanent means of page retrieval. Once you add a bookmark to your list, the title stays until you remove it or change lists. The permanence and accessibility of bookmarks make them invaluable for personalizing your Internet access.

Because bookmarks offer such ease of retrieval, the Netscape application offers many options for creating a bookmark list. Basic options let you add access to a page through a menu item. More advanced options let you create hierarchical menus, partial menu displays, multiple and shared bookmark files, list descriptions, and list searches.

The Bookmarks window, displayed by choosing the Window|Bookmarks menu item, gives you tools to manage bookmark lists. These tools might differ slightly depending on the platform you are using.

You'll find bookmarks and folders (a folder represents a hierarchical menu header) arranged like files and folders on your hard disk. You can double-click bookmarks to access pages, drag-and-drop icons to arrange your bookmarks, and use bookmark menu items to create new bookmark items and manipulate bookmark lists.

For example, to create a hierarchical menu, choose Item|Insert Folder from the Bookmarks window, give the folder (header) a name in the dialog box, close the dialog, then drag a bookmark into the resulting folder.

Don't let the advanced features dissuade you from the basic functionality of bookmarks. At its simplest, you can choose the Bookmarks|Add Bookmarks menu item to add the current page to your bookmark list, giving you direct access to your favorite pages.

C hoosing the screen look

You can tailor the look of the Netscape application by showing or hiding certain graphical elements on the screen. You'll find the basic alternatives listed in the Options menu.

The default settings show the toolbar, location field, and directory buttons. These graphical elements provide simplified access to links, commands, and page location information. By hiding any or all of these graphical elements, you increase the amount of screen real estate available for page content.

Other items in the Options menu affect the presentation of information. Auto Load Images lets you designate whether to display inline graphics automatically. Document Encoding allows for the display of different language character sets.

Choosing one of the preferences menu items General, Mail and News, Network, or Security produces a tabbed dialog box (or pop-up menu). Each preferences menu item provides access to specific preferences panels.

The panels contain settings that determine how the Netscape application operates. Many settings affect the look of graphical elements and content. After you are finished changing any values, click the OK button to accept the new panel settings or click the Cancel button to close the dialog box without accepting changes.

C hanging styles, fonts, and colors

To see options affecting general styles, fonts, and colors, choose the Options|General menu item. The dialog box contains tabs to different panel settings. For options affecting the styles, font, and colors of mail and news, choose the Options|Mail and News menu item.

In the General|Appearance panel, one set of radio buttons let you display the toolbar with Pictures, Text, or Pictures and Text.

You can check whether to also underline colored links. With a black and white display, you must check this box to underline links so the links are visible.

Another set of radio buttons lets you designate the number of days before the color of a followed link reverts back to the color of a unfollowed link. For example, if you specify 7 days, the color indicator for a followed link expires after 7 days and reverts to the unfollowed link color. If you choose Never, followed links never revert to the unfollowed color. Pressing the Now button causes all followed links to immediately revert to the color of unfollowed links. The default value specifies that followed links expire after 30 days.

On Windows and Macintosh, you can select colors for links, text, and background in the Colors panel . Click the Custom check boxes, then press the Choose Color buttons (on Macintosh, click the colored boxes). If the check box is unchecked, default settings display unfollowed links in blue, followed links in purple, text in black, and background in white. For background, you can also choose an image file.

On Windows and UNIX, the Images panel lets you choose how to display an image's colors to most closely match the computer's available colors.

In the Fonts panel, a set of pull-down menus lets you choose the font and font size for each of the two types of fonts that pages use to display text: Proportional and Fixed. Most text uses a proportional font. Text in editable fields and certain paragraphs preformatted by the author of a page typically use a fixed font.

Also in the Fonts panel, you can use the For the Encoding pull-down menu to choose the character set encoding that's associated with each proportional and fixed font pair. Netscape lets you choose encodings in order to accommodate the character symbols of numerous languages. You can view or modify the fonts associated with any encoding by choosing the encoding name from the menu, then choosing items from the proportional and fixed font pull-down menus. For example, for the default encoding Latin1, you can choose to display proportional font text in 12 point Times and fixed font text in 10 point Courier. Note that to apply a particular encoding to a page, choose from the Options|Document Encoding hierarchical menu.

S electing a home page

You can designate your own home page (the page the Netscape application first brings to the screen each time you open a new window) by supplying a URL as a preferences panel item. The home page designated initially with Netscape software (the default) has this URL: http://home.netscape.com/index.html

You can change your home page (and change back to the default) clicking the radio button Home Page Location in Options|General|Appearance, then typing the URL of the new home page you want. Alternatively, you can check the radio button Blank Page if you want the home page to be empty of content.

Each time you ask the Netscape application to open a new window, the designated home page is brought to screen. The URL can designate a page from a remote computer or one on your hard disk.

To get the URL of a page on your hard disk, choose File|Open File. Then select the page (file) on your hard disk (for example, you can choose your bookmarks file). After the page opens, you'll see its URL in the location field. You can select and copy the URL, then paste it into the Home Page Location text field in your preferences.

At first, you probably won't have any pages stored on your hard disk. But later, you might want quick and sure access to certain pages, such as one with valuable links or one you've created for yourself.

V iewing inline images

Ideally, pages on the screen should present images (or other multimedia effects) as simply and efficiently as text. However, images (and sounds and movies) are relatively larger in byte size than text and can take considerable time to transport from remote computers (servers) to your computer. The length of time needed to bring a page with images depends on several factors, most prominently the speed of the modem or direct link connecting you with a remote server. To compensate for the potential lethargy of transmitting images, Netscape software offers features that let you manipulate how images are handled.

The Netscape application loads images into pages automatically. If the author of a page has designed the page with inline images, the images are displayed when you bring the page to your screen. You have the option to turn off automatic image loading by unchecking the Options|Auto Load Images menu item. When this menu item is unchecked, the images in pages are replaced by small icons. In addition, the small replacement icon is sometimes accompanied by alternative text. Also called ALT text, alternative text is shown only as a substitution when an image is not loaded. On some platforms, ALT text is also shown temporarily within a rectangular border as an image is loading.

You can view these images at a later time. To manually load all images that are represented by icons, you can press the Images button in the toolbar or select the View|Load Images menu item. To manually load an individual image, click on the image's icon.

The advantage of unchecking Auto Load Images is that pages are brought to screen faster. The disadvantage is that you can't view the images until you specify that you want the images loaded.

The Auto Load Images item affects subsequent links and not the current contents of a page. However, if you choose the View|Reload menu item or press the Reload button on the toolbar, you bring the current page back again, this time with the Auto Load Image option active.

You also have the option of displaying an image incrementally as the image is transmitted or in a single burst after the transmission. Typically, the While Loading option provides more satisfying feedback. However, on a fast network, the After Loading option may complete the load slightly faster.

To set this option, choose the Options|General|Images menu item, then select one of the two radio buttons: While Loading or After Loading.

Like highlighted text, an inline image can be linked to another page, another position on the same page, or any type of external file such as an external image. As with all links, pointing the mouse button over a link puts the URL location of the prospective link in the status field.

V iewing external images

External images (unlike inline images) are displayed in their own windows. You can view an external image by clicking on a link to the image. The Netscape application can open external images stored in GIF (Graphics Interchange Format), JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group), and XBM (X Bit Map) file formats. Other file formats require that you have a suitable helper application available on your hard disk (and referenced in the Helpers panel).

Links to external images work like links to pages. An external image file has a unique URL just like an ordinary page. External images are not automatically loaded in their full representation even if the Auto Load Images item is checked.

You can click on highlighted text, an image icon, or an inline image to bring an external image into a separate window on the screen. Netscape or the external application opens and presents the image in a separate window. You must click back into the Netscape window to continue working with the Netscape application.

Pages that present large or detailed images often have inline snapshot images (also called thumbnail images) inserted into pages that serve as links to external images. Unlike the icon replacements, these snapshots provide an approximate view of the actual image, yet are still much smaller and faster to transport than the full image. You can expand the snapshot into the full image by clicking once on the snapshot.

F illing in forms

You can do more than read Netscape pages; you can write on them. Pages can contain forms for you to enter and send information. For example, a page might have a form with fields for you to enter a name and address next to a button that sends the information to the page's author. Forms can offer editable fields with or without default text, check boxes, radio buttons, pull-down menus, selection lists, and buttons to send or clear the information you enter. The content you enter into a form doesn't permanently alter the page (you don't modify the source page at its location), yet the form gives you the ability to conveniently transmit a response.

To send ordinary email, you fill in fields to supply the content of your message, the subject summary, and the email address of the intended recipient. Pages with forms let you reply to information you read in the page. To send a form, you fill in one or more fields embedded within a page, usually labeled with instructions and configured with a button that sends the form's contents to the recipient without requiring you to provide any email address.

The author of a page determines the layout of a form. A page can contain multiple forms, each form capable of sending fields independently of another form on the page. Fields in a form can restrict the kind or range of text you enter (such as numbers only) to help you fill in the form as desired.

Typically, forms give you a fast and easy way to make a request or send back a response regarding the page you are reading. Forms can supply an interface to databases with fields that let you query for information and perform Internet searches. The Usenet news pages, designed for people to communicate with each other on special interests, contain forms for you to enter messages and subscribe to newsgroups. The Netscape software has built-in links to pages with forms for you to comment about the Netscape application, and request product information.

S etting up email and news

This section gives you some background about Internet protocols and the preference items you use to set up your email and news services. Upcoming sections describe mail and news services in more detail.

Before you can exchange email or access any newsgroup news, you need to tell the Netscape application how to make the appropriate connection to the server computer handling various protocol. Where your World Wide Web server uses uses the HTTP protocol to transport page information, your outgoing and incoming Internet mail servers use mail protocols (SMTP and POP3) and your Usenet news server uses a news protocol (NNTP).

Do you know the name of your email servers and news server? If not, you will have to find out from your service provider, systems administrator, or resident know-it-all. After specifying the names of these servers as preference items in the Servers panel, Netscape software lets you send and receive email and newsgroup postings.

Here are some of the preferences you can set in the Options|Mail and News panels.

R eceiving and sending email

To display the Mail window and access email features, choose Window|Netscape Mail. Or, as a shortcut, you can click on the mail icon (the small envelope in the bottom-right of the Netscape and News windows).

When you open the Mail window, Netscape checks the server and retrieves any new mail. To receive mail, you'll have to enter your email password each session (or specify in the Mail and News|Organization panel that your password be remembered across sessions).

After Netscape has initially checked the mail server for messages, Netscape can periodically recheck the server and inform you if any new messages have arrived. However, Netscape does not automatically retrieve these additional messages from the mail server. To retrieve new messages, press the Get Mail toolbar button or click the mail icon.

A setting in the Mail and News|Servers panel determines how often Netscape automatically checks the mail server for new messages. You can also click on the mail icon from the Mail window to manually check the server and retrieve new messages.

Netscape informs you of the availability of new messages using the mail icon.

The Mail window contains three panes: a mailbox pane, a message header pane, and a message pane. Click on an item in the mailbox pane (such as the Inbox) to display the mailbox contents in the message header pane. Click on an item in the message header field to display the message contents in the message pane.

Occasionally, you'll want to select multiple message headings, for example, to move messages to the trash. To select multiple, contiguous message headings, hold down the Shift key as you click on an item. To select multiple, noncontiguous message headings, hold down the Ctrl key as you click on an item. (On Macintosh, use the Shift key to select noncontiguous items). When two or more message headings are selected, the message pane is empty.

The Mail window and the Message Composition window, described in subsequent sections, contain menu items, toolbar buttons, and clickable icons to let you compose, view, organize, store, and deliver your mail in varied ways. Menu items offer the full set of features. Toolbar buttons provide basic mail features such as getting mail, deleting mail, composing mail, replying to mail, and displaying your messages. Small, clickable icons in the message header pane let you highlight individual messages as read or unread, and flagged or unflagged.

U sing the Mail window

The mailbox pane and message header pane are organized in columns. Columns in the mailbox pane state a mail folder name, the number of unread messages it contains, and the total number of messages it contains. Columns in the message header pane state the sender name, its flagged status, its read status, the subject line, and date.

You can resize panes by positioning your mouse between two panes (the cursor changes shape) and dragging.

You can click on column titles in the message heading pane to temporarily rearrange items according to Sender, Subject, or Date. You can also use the View|Sort hierarchical menu to sort or thread messages so that replies are positioned adjacent to original messages. To arrange messages to your preferred criteria by default (that is, every time you open up the Mail window), you must set the preference items in the Mail and News|Organization panel.

You can resize columns by positioning your mouse between two column headings (the cursor changes shape) and dragging. It's best to adjust the leftmost column first, because resizing a column repositions all the columns to the right. On UNIX, choose Options|Save Options to retain changes.

Choose File|New Folder to display a dialog for creating a folder in the mailbox pane. You can drag messages from the message heading pane into a folder in the mailbox pane. Alternatively, you can select a message, then use the Message|Move hierarchical menu item to put a message into a folder. The Message|Copy item lets you put a copy of a message into a folder without moving the original.

The Edit menu contains items for deleting selected messages and folders. Deleted items are put into a Trash folder. Choose Empty Trash Folder to permanently delete the contents of the trash.

Here are other basic features you'll find in the Mail window:

U sing the Message Composition window

You create and send both email and newsgroup messages in the Message Composition window. Many different actions produce the Message Composition window and, when appropriate, the Netscape application fills in certain fields automatically.

Sometimes you'll see highlighted links in the email and news messages you read. That's because the Netscape software automatically detects the text of a URL and converts the text to an HTML link. Any URL text you enter in the Message Composition window is automatically seen as a highlighted link by the recipient of your message.

Typically, you'll use the Send To field for the address of the primary recipient, the Cc field for additional recipients, the Subject field for briefly describing the message, and the Attachment field for including a page or disk file with the message. If you've specified a text file containing your signature in the Mail and News|Identity panel, your signature is appended to the message field in all of your mailings.

You need to know the Internet mail address of where to send your email. Internet addresses typically contain a user name followed by the at symbol (pronounced "at"), followed by mail server location name. For example, to send email to this company, enter info at netscape.com.

You can create, edit, and store addresses, singly or in a folder list, in the Address Book window. Addresses are maintained in the Address Book window similarly to how bookmarks are maintained in the Bookmark window.

Commonly, you'll send mail by replying to other mail. By default, the original text appears as quoted text (each line preceded by the > symbol), though you can turn this feature off in the Composition panel. You can also quote a message's text by choosing the Message Composition window's File|Include Original Text menu item or paste in a clipboard selection as quoted text by selecting Edit|Paste as Quotation.

Pressing the Attach button produces a dialog box that lets you send email with a file attachment. An attachment is a separate document sent along with the email message. The dialog box buttons let you select a page URL or a file. You can choose to send a page as is (embedded with the HTML instructions that format Internet pages) or converted to plain text. After completing the dialog box (you can list multiple attachments), the attachment is ready to be sent along with your message.

The Mail window offers options that let you send mail immediately or defer delivery. Typically, you'll want to send messages immediately if you're connected to the network. However, to reduce connection time, you can compose messages offline and defer sending mail until the next time you're connected.

When the Mail window's Options|Immediate Delivery menu item is checked, the Message Composition window offers a Send Now toolbar button and menu item ( Send button on Windows and UNIX). This allows messages you've written to be sent over the network immediately. Press the Send Now button or choose File|Send Now to transmit the message and any attachments to the recipient.

When the Mail window's Options|Deferred Delivery menu item is checked, the Message Composition window offers a Send Later toolbar button and menu item ( Send button on Windows; Later button on UNIX). This allows messages you've written to be stored in your Outbox folder (deferred) until you explicitly specify that the contents of the Outbox be sent. Press the Send Later button or choose File|Send Later to store the current message in the Outbox folder on your disk for transmission at a later time. Choose File|Send Mail in Outbox to distribute deferred messages.

R eceiving and sending news

To display the News window, choose Window|Netscape News. The News window operates similarly to the Mail window. If you skipped the previous pages on exchanging and composing mail, you might want to go back and read these now. Like mail, you create your news messages in the Message Composition window.

People post messages (send their news) to newsgroups. Throughout the Internet, you'll find the newsgroup terms "message", "posting", and "article" used interchangeably.

Newsgroups are organized by subject; each newsgroup has a name intended to reflect the topic of discussion for its messages. The Usenet is the collection of all newsgroups; it is the Internet's multifaceted bulletin board especially designed for people to communicate news with one another on special interest topics.

The News window contains three panes: a newsgroup pane, a message header pane, and a message pane. Click on an item in the newsgroup pane to display a listing of messages in the message header pane. Click on an item in the message header field to display each message in the message pane.

When you open the News window, the set of newsgroups you have specified in the Options menu is displayed in the newsgroup pane. You can choose the Show All Newsgroups menu item to see the broadest selection of available groups. However, the number of newsgroups is so large that you might prefer to limit your newsgroup pane to subscribed newsgroups.

You can quickly access your favorite newsgroups without searching through the thousands of available groups by subscribing to newsgroups. The easiest way to subscribe to a newsgroup is to, first, display all newsgroups (choose Options|Show All Newsgroups) in the newsgroup pane, then locate each newsgroup you want ready access to and check the Subscribe check box beside the newsgroup name.

After you subscribe to your favorite newsgroups, you can choose the Options|Show Subscribed Newsgroups or Options|Show Active Newsgroups menu item so that, each time you open the News window, the newsgroup pane displays only your chosen newsgroups. Active newsgroups are subscribed newsgroups that contain new messages.

There are alternative ways to subscribe if you know a newsgroup's URL. Each of the following displays the newsgroup name in the newsgroup pane.

You still must check the Subscribe box if you want the newsgroup to be displayed in the pane in subsequent news sessions.

U sing the News window

The menu items, toolbar buttons, and clickable icons in the News window let you view and compose news messages in much the same way as you do mail messages. Here are the primary difference:

E xploring Usenet news

The URLs of Usenet news are formatted similarly, but not identically, to other pages. For example, the URL news:alt.tv.northern-exp specifies the server protocol news: and the newsgroup alt.tv.northern-exp. Unlike other Internet connections, the URL does not specify a server name and pathname with preceding slashes.

Each newsgroup has a unique name, described with words separated by periods. Some words (like alt, short for alternative, or comp, short for computers) specify categories rather than a particular newsgroup. Note that not all news servers provide access to all newsgroups.

Reading Usenet news can be as easy as reading any other Internet page: Click on a link and bring a Usenet news message to your screen. But newsgroup pages offer advantages (notably the ability to easily publish your own writing to other newsgroup readers) and disadvantages (no images, weak formatting, and limited links).

Typically, each newsgroup presents its messages along threads. A thread bundles a message with a response to the message. The grouping of a new topic with one or more responses to the topic (in indented outline form) presents messages in a topical context. A strictly chronological organization of every newsgroup contribution would create a discombobulated trail of messages less pleasant than reading Joyce in his later years.

When you subscribe to a newsgroup, the name of the newsgroup is added to a list (a News file; also called a News RC or newsrc file), maintained by the Netscape software. On Windows and UNIX, you can specify the location of your News file in the Servers panel. On Macintosh, the News file is stored in the Netscape folder within your system's Preferences folder.

The process for retrieving information from news servers has a significant difference than the process for retrieving information from World Wide Web servers. News messages are collected and automatically distributed at periodic intervals, en masse, among news servers throughout the Usenet. When you supply a URL to request newsgroup messages, your request is routed to the news server provided by your service provider, which has accumulated messages throughout the Usenet system. In contrast, when you supply a URL to request a particular Web page, your request is routed to the single Web site whose server distributes the page.

Likewise, a news message that you send goes to your service provider's news server, whereupon the message is automatically distributed at periodic intervals to other participating Usenet news servers. Other Usenet readers can then access your news message from their local news server.

This batch processing of Usenet news permits distribution efficiencies. For example, a popular Web site can get inundated with requests for pages. However, a popular newsgroup is broadly distributed by the entire network of participating news servers.

Your request for either Web pages or news messages contains some identifying information about the requesting computer. With Web pages, request information is conveyed to Web site that serves a page. With news, request information is conveyed to your provider's news server.

S aving pages

Netscape software gives you the opportunity to save a page as a file on your computer. You can do this after or instead of bringing the page to your screen.

Some links, for example those that transport software, sound, or movie files, don't transmit pages. You can often identify these links by noticing a URL that begins with ftp or ends with a file-type suffix such as au or mpeg. Clicking on these links can automatically download (save) a file to disk and launch helper applications that support the file's format. Most links, however, point to pages that you can bring to your screen or specifically save on your disk.

The File|Save as menu item produces a dialog box that lets you save the current page as a source (HTML) file or a text file on your disk. (On UNIX, you can also save in PostScript format.) A file saved in HTML source format retains the formatting of the original page. A file saved in text format is presented as plain text. You can save an image file, but not a page's inline images.

When you view a page containing frames, the File|Save Frame as menu item replaces File|Save as and lets you save only the page of a currently selected frame. The dialog box options for saving the page are unchanged.

By using a pop-up menu item, you can save a page as a disk file instead of bringing the page to the screen. While pointing over a link, click on the right mouse button (on Macintosh, hold down the mouse button) to pop up the menu. The Save this Link as item saves to disk (instead of bringing to screen) the page whose link you are clicking on. The Save this Image as item saves to disk (instead of bringing to screen) the image whose link you are clicking on.

Saving to disk is particularly useful for retrieving a nonformatted page (such as a data file) not intended for viewing. You can also produce the dialog box for saving a page to disk by clicking on a link with the Shift key held down (option key on Macintosh). Other pop-up menu items let you copy page and image locations (URLs) to the clipboard.

After saving a file to disk, you can use the File|Open File menu item to display the local file as a Netscape page. (A file on your disk is a local file; a file out on the network is a remote file.) For GIF, JPEG, or other nontext files to appear as available files in the Open File dialog, make sure to select "All Files" as the file type (on Macintosh, hold down the Option key while selecting the Open File menu item).

The View|Document Source menu item lets you view the current page in HTML source format. By default, source text is displayed in a window. On Windows and Macintosh, you can override the default source viewer by specifying a supporting text application (such as your word processor) in the View Source field of the General|Applications panel. Subsequently, when you choose View|Document Source, the HTML text appears in a window of your selected application.

The File|Mail Document menu item produces a window that lets you send the current page URL along with an email attachment of the page. The Window|Bookmarks menu item produces a window that lets you save page links in a file.

Note: Netscape software works on several computer platforms and reserves the use of a few special characters to help interpret URLs. To avoid problems, don't use the following characters when you create a file name:

P rinting and finding

Many of the File and Edit menu items in the Netscape application work as they do on other applications. To print the contents of the current page, choose File|Print or press the Print button in the toolbar. A Print dialog box lets you select printing options and begin printing. On Windows, you can choose File|Print Preview to see a screen display of a printed page.

When you view a page containing frames, you'll see the File|Print Frame menu item in place of File|Print. The command lets you print only the page of a currently selected frame. The dialog box options for printing the page are unchanged.

When printing a page, the Netscape application formats content according to the size of the printed page rather than the size of the onscreen window. The print command rearranges the page layout (text is wordwrapped and graphics are repositioned) in order to accommodate paper size.

To set up the page for printing, choose File|Page Setup. You can use this command to choose landscape printing (across the long side of paper) instead of the more common portrait orientation.

To cut, copy, and paste, choose the respective items from the Edit menu. Note that Cut and Paste items are only effective in certain editable fields. The content area is a read-only field that only enables you to select and copy text for use elsewhere.

To find a word or phrase within a page, choose or press the Find button in the toolbar. A Find dialog box lets you enter the string of characters you wish to find. Check the Match case radio button ( Case Sensitive on the Macintosh and UNIX) to require capital letters to match.

On Windows, check the Up or Down radio button to direct the search toward the beginning or end of the document. If there is a current selection, the search begins at the selection and does not wrap around. On Macintosh and UNIX, check the Find Backwards check box to start the search from the beginning or end of the document.

To find the same word or phrase again, choose Edit|Find Again.

I dentifying secure information

Netscape software allows computers to transfer information in a secure way that prevents the forms you send or the pages you receive from being misappropriated. Security issues arise because information travelling on the Internet usually take a circuitous route through several intermediary computers to reach any destination computer. The actual route your information takes to reach its destination is not under your control.

As your information travels on Internet computers, any intermediary computer has the potential to eavesdrop and make copies. An intermediary computer could even deceive you and exchange information with you by misrepresenting itself as your intended destination. These possibilities make the transfer of confidential information such as passwords or credit card numbers susceptible to abuse.

The Netscape application and Netscape server use patented RSA public key cryptographic technology and custom software to allow you to send and receive information securely. The security protocols are open.

Only your computer and the server can encrypt and decrypt your information. In transit, the information is an unreadable jumble. An intermediary can continue to route the data, and even make copies of it, but the information cannot be decrypted and remains private and safely communicated.

As part of the cryptographic technology, the Netscape application and Netscape server are able to authenticate Internet servers. This prevents an intermediary computer from posing as your destination.

Not all exchanges of information are secure. Netscape uses graphical elements and dialog boxes to inform you when you are interacting with secure and insecure server sites.

You can examine the security qualifications of a document in more detail by choosing View|Document Info. The resulting dialog box tells you about encryption grade and server certification. You can view information about a particular site certificate or certificate authority in the Security|Site Certificate panel.

U nderstanding public key technology

The public key technology working within the Netscape application and Netscape server is often described with unfamiliar security terminology. You might find the explanation of how public keys works an interesting supplement to your knowledge of Internet security.

A computer's security key is a file. You don't open a key (file) like you open a document or a word processor application. Keys are more like magnetic badges with powerful encryption and decryption capabilities.

There are two kinds of keys, private and public, and you need both. A private key sits on your computer and you never give it out. A public key you can make as many copies of it as you wish and give it out to everybody.

You need both kinds of keys because they are fundamentally linked. (Like a pair of pants, you always buy both legs.) You can pass your public key around to whomever you wish, but in order for any key to perform its decryption duty, it must be matched back to its linked key partner.

Both public and private keys have the ability to encrypt and (as a set) decrypt information. Keys work in two primary ways:

  1. Other users can encrypt information with your public key (the key you've distributed freely) and send the information securely to you. Only you, with your private key, can decrypt their message. The sender can be sure that the message is read only by you (encrypted for privacy) and has not been altered.
  2. You can encrypt information with your private key and send the information securely over the network. Anyone on the network who has your public key (the key you've distributed freely) can decrypt your message. The recipient can be sure that the message came only from you (authenticated with your digital signature) and has not be altered.
In summary, your public and private key (files) are linked by a powerful cryptographic algorithm that would require major computer resources to crack. No one else's keys can decipher messages to you encrypted with your public key. And no one else's keys can be used to pose as you by sending messages encrypted with your private key.

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