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Navigation

  • Definition: finding your way around a complex system of menus, help files, or the WORLD WIDE WEB. This can be a real challenge, but there are a few tricks to help you. • Menu navigation. Learning how to navigate menus requires an adventurous spirit. Make yourself a map (if there’s not one already in the manual), as any good explorer would do. Sometimes the logic of grouping certain commands together will not be apparent to you and you’ll have to learn some rather arbitrary distinctions. The best defense is to be familiar with your software. If you know that there is a command to do whirligigs, but can’t remember whether it’s under File or Arrange, it’s only a matter of a fraction of a second to look under both categories. Menus can nest like wooden Russian dolls. One will lead to another in a rather infuriating way. Just remember to take one thing at a time. After making your decisions at each level, click OK. If you’ve gotten lost in the menus, you can back out at any time by choosing Cancel. Note: if you cancel out, the changes you made will not take place. Be aware that menus can interconnect at lower levels. This means that there can be more than one way into the same DIALOG BOX. • Help and hypertext files. Programs for viewing HYPERTEXT files usually have a command called Back that allows you to backtrack to the previous screens. This is similar to Tom Sawyer using a rope to find his way around caves. A frequent frustration is to have a vague memory of a subject you read about yesterday, but can’t remember how to get there. Some programs have bookmarks to mark important sections; use them. Also, familiarize yourself with the search capabilities of the hypertext system; it can save you a lot of time. As always, a good index is worth its weight in gold. If the index is too general to be useful, write a complaint to the software vendor. (If enough users complain, something might be done.) In the meantime, you may want to make a few notes on an index card and slip it into the manual. • World Wide Web. The links that make up the World Wide Web can lead you literally in thousands of different directions from any starting point. When searching for information on a particular topic, use one of the standard web search engines such as Yahoo!, Lycos, Google, or Excite (try www.search.com to access the major indexes). See SEARCH ENGINE to get specific search tips. When browsing the WWW for pleasure, you may want to explore a JUMP LIST; most service providers have one. Usually, a web site will contain a page of new links to follow. (This will take care of all the rest of your free time.) When you find a web page you think you’ll want to return to, bookmark it, or add it to your Favorites folder. During the same web-surfing session, you can also use the Back and Forward buttons on your browser. Back returns you to the previous web page; after backing up, you can use Forward to retrace your steps. Your browser maintains a list of where you’ve been (the HISTORY FOLDER). The most recently visited sites are a mouse-click away under the Go menu.

    Source: Downing, Douglas, et al. Dictionary of Computer and Internet Terms. 10th ed. New York, 2009. Print.

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