Everyone has their preferences related to web browsers, but regardless of whether you like Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or something else, you may not have realized some of the fancy things that your browser can do. From text editing to mathematical problem solving, have a look at our list of 3 top browser secret powers.
For this “Top 3” list, we’ll focus on the secret powers of the browser address bar. Google Chrome users will recognize this as the Omnibox, but the address bar is where you will type in the URL of your favorite website, or in many cases, you will type in your desired search terms. Each of the major browsers will deliver the requested website (if your URL is well formed) or use your default search engine to suggest URLs that you might want to follow. But let’s look at what you get when you put some special syntax into the address bars of IE, Firefox, and Chrome.
Accessing Local Files
Most file systems have a useful (although sometimes overly complex) file browsing tool, and so do the major web browsers. Type in “file:///c:/” in the address bar of a web browser and you’ll quickly be presented with the contents of the local filesystem, where you can navigate through the folder structure. This works in both Chrome and Firefox, while Internet Explorer will launch Windows Explorer to let you do your file browsing (remember when Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer were one and the same?).
Simple Text Editing
Sometimes you just need to take a quick note, jot down a thought, or have somewhere to paste what’s on your clipboard so you don’t lose it. This trick doesn’t work in Internet Explorer, but it works well in both Firefox and Chrome. Type “data:text/html, <html contenteditable>” into the address bar, hit TAB, and start making plain text or HTML notes. You can get to this capability even faster by making this “site” into a bookmark. One quick click on your text editing bookmark, and you’re off to the races.
Solving Math and Conversion Problems
When you need a quick answer to a math problem, you have many places to turn these days (desk calculator, mobile phone, Windows Calculator, the person in the next cubicle, etc.), but you probably didn’t know you could turn to your browser. Actually, the browser isn’t going to solve your math or conversion problem, but it will interpret your query and pass it to your default search engine to let the search engine solve it for you. Here are some quick examples of what you can put into the address bar, and the results you get:
- “SQRT(9)” yields “3” (and several other search results)
- “what is 2 raised to the 8th power?” yields “256”
- “COS(0)” yields “1” in Chrome, but only search results in Firefox and IE
- “how many miles in 12 parsecs?” yields “2.30082139 × 1014 miles”
Hopefully you’ve found something new and useful in our Top 3 Browser Secret Powers list. As always, please feel free to leave us a comment below, or to drop us a line.