Understanding the Browser Address Bar

Many people misuse the browser address bar by typing in the names of sites instead of complete URLs. In the address bar you can type a search term, domain name, or a full webpage address. But if you simply type in the name of a site, you will get search results instead of going to that site.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Understanding the Browser Address Bar.

Let's talk about web browsing. When you browse the web your primary tool is this text field here. Sometimes it's called the address field, the address bar, search box, all sorts of different things. There's just this one field here to type something in the top and what you type starts you off looking at things on the web.

There are two very different type of things you can type in here. One is a search term. Another is an actual location on the web. An address sometimes called a URL, Universal Resource Locator. So, for instance, if you wanted to search for something you would type a series of words. Then you hit Return. Notice it tells you right here that's it's going to search. Search Goggle. You get a page of search results. Let's close the sidebar there and you can see your search results. You haven't actually gone anywhere yet. All you've done is go to a page on Goggle which has given you search results. From here you can click on one of those to go to a webpage.

Now alternatively the second thing you can do with this is enter a web address. So you can enter an address like macmost.com. Now there's a big difference here between typing just macmost and macmost.com. Notice when I type macmost it still says Search Goggle. I haven't typed a valid web address. All valid web addresses start with a domain name like macmost.com. It got to have either .com, .org, .edu, .gov, .net. There's a ton of other ones. .TV, etc. But it has got to be dot something. It has got to be the actual address of the webpage. So notice if I just type macmost and I don't have a period anywhere followed by something like .co or .com it's going to assume I want to search.

So this is a problem a lot of people have. A lot of people say I want to go to this website called macmost and they search Goggle for it instead of just going directly there. If you type macmost.com it actually goes to macmost.com. This goes for any website on the internet.

Now in addition to going to a domain name, like macmost.com, which will take you to the front page of any website, you can go directly to a page. For instance, if I were to click here and go to this page and look here at the top I would see a complete URL which is macmost.com/ and then the page location that usually ends with a dot html or .htm. It doesn't really have to be anything specific but there does have to be something after the slash.

Now you probably don't know the location of most web pages but if you did you could actually type them. So, for instance, I'll go somewhere else. Let me just clear this page. If I went in here and typed or pasted that full address to that page I could go directly to that page. One of the things that further confuses people is they don't see this entire address up here. You can see it when I do it and the reason for that is if I go to Safari Preferences under Advanced I have checked Show full website address. If I turn that off you can see it's going to show me macmost.com no matter where I am inside that site. So I've turned that on so you can see clearly where you're at.

But the most important take away from this is that if you're going to go to a website when you start typing the name sometimes you get a little, you know, hint where it gives you the dot com afterwards. But sometimes you don't, like that. In that case you have to put on the dot com yourself otherwise you're going to go to a search result and not the actual website and it's going to take a whole additional step. It may take a little extra time for this page to load. You may actually get other results at the top that aren't what you want.

So you definitely want to keep in mind that when you're typing an address to type the whole thing.

Comments: 3 Responses to “Understanding the Browser Address Bar”

    Luke Thomas
    2 years ago

    Very nice hints–I didn’t know about switching on the full address in the Advanced icon. Thanks!

    2 years ago

    I’m sure you know this already, but rather than typing .com at the end of the domain name I simply type the forward slash, example: macmost/ is the same as typing macmost.com (at least in Safari)

    2 years ago

    nick: Interesting. Thanks for sharing that. It looks like it takes the / as an indicator that you want to do a URL, not a search. Then it kinda autocorrects the domain by adding a .com — though it may just add the most obvious one since it adds .org when you try wikipedia/

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