Browser Basics:
Address Paths

Title: Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101
españolIcon: Change web
Did you want IE9+, Chrome, Firefox; Notepad? Icon: Change web

Paths to Files and Folders

In the Address Bar you can also type the path to a folder or a file. This lets you work in the IE window with some things besides web pages. However, you may think you have lost your browser! The toolbar may change considerably.

How confusing is it?

A normal URL to a page on the Web looks like:  
It starts with the protocol, then the domain name, then the path to the particular page.

A path to a file on your computer looks like:
 c:\My Documents\complit101\mypage.htm  

A path to a folder on your computer looks like:
 c:\My Documents\complit101\  

How is a path is different from a URL? The slashes go the other direction. There is a drive letter instead of a protocol. Subtle but very important differences.

Where you are:
JegsWorks > Lessons > Web

Before you start...

Project 1: Browser Basics    ConnectingTo subtopics
    IE InterfaceTo subtopics
    Navigating Arrow - Subtopic open
    icon-footprintAddress Bar
    icon-footprintAddress Paths
    PrintingTo subtopics
    SavingTo subtopics
    SearchingTo subtopics
    ExercisesTo subtopics

Project 2: HTML BasicsTo subtopics


What can happen?

If you enter the path to a file or to just a folder in the Address Bar, what you see may puzzle you. Here are the possibilities.

Path to File:
  • Some programs, like Word and Excel, will use the IE window to display the document.

    WarningThese programs may change the menu bar or add their own toolbars to the window. This is very useful since you can edit the document right in the IE window. It can look weird though!
  • The file will open in the program associated with that file extension, if IE cannot display the file in its own window 
Path to Folder:

IE will show what's in that folder, just like Explorer and My Computer do when using Web view. The toolbar will show Explorer buttons.

Internet Explorer showing folder contents

Warning  Surprise! The list of addresses in the drop list changes to a folder tree. 

How to get back to IE if the toolbars changed?

  • Use the Back button.
  • If you are already looking at the drop list of sites on the Address Bar, scroll to the bottom of the tree. Click on Internet Explorer icon the IE icon and you are returned to your Home page. Success!

Icon Step-by-Step 

Step-by-Step: Address Bar Paths

 Icon Step-by-Step

What you will learn:

to enter a path
to return to IE interface

 Start with:    Internet Explorer open

Your browser can display some kinds of files on your hard drive. It can be quite a shock, if you are not expecting some of the changes that occur when you do this.

In IE: Text File

  1. IE4 showning the file General.txtIn the Address Bar type the full path  C:/Windows/General.txt and press ENTER. In most cases, this plain text file displays right in the browser window instead of opening another program. The extension txt is one that IE understands, so it can display the file contents.

    The toolbar buttons do not change for a text file.

    Warning Be careful to use the forward slash that is used for web addresses instead of the backslash that is used for a path on your computer. If you use backslashes, Notepad or another text editor will open and display the file. This time we don't want that.

In IE: Word doc

This part assumes that you have some version of Word installed on your computer

  1. Icon - Key combo Open a new browser window with the key combo CTRL + n.
  2. In the Address Bar of the new window, type the path to the Word document
     C:\My Documents\complit101\word\Win98 article.doc . Watch the spacing!

    This file is in the resource files that you installed on your hard drive.

    If you don't have this file, you may use the URL Win98 article.doc

    Word document in IE window The document opens in the browser window instead of starting up Word.

  3. Look at the window. What has changed? What is the same?

    The red arrows point out features from Word: Word's menu, a new button, rulers, and Word's buttons at the right and bottom left

  4. Open each of the menus to see the commands. Internet Explorer's or Word's?
  5. Word doc in IE with Word toolbarsClick on Tools button the new button Tools. Surprise! Word toolbars appear. Now you have the formatting and editing features of Word, without having to open a separate program.

    The downside is that all these bars take up lots of room, and confuse the eye.

In IE: Folder

  1. Internet Explorer with path to a folder in Address BarIn the Address Bar type the partial path  C:/Windows  and press ENTER.

    What has changed?

  2. Open the menus. Which have changed?

    The Status Bar is different. The Toolbar now shows Explorer buttons and the window shows the contents of the folder Windows. Wow! That will make your heart pound if you aren't expecting it!!

  3. Icon for  file General.txt Scroll down the window until you find the file General.txt and then double-click it. (If you have trouble finding it, rearrange the icons by Name  View  |  Arrange  |  by Name . Then the files will be in alphabetical order.)

    The program that is associated with the extension txt (Notepad by default) will open and display the file. Did you think the file would show up in the same window as the icon? Not this time. The window behaves like Explorer instead of like Internet Explorer. (Even the names are confusing now!)

  4. Close Notepad.

Return to Browser Interface

  1. Address Bar drop list with Explorer foldersClick on the arrow at the end of the Address Bar. A change! The drop list now shows the hierarchy of folders on your computer instead of the addresses that you typed. A person could get really confused!

    How can you get back to the regular Internet Explorer from here??

  2. Select Internet Explorer in list Internet Explorer from the drop list. The window returns to Internet Explorer and shows your Home page.
  3. Back button - list after Address PathsOpen the drop list for the Back button. It shows all the places you've been, including the Word document and the Windows folder.

    Tip Another way to return to IE is to use the Back button on the Toolbar to return to a previous HTML page. You will lose the items you skip in the Back button list, however.