Advanced Netscape -- Helper Applications

       Netscape Navigator allows you to access every type of file on the Internet, but it can only display certain kinds of files by itself (text, HTML, gif, jpg, etc.).  When it is faced with a sound, image, or video file, (for example), it opens another program to run that file for it.  Most of these programs (called helper apps) are shareware or freeware that can be found on the Internet.   If your browser isn't already configured to use a particular helper app, you can set it up yourself. 
       Here's how:

       Click on the Edit menu of Netscape, and choose Preferences from the drop-down menu.  Another dialog box will pop up.

editmenu.jpg (18018 bytes)

appmenu.jpg (29714 bytes)

       Find the Navigator listing in the left pane of the dialog box.  If there's a + symbol next to the word Navigator, click on it to open it up.  Once it's opened, click on the word Applications and the window will change to a window like the one to the left.

       We're going to first check to see if your Netscape browser supports a certain type of file, then we're going to configure it and read the file.


       Here's the scenario.

       Someone has placed a link to an .rtf file on their website, but you don't know what that is.  If you click on the link, Netscape will look at the filename, look in its database, and open the file automatically if it is configured to read that file.  If it isn't configured for it, Netscape will send a request to Netscape's server, check on the latest info for that file type, and open a window informing you that you may need a "plug-in", or telling you you may need to configure your browser to handle that app, often giving you suggestions.


       Before you click on the file, though.  If you're really curious, you can follow the steps above, and scroll down the list of applications to see if ".rtf" is listed.  On a Windows computer, it probably won't be, but Rich Text Format (notice the acronym RTF) is listed.   When you click on the listing, the description below the widow tells you that Microsoft Word is set up to handle .rtf files. 

       So, when you click on the file in your browser, it should open it, right?

rtflisting.jpg (26670 bytes)

openrtf.jpg (32617 bytes)

       When you click on the file, you get the dialog box to the left.  The warning message is always there, and shouldn't be taken lightly.  Many of the current crop of viruses are transmitted through Microsoft Word, Excel, Exchange, or Outlook files or other executable programs.  To be truly safe, you should save it to disk, then scan it for viruses, not running it until you are sure it's not infected.

       If you are certain it's safe, though, click OK and it will open the file in Microsoft Word.  Try it.


       Other helper apps work the same way, allowing you to add to the functionality of your browser by extending its capabilitites.

From the Folks at Netscape:

       You'll have to find an archive site that serves up applications for your platform:

There are also several sites that have software for a variety of platforms.

       Once you've downloaded the helper applications, you'll need to configure them.  Netscape has put together a short
helper document showing examples of setting up helper apps on all platforms, as well as a definitive list of media types and their various file formats.

Helper Document
Media Types

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This page was last edited on June 21, 2001



These pages were developed through GirlTECH, a teacher-training program sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Education (CEEE) with support  from the National Science Foundation through EOT-PACI.
Copyright   Michael Sirois and Susan Boone, GirlTECH, June 2001.

last edited, ms  6-21-2001, 22:24.