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eBay.co.uk Business All-in-One For Dummies®

Table of Contents

eBay.co.uk Business All-in-One For Dummies®

by Marsha Collier, Kim Gilmour and Steve Hill

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About the Authors

Marsha Collier, one of the foremost eBay experts and educators in the world, is also a top-selling eBay author with over 1 million copies of her books in print. She is especially proud of two books: eBay For Dummies, the bestselling book for eBay beginners, and eBay PowerSeller Business Practices For Dummies.

Marsha intermixes her writing about eBay with her role as experienced spokesperson on the subject. She was one of the original eBay University instructors, as well as a regular presenter at eBay’s annual convention, eBay Live. While travelling across the United States and around the world, she makes regular appearances on television, radio and in print to discuss online commerce.

Marsha earned her eBay stripes as a longtime seller on the site. She began her eBay selling career in 1996 to earn extra money for her daughter’s education (and eventually paid for university with her eBay earnings). She grew her business to a full-time venture and was one of the first eBay PowerSellers. Nowadays, you can find everything from autographed copies of her books to photo supplies, pet toys, and DVDs in her eBay shop (‘Marsha Collier’s Fabulous Finds’) and on her website.

Marsha currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. You can contact Marsha via her website, .

Steve Hill is a lecturer in journalism at Southampton Solent University and is a co-author of eBay.co.uk For Dummies (Wiley). He has held senior editorial positions at Internet Made Easy and Internet Magazine and has also written on a freelance basis for numerous publications, including The Independent, Sunday Express and New Media Age. He lives in Walton-On-Thames, Surrey.

Kim Gilmour is a freelance journalist and author specialising in technology and the Internet.

She has been demystifying the internet for more than ten years. Her past roles include assistant editor at an Australian business technology title, features editor and writer at the UK’s Internet Magazine, and senior researcher for Which? Computing, a sister title to the consumer publication, Which?.

Kim first discovered eBay in 1999, when she found it an ideal way to sell off the old music and TV magazines she’d been hoarding. She once sold an empty box on eBay for £20 to a vintage games collector (it had originally come with an Octopus Game and Watch she’d lost back in the mid-1980s).

You can reach Kim at .

Acknowledgements

From Marsha: Writing a book is a monumental task. Lots of people have helped, but the lion’s share of assistance comes from the encouragement that I receive from the eBay community and those I’ve met when ‘doing it eBay’.

If it weren’t for Patti ‘Louise’ Ruby’s friendship and support as the tech editor, I think I might have lost my mind. She helped me keep on top of the many changes on the eBay site and never said no to my seemingly endless requests.

Once again, I was blessed to work with Leah Cameron and Barry Childs-Helton. Working with Leah is a dream. She’s there to lend her unique style of savvyness to my words. She truly ‘gets it’ like no one else. And Barry cleans up after us both.

Then, of course, I thank the management at Wiley. Andy Cummings and Steven Hayes both work hard to fill the world with instructional and entertaining books.

From Steve: Special thanks to Isabel Atherton at Creative Authors for her encouragement, friendship and general enthusiasm for everything eBay.

This book would never have happened without the patience and support of Sam Spickernell, Rachael Chilvers and everyone who carried out editing and production work at Wiley. Also, special thanks to my fellow author Kim for her friendship over the years.

I am indebted to my colleagues at Southampton Solent University’s journalism department, in particular to Fiona Western who offers cake and encouragement at just the right moments. Lastly, but very importantly, a very big hug to Tina.

From Kim: Big thanks to my co-author and friend Steve Hill, for his insight into working on a Dummies guide, and to our agent Isabel Atherton, for her support. Andy Geldman’s knowledge about auction management tools really helped me put that chapter together – much appreciated. And thank you to Rachael Chilvers and Samantha Spickernell of Wiley for their encouragement throughout this long yet rewarding project!

Most of all, I’m grateful to my parents, Brian and Liem Gilmour, for their support and sound business sense which has hugely influenced me. Java Bazaar, their small shop in Sydney, Australia, sold beautiful Indonesian handicrafts and clothes they imported directly from Bali and other exotic places. So, from birth I was always surrounded by carvings, frocks, cardboard boxes, sales reports, business strategy discussions and a parade of customers – right until my parents retired in 2003. Their creative, down-to-earth approach to selling merchandise translates well to the eBay environment, and I wouldn’t have been able to contribute to this book without those things in mind. Thank you for that.

Publisher’s Acknowledgements

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our Dummies online registration form located at .

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Commissioning, Editorial, and Media Development

Project Editor: Rachael Chilvers

Content Editor: Jo Theedom

Proofreader: David Price

Commissioning Editor: Sam Spickernell

Executive Project Editor: Daniel Mersey

Screenshots: These materials have been reproduced with the permission of eBay Inc. Copyright © eBay Inc. All rights reserved.

Cover Photos: PhotoAlto/Odilon Dimier

Cartoons: Ed McLachlan

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Lynsey Stanford

Layout and Graphics: Samantha K. Allen, Ana Carrillo, Reuben W. Davis, Sarah Philippart

Proofreader: Caitie Copple

Indexer: Ty Koontz

Introduction

It seems we’re always writing books about eBay. That’s because eBay changes from year to year (as does the online market) and we like our books to be the most updated in the arena.

We give you the ins and outs selling on eBay, based on our daily experiences of the site. We also stay on top of the current trends in online and social marketing, test them out and pass the results back to you. This book gives you more information than even many longtime sellers know.

Those of us who run an eBay business always seem to be doing something. Buying, selling, even going on a holiday, our business keeps humming. There’s no 9-to-5, no weekends or holidays. Our shops on eBay are always open for business – making sales and making us money.

Alas, all that success and freedom takes some work. That’s why you have this book to help you along.

About This Book

This book gives you the basics, the hows and whys of setting up a home-based business on eBay. We know how to run an eBay business, and write best-selling books and articles on the subject. This book gives you the information you need to get started in one handy (albeit heavy) volume. You can get the info found in several books about eBay all in one place.

We hope you’ll find this book really useful. If some of it seems too basic (say, if you’re a more advanced seller), just skip right on to the information that your business needs.

Sidebars are scattered through the book with additional information on a subject. If you want to know the subject in depth, read the sidebar. If it’s not important to you right now, skip it.

You certainly don’t need to read this book from cover to cover. Check out the Table of Contents and see whether something piques your interest. Have a question about eBay? Look it up in the index. This book is meant to be your useful desk reference on eBay.

Foolish Assumptions

While writing this book, we’ve made a few assumptions about you. Because you bought this book, naturally we assume you’re an intelligent person with refined tastes. Joking aside, that may well be true – but the main assumption we make is that you want to find out more about eBay.

We assume also that you:

Have a computer and an Internet connection

Are comfortable browsing the Internet

Are familiar with email

Are looking for a way to make some extra money

You’ve probably sold a few items and made some money. Perhaps you think eBay just might be a good place to earn a regular stream of extra income. It also helps if you’ve read the current edition of eBay.co.uk For Dummies – where you get the basics of eBay.

If you can accept that nothing comes without a bit of effort, you might just be on the track of a new career.

How This Book Is Organised

Here, in one volume, are nine individual minibooks related to becoming an expert on eBay. Each book is broken down into individual chapters to give you more in-depth information on the subject at hand. Here’s the lineup.

Book I: eBay Basics

Book I provides the beginning-level stuff you have to know to make your way on eBay. Sure, you can do business on eBay and not know all the small details, but knowledge is power; this book has the information that can give you the winning edge over other sellers. Even if you’ve been on eBay for a while, you might just discover a few things reading this book.

Book II: Essential Tools

Using eBay means using some of the basic tools that eBay has developed for buyers and sellers. In Book II, you research prices (for buying or selling), find an item (no matter how badly the seller mislisted it), and use PayPal with ease. You’ll also find out how an Internet search can help you with your eBay business.

Also, there’s a chapter on effective eBay communications. Sounds a bit stuffy perhaps, but your email communications are the cornerstone of your eBay business.

Book III: Selling Like a Pro

Anyone can list an item for sale on eBay, but after you read the information in Book III, you’ll be among the elite who can squeeze extra profits from your sales. You also find out how to use advanced eBay tools that can cut your work time to a fraction of what other sellers spend.

Book IV: Sourcing Merchandise

The number one question that people ask us is ‘What should I sell on eBay?’ We think it’s intuitive, but then again, we’re shopaholics. Book IV gives you the tools for finding the right items to please your customers and make regular sales. The information in this book is not just someone’s theory. Instead, it comes directly from professional retailers, people who are successes on eBay!

Book V: Presenting Your Items

All the salesmanship in the world won’t sell your items if your pictures are fuzzy and your auctions look amateurish. Book V covers some basic HTML, so you can give your auctions some extra pizzazz. You’ll also uncover the photography secrets of eBay pros.

Book VI: Promoting Your Goods

After you have some items selling well on eBay, it’s time to expand your horizons. Find out how to use marketing tools to let the world know about your eBay sales and shop. Start a website! A website can be a small investment that can up your monthly profits without increasing your workload. The Internet is open to the world – use it to bring more customers to your door.

Book VII: Storing and Shipping

Storing and shipping may not be the sexiest topics in the world, but they are two places where many eBay businesses fall down. In Book VII, see how some of eBay’s biggest PowerSellers organise their merchandise. Find out how you can turn your shipping area from a headache into a profitable centre.

Book VIII: Powerful Selling

Step up your sales to the next level. Become a PowerSeller, open an eBay shop. Book VIII shows you how to grab information from your sales statistics and ramp up your profits.

Book IX: Office and Legal

The back of this book concerns the back end of your business: the boring yet essential responsibilities (bookkeeping, taxes and so on) that keep everything smoothly ticking. And the more successful you become, the more you need to follow the rules. Read Book IX to understand the rules for your business. Successful is as successful does.

Icons Used in This Book

Those familiar with the For Dummies series know there are little icons to draw your attention to special comments. Following are the ones we use, along with what they mean.

auctionanecdote.eps This icon indicates a story about a real event. It may have been one of Marsha, Steve or Kim’s auctions or one from a fellow user. We hope you find the story interesting and learn from another user’s mistake (or sheer luck).

Remember.eps This icon is a friendly reminder to keep in mind the short fact that follows. You’ll be ahead of the game if you remember it.

Tip.eps Here are a few words from us to you, to help you do things the easy way. We’ve made the mistakes, but you don’t have to make them too.

Warning(bomb).eps This little bomb of a fact will keep you out of trouble. Often these facts are not generally known. Be sure to read them to avoid common pitfalls.

Where to Go from Here

It’s time to open the book and dive in. Use the index and Table of Contents to jump to whatever you need. We hope this book helps you make a real success of your eBay business.

Book I

eBay Basics

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In this book . . .

Welcome to Book I, your launch pad for all things eBay. In this book we prepare you for lift-off by making sure you have all you need to start your eBay business.

Here are the contents of Book I at a glance:

Chapter 1: Hooking Up with Online Technology

Chapter 2: Navigating through eBay

Chapter 3: Signing Up and Getting Started

Chapter 4: Understanding eBay Sales

Chapter 5: Checking Out the Seller and Leaving Feedback

Chapter 6: Bidding to Win

Chapter 7: Completing the Transaction

Chapter 8: Participating in the Community

Chapter 1: Hooking Up with Online Technology

In This Chapter

Setting up your hardware

Going online without your own computer

Choosing your Internet service provider

Getting email

Getting friendly with your browser

Rest assured, you don’t need to know much technology (in the true sense of the word) to run a successful online business. Most online sellers have no more techie knowledge than you’ll have after you’ve read this chapter. In this chapter we explain the home computer and Internet service provider (ISP) requirements you need for eBay, and the alternatives available if you don’t have your own computer.

Starting with the Right Computer

You don’t have to know a lot of fancy computer mumbo-jumbo to do well on eBay, but you must have a computer – or at least access to one. If you’re in the market for a computer, you can buy a new, used or refurbished system, depending on your computing needs.

Covering the absolute necessities

Although the following list is geared mainly towards the purchase of a new home computer – which you can buy for considerably less than £500 these days – we recommend you read this info even if you’re thinking of buying a used one:

Look for lots of memory. Random-access memory (RAM) is cheap these days. If you buy a brand-new home computer we suggest you look for at least 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM.

Stack up on storage. The more time you spend on your computer, the more stuff you want to save on your hard drive. The more stuffed your hard drive, the more it struggles to operate effectively. A hard drive with at least 60 GB of storage space should keep your computer happy, but you can get hard drives as big as 250 GB or more. We recommend you buy the biggest hard drive you can afford because, no matter how large your hard drive is, you’ll find a way to fill it up.

Opt for a top-quality modem if you have a dial-up connection. Your modem connects your computer to the Internet using your telephone line. Even if you have a broadband connection (see the later section ‘Choosing an ISP’), make sure you have a modem (usually built in to most computers) that can connect you on the off chance that your high-speed service is down. (A modem transfers data over phone lines at a rate of kilobytes per second, or just plain K.)

Go large. An LCD monitor that has at least a 17-inch screen can make a huge difference after several hours of rabid bidding or proofreading your auction item descriptions. Anything smaller and you have a hard time actually seeing the listings and images.

Find a fast central processing unit (CPU). The CPU is your computer’s brain and heart. Buy the fastest CPU you can afford. The speed is measured in gigahertz (GHz). CPU prices fall all the time and a home computer with an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz processor – perfect for most eBay tasks – will set you back as little as £200. You may want faster listings, so speed freaks should go for the latest Intel Core 2 Quad processor, which appears in desktop computers starting at around £500.

Choose a CD-R/DVD-R drive. A disc burner is standard equipment on home computers these days. You use the drive to load new software programs into your computer from compact discs. You can also use the CDs or DVDs for your backups. Most models play and record DVD movies on your computer, but we think you’ll be so entertained by eBay that you can skip the frills and save the pennies. Most modern home computers also have memory card readers that let you transfer images of your products from your digital camera to your computer.

Make sure you have a keyboard. No keyboard, no typing. A basic keyboard is fine – you can pick one up for £5. You can get funky ergonomic models that are split in the middle, but if the good old standard keyboard feels comfortable to you, stick with it.

Pick a pointing device, usually a mouse. Some laptops come with touchpads or trackballs designed to do the same thing – give you a quick way to move the pointer around the screen so that you can select options by clicking.

Buying a used computer

Tip.eps If you don’t have a computer and don’t have much money to spend, you may want to investigate the used market. Thousands of perfectly good used machines are floating around looking for a caring home. You can pick up a PC or Mac that’s a few years old for under £200 and it will serve your budding eBay needs just fine. Make sure a monitor is included in the purchase price. eBay sellers often sell their old computers when they upgrade, so you can get some great deals – for more on buying a computer on eBay, check out the section ‘Upgrading your system with the help of eBay’.

Buying a refurbished computer

If you don’t feel comfortable buying a used machine, you may want to consider a factory-refurbished model. These are new machines that were returned to the manufacturer for one reason or another. The factory fixes them so they’re nice and spiffy, and then sweetens the deal with a terrific warranty. Some companies even offer optional, extended, on-site repairs. You get a new computer at a deep discount because the machine can’t be resold legally as new.

For the most part, refurbished computers are defined as returned units with blemishes (scratches, dents, and so on). The factories rebuild them to the original working condition, using new parts (or sometimes used parts that meet or exceed performance specs for new parts). Refurbished computers come with 60- to 90-day warranties that cover repairs and returns. Warranty information is available on the manufacturers’ websites. Be sure to read this info before you purchase a refurbished computer.

Major computer manufacturers, such as Dell, IBM, Sony, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Apple, sell refurbished computers. For starters, try and select Dell Outlet link on the Home & Home Office products page to find refurbished laptops and desktops. If you want a Mac, go to and scroll down the page to find a link for refurbished models.

Tip.eps Because the inventory and prices of refurbished computers change daily, there’s no way of telling exactly how much money you can save by buying refurbished instead of new. We suggest that you find a new computer system you like and can afford in a shop or a catalogue, and then compare it with the refurbished systems available. If you’re thinking about buying from the Internet or a mail-order catalogue, don’t forget to include the cost of shipping in the total price. Even with shipping costs, however, a refurbished computer may save you some 30–60 per cent, depending on the deal you find.

Upgrading your system with the help of eBay

Tip.eps You may think we’re putting the cart before the horse with this suggestion, but you can get a new or used computer system at a great price by signing on to eBay before you buy your computer. You can get online at your local library or ask to borrow a friend’s computer. We’ve seen eBay listings for workable, vintage home computers, fully outfitted, for less than £200. Often such systems also come loaded with software.

You can also find on eBay all the bits and pieces you may need to upgrade your computer, such as the following items:

Digital cameras and scanners

Disk drives, including CD and DVD drives, and memory cards

Modems

Monitors

Printers

You can modernise and speed up a good used computer by adding some extra RAM. Memory is cheap these days and you don’t need a degree in brain surgery to open up the back of your home computer – just a screwdriver.

Tip.eps Start by performing a scan of your computer at . This tells you how much memory you’ve installed already and how to go about adding some more memory.

To find your ideal bargain, you may have to monitor the different computing auctions on eBay for a while. Go put in your best bid, and check back later to see whether you’ve won. (If you want to find out about the fine art of sniping – bidding at the last minute – skip to Chapter 6. We won’t be insulted if you leave us for a while now. Honest.)

Connecting to eBay without a Computer

Sometimes life is a catch-22 situation. Say your goal is to make some money on eBay so you can afford to buy a computer. Because you can’t log on to eBay without a computer, you can’t make money, right? Well, not exactly. Here’s how you can start selling and bringing in some cold, hard cash for that shiny new (or not-so-shiny, used) hardware.

Much more than books: Libraries

If you haven’t been to your local library lately, you may be surprised that most libraries are fully wired with computers that connect to the Internet. Some libraries don’t even require you to have a library card if you want to use their computers, although they may limit the amount of time you can spend online and the sites you can log on to (often adult sites are blocked). eBay is considered fair game.

Remember.eps The upside of using the library’s computer is that it’s usually free. The downside is that you may have to wait for some kid to finish researching an essay on the ceremonial use of yak milk before you can start your eBay venture.

On the go: Cybercafes and wireless hotspots

If you’re worried about a librarian shushing you as you cheer your winning bids, you may consider using an Internet cafe. If you live near a university or in an area popular with tourists, you’ll probably find an Internet cafe near you. Hourly rates vary considerably, from 50p to around £5 an hour. A well-known example is Easy Internet Cafe, which has orange-painted cafes in most large cities across Europe – see to locate your nearest.

If you have a laptop with wireless Internet access (most new laptops have this facility built in), you can surf while you enjoy a skinny latte at one of the many coffee shops, hotels and airports that provide ‘hotspot’ access.

Remember.eps Look out for signs for the main wireless hotspot providers: T-Mobile Hotspot, BT Openzone and The Cloud. You can tell if wireless is available by checking for signs on the doors of coffee shops and other public places. Then just take a seat, and switch on your laptop, and your computer should automatically detect the wireless network. Just open up your browser (see the section ‘Browsing for a Browser’ for more on browsers). The website of the hotspot provider automatically appears in your browser. You’re invited to purchase some Internet time. To do this you need to pay using a credit card on the hotspot provider’s site or, in some cases, you pay by text message from a mobile phone. If you have any problems connecting, look for leaflets or posters dotted around hotspot locations telling you what to do.

Wi-fi hotspot access can be quite expensive, at around £4–5 an hour. If you use hotspot access regularly, you may consider investing in a monthly subscription to one of the main providers, which offers access at considerably reduced rates.

If you don’t fancy paying for hotspot access, you can even get it for free in most branches of McDonalds restaurants and JD Wetherspoon pubs. They let you browse the Internet for free – just make sure you at least buy a drink.

You can locate your nearest wireless hotspots, including all the free ones, by city or postcode at

Warning(bomb).eps If you get a long lunch at work or have to kill time waiting for clients to call back, you may want to get started on eBay from your office work computer. But give it a lot of thought before you do, otherwise you may find a P45 landing on your desk before your first auction closes.

Choosing an ISP

Okay, so you bought (or found a way to access) a computer, and you’re ready to surf eBay. Hold on a minute – before you start surfing, you need access to the Internet. (Details, details. . .) The way to access the Internet is through an Internet service provider (ISP) such as Tiscali, Orange, AOL or Virgin Media. If you don’t already belong to one of these, don’t worry – joining is easy.

If you’re new to the Internet and not sure which ISP to go with, your best bet may be to start by calling your existing telephone provider. Companies such as BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk all offer broadband Internet access.

The quality of the different types of broadband (DSL and cable) varies greatly from area to area and even from street to street.

Before you decide what kind of broadband connection you want, go to , which we show in Figure 1-1. Using this website, you can compare broadband providers based on criteria such as speed, reliability and customer service. The site uses actual data supplied by customers and shows clearly that some providers have far more satisfied customers than others.

A high-speed broadband connection can be a boon to your eBay business. In the following sections we give the lowdown on the types of connection available.

ADSL

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is a form of broadband DSL, a data communications technology that enables faster data transmission over copper telephone lines. If you have a telephone line from BT, you’ll probably use ADSL for your broadband.

Figure 1-1: ThinkBroadband reviews help you select an ISP.

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Your ISP gives you a splitter, or microfilter, that allows a single telephone connection to be used for both the ADSL service and voice calls at the same time.

All good so far. But copper lines vary in quality and were not originally designed with ADSL in mind. The main problem with a DSL connection is that your home or office needs to be within a certain distance of your local exchange. This distance is usually a couple of miles and shouldn’t be a problem for most people, but check with your chosen ISP if you live in a more remote area.

You may see adverts for broadband services promising ADSL speeds of ‘up to 8 MB per second’ download. Unfortunately, this figure assumes that everything works perfectly. Unless you live next door to your local telephone exchange, you may have download speeds of only 1–3 MB per second.

You can test the speed of your broadband connection at , which we show in Figure 1-2.

Figure 1-2: Checking your broadband connection at .

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Warning(bomb).eps The cost of broadband falls regularly, but do read the small print of your contract. Some very cheap broadband packages come with tiny download limits – some as low as 2 GB a month. This limit is fine if all you do is browse the Internet and send a few emails for a few hours a week. But if you want to download music or movies or watch lots of videos online, you may well creep over your limit – for which your ISP may charge extra.

Even some supposedly ‘unlimited download’ ISPs include disclaimers stating that they can ‘throttle’ or place limits on customers deemed to be using the service excessively. The only way to avoid this is to find out from your ISP what limits it places on downloads – some are more generous than others.

Digital cable

Eureka! We think we’ve found the mother lode of connections: cable. If you can get cable television, you can probably get a blazingly fast cable Internet connection. Instead of copper telephone lines, cable uses ultrafast fibre-optic technology.

These fancy new lines carry a crisp digital TV signal and an Internet connection as well. (They’ve plenty of room to carry even more stuff, and new services are being introduced all the time.)

Digital cable Internet connections are generally fast and reliable. Virgin Media is the main provider in the UK and offers speeds of up to 50 MB per second, far faster than anything offered by the ADSL providers.

Digital cable usually comes as a package, with Internet, a phone line and multichannel digital TV, and it can be a very good deal if you want to combine these services. Keep an eye out for promotions.

Remember.eps You can also connect to the Internet the old-fashioned way via telephone and a dial-up ISP. This requires no additional equipment or connections. Just load the freebie software that comes with your computer and follow the registration steps that appear on your computer screen. Have your credit card and lots of patience handy. With a little luck and no computer glitches, you’ll have an active account and instant access to email and the Internet in less than an hour.

Accessing Email

Once you have access to the Internet, you need access to email. If you have your own computer and an ISP, you probably have email access automatically. Most ISPs let you check your email from their websites, but at home you may use a program such as Windows Live Mail or Thunderbird to check your mail on your home computer.

If you want to log on to the Internet away from home, you may want to set up an Internet-based email provider. Google’s Gmail (), Yahoo! () and Hotmail () are the most popular – they’re free and secure, and signing up is a snap. We like them because you can pick up your mail anywhere, even using a mobile phone.

Some common-sense rules can help you protect your email account:

Select a password that’s difficult to guess. Use letter-and-number combinations or nonsensical words that nobody else knows. Don’t use common names or words relating to you, such as the name of your street.

Keep your passwords secret. If someone asks for your password online, assume it’s a scam. Never give out your password.

Don’t open an email with an attachment from an unknown person. The attachment – another file attached to your email message – could contain a virus.

Don’t respond to spam email. Spam is online slang for harassing, offensive or useless-but-widely-distributed messages or advertisements. If you ignore such junk, the sender usually gives up and goes away.

Browsing for a Browser

When you buy a new computer, you usually get an Internet browser for free. A browser is a software program that lets your computer talk to the Internet. Having a browser is like having your own private cyber-chauffeur. Type the address (also known as the uniform resource locator, or URL) of the website you want to visit, and boom, you’re there. For example, to get to eBay’s homepage, type and press Enter. (Consider this as a low-tech version of ‘Beam me up, Scotty!’ – and almost as fast.)

The two most popular browsers are Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Both programs are powerful and user-friendly. The one you choose is a matter of preference – we use them both.

Tip.eps You can get Microsoft Internet Explorer and Firefox for free. To find out more, or to make sure you’re using the most up-to-date version of the software:

Go to for Microsoft Internet Explorer

Go to for Firefox

In the following sections, we explain Explorer and Firefox in more depth.

Perusing the menus

At the top of almost all Microsoft-enabled programs are standard drop-down lists that invoke various programs. Who’d ever think you’d need to use menus, given all the colourful icons that your browser provides? The drop-down lists give you more in-depth access to the program’s capabilities. In Tables 1-1 and 1-2 we give an overview of the various tasks you can perform from the menus in Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Table 1-1 Internet Explorer Menus

Menu

What You Can Do

File

Open, print, save and send HTML web pages

Edit

Select, cut, copy, paste and find text on the currently displayed page

View

Change the way Explorer displays Internet pages

Favorites

Save your favourite web pages

Tools

Enable pop-up blockers, use filters, and clear your browsing history

Help

Get help

Table 1-2 Firefox Menus

Menu

What You Can Do

File

Open, print, save and send HTML web pages

Edit

Select, cut, copy, paste and find text on the currently displayed page

View

Change the way Firefox displays Internet pages

History

Navigate back and forth through the sites visited in your current session

Bookmarks

Bookmark a page or access your saved bookmarks (same as Favorites in Internet Explorer)

Tools

Enable features and add-ons, clear private data, and set browser options

Help

Get help

Expert keyboard shortcuts

In Tables 1-3 and 1-4 we list loads of useful browser shortcuts. As you can see, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Firefox share many of the same shortcut keys. We hope they help cut down your desk time.

Table 1-3 Internet Explorer Shortcuts

Press This

Explorer Will

F1

Open a help window

F3

Open the Search box so you can search the current page for a particular word or phrase

F4

Open your URL list so you can click back to a site that you visited earlier

F5

Refresh the current page

F11

Display full screen, reducing the amount of icons and other stuff displayed

Esc

Stop loading the current page

Home

Go back to the top of the web page

End

Jump to the bottom of the current page

Backspace

Go back to the web page you viewed last

Ctrl and mouse wheel

Enlarge or reduce the text on the screen

Ctrl+D

Add the current page to your Favorites list (but don’t forget to organise this list once in a while)

Table 1-4 Firefox Shortcuts

Press This

Firefox Will

Backspace

Go to the page you viewed previously

Ctrl+O

Open a window to let you open files on your computer

F5

Refresh the current page

Ctrl+U

View the page source (to let you study the HTML)

F11

Display full screen, reducing the amount of icons and other stuff displayed

Esc

Stop loading the current page

Ctrl+P

Print the page

Ctrl+S

Save the current page to a file on your computer

Backspace

Go back to the web page you viewed last

Ctrl++ or Ctrl+–

Enlarge or reduce the text on the screen

Ctrl+F

Find a word or phrase on the current web page