AOL has recently released their own browser called, AOL Explorer. I am very impressed with what they have released. It is clean, user friendly, customizable, and allows you to manage accessibility measures. I have put together a grouping of screenshots and I am going to go over some of the key features along with screenshots. Click on the small screenshots to get a large view of what I am describing. Okay, here we go…

Above is the AOL Explorer interface. You can see that AOL has added the Tabbed Browsing feature, which is a huge plus, and they did it right. Ctrl+T, Middle Click links, File>New Tab, and Clicking on the Plus icon will all open a new tab. Ctrl+W, Middle Click a tab, and clicking on the X icon will all close the tab you are in. You can also see from the screenshot that as I was typing my domain for Solution Watch, it has a thumnail preview of the site appear. This is really neat, I can look through the history bar at thumnails of sites before going to it. The only thing that gets me is, will this take up a good amount of space after a while storing all the thumnail images? Also notice that there is a built in Popup Blocker as well as a Spyware Scanner.

The above screenshot is of the XML Feed support. As you are browsing, if a website you go to has a feed available, it will add the XML icon on the address bar. On clicking the icon, it will allow you to add the feed to the Feed Panel (on the left of screenshot). The Feed Panel will list all the feeds you have saved into the panel and giving you the ability to manage and collapse certain feeds. If there are updates to the Feeds, it will say how many are new. Holding your mouse over a specific headline will give you a description of the content so you can see what it is about before viewing it. It will then open it in a new tab when you click the headline. Seems to work very nicely.

I also noticed the management of Favorites. It presents you with a nice and simple interface to Add, Edit, Move, and Delete favorites. When opening the Manage Favorites window, it will list all the favorites inside of their appropriate folder. You can collapse/un-collapse and manage them very easily. When adding a favorite, it is just as simple. It comes up with the window, choose the folder from the list, and click “Save.” When saving favorites, you are also given the option to save it to the Startup Folder or Favorites Bar. The Favorites bar, when enabled, will show the favorites you saved in it on a small bar under the address bar and navigational buttons. When hold your mouse over a site on the bar, it will show a screenshot. The Startup Folder for when you open AOL Explorer, it will open the sites in the Startup Folder in new Tabs. Very handy if you need that sort of thing.

Power Browser is a very cool feature and is where the accessibility and fun stuff comes into play. You are given options to choose from that will make your browsing experience easier. To name a few, you can run a Whois on the current site you are at (although it doesn’t seem to work… it brings me to AOL Search page), Show All Links as Full URL’s, Highlight Links to Other Websites, Zooming, High Contrast (will make a negative, black & white, of the site you are at), and Search Selected Text, to name a few.

Don’t like all the options that the Power Browser provides? Well then make your own! Simply select, Modify Your Power Browsing Menu from inside the menu. You are then presented with what you see in the screenshot above. You give a title for the item and add JavaScript to perform the action. Looking at the screenshot, you can see that I added “Disable CSS” with the bookmarklet from Dorward Online (Note, it involved few character replacements to get it to work, the working version is in the screenshot). I am sure you all can come up with a few good ones to enhance your browsing.

Lastly, there is a sub folder in the Power Browsing Menu called, Just for Fun. I did not expect this, but it was fairly entertaining. Inside of the Just for Fun menu are three options: I need Glasses, I need a Mirror, and Flip the Monitor Over. I need Glasses is what you see in the screenshot above. It will blur everything it can on the current website you are on, appearing as if you need glasses. I need a Mirror will revere the whole page horizontally. Lastly, Flip the Monitor Over will flip the website upside down. What is the point of this? Fun, that’s all. You can easily turn them off by selecting, Undo Power Browsing or simply refresh the page.

I think that about covers the features I wanted to go over with you. Overall, I am very impressed. If IE7 works out well, I hope this browser jumps on it right away because it is very nice. Firefox is still my browser of choice because of Web Standards, but for work, I have to use Internet Explorer. But now, I will be using AOL Explorer because of all the nice features that it consists of.

Give AOL Browser a look, it’s small and packed with features. View the AOL Browser website.


One Comment on “AOL Explorer, detailed review”

  1. Ashley says:

    how do I take off the AOL Explorer, because i do not like it.