-- techteach menu -- main menu --

Browsers, Plug-ins and/or Viewers

Ursula Hoffmann

While the term "browser" typically refers to software used in browsing the Web, such as MS Internet Explorer (or a version of it used by AO) or Netscape, plug-ins or viewers are software packages that let you control formatting, see graphics, hear sound, see video on your desktop or from within your web browser.
 

The most common Plug-ins/Viewers:
Adobe Acrobat Reader -- pdf
-- free, for viewing, searching, printing pages that retain their original look, such as "sheet music" or online newspapers.

get Acrobat Readerclick on this image to get to the Adobe download site, download the software, install it on your computer.

To create pdf pages, you need to buy Adobe Acrobat and install it; it plugs itself automatically into Word, Excel, Access etc. and your browser(s) Internet Explorer and Netscape. (Buy the academic version to save money.)

Apple QuickTime -- free, for Mac and PC audio and video -- see below

Real/RealPlayer/ by RealNetwork -- see below -- the basic version is free but the pro version includes an editor
Winamp -- free download for the basic version

A fast high-fidelity player for most audio file formats including .mp3 and midi, and for many video types including avi, asf, mpeg, nsv. The pro version (not free) can be used to create a media library, browse Internet radio and tv stations, burn and rip CDs.

Windows Media Player -- see below -- comes with Windows

Java -- comes with Windows, to run Java applets but it must be enabled

Optional, for specialized requirements:
Macromedia Flash Player, Shockwave by Macromedia. Shockwave Flash -- swf, spl -- free download --


Audio File format(s)
(import/export)
File type Windows 
Media Player
RealOne
Player
Quick
Time
asf Active Stream Format y y
aiff AIFF audio -- QuickTime file y y
au AU audio file y y y
avi video file -- QuickTime y y
gif animated GIF file
y y
mid, midi MIDI audio file y
y
mpeg MPEG video file y y y
mpeg2 MPEG2 video (on most DVD discs)


mp3 MP3 audio y y y
pdf Adobe Acrobat -- "sheet music"

y
png Portable Network Graphics image file
y y
ra, rm, rm? RealAudio or RealMedia file
y
swf Macromedia Shockwave Flash file
y
wav WAVE audio file y y y
wma Windows Media Audio file y y
wmv Windows Media Video file y


Video File format(s)
(import/export)
File type Windows 
Media Player
RealOne
Player
Quick
Time
asf Active Stream Format y y
aiff AIFF audio -- QuickTime file y y
avi video file -- QuickTime y y
gif animated GIF file
y y
mov
video file -- QuickTime


y
mpeg MPEG video file y y y
mpeg2 MPEG2 video (on most DVD discs)


png Portable Network Graphics image file
y y
ra, rm, rm? RealAudio or RealMedia file
y
swf Macromedia Shockwave Flash file
y
wmv Windows Media Video file y




Each plug-in works with different file formats. Having all three or four suffices for basic use.

Make sure you associate them according to your preference. This means that you instruct your browser to call up a particular piece of software to open the file with a particular extension. (Examples: .xcl is associated with Excel -- .ra is associated with RealPlayer.)

Update frequently. Note that your most recent plug-in, at installation, wants to take over all file format associations it can handle. That is all right as long as you have no preference for a particular viewer for a particular file type. In any case, you cannot control the users' computers. So just make sure to tell them the formats of the files you want them to view, and that they need a viewer able to view those files -- and to download and install it, if needed.

Most of the plug-ins can be upgraded, and for a fee to a better version for more professional use.
But do keep in mind that your targeted audience needs a plug-in to see the file format you are using.

Check your Netscape Help, About Plug-ins, to see what plug-ins are already installed on your computer, and download or purchase and install any others you may need.

For more information, go to audio or video.

To change which program starts when you open a file, using Windows:

Many file types in Windows are registered to be opened by a particular program. For example, Notepad starts when you want to open a text document file type. You can change the program that starts when you open a file.

Open My Computer or Windows Explorer
Click on the View Menu, Folder Options, click the tab File Types
Click the Registered file types box, click the file type you want to change
Click Edit
In the Registered file types box or Actions, click Open, click Edit
In Applications used to perform action, type the path to the program you want to use to open files of the selected file type. Or click Browse to select the path from a folder list.enter the program you want to use to open files with this extension
Click OK.
(Note: the settings for file types are shown in File type details.)


MS Windows Office File Converters and Viewers online

updated May 2005