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Internet Explorer 8 Web Slices, Suggested Sites, and Accelerators

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What's a web slice? How about suggested sites — or an accelerator? These are three of the useful new features in Internet Explorer 8, discussed in this article by Windows 7 Your Way author Michael Miller.

Internet Explorer 8 adds some new features not found in previous versions of the browser. These features—in specific, web slices, suggested sites, and accelerators—can speed up and add more power to your web browsing. All of these features let you do in a click or two what used to take several minutes—if you could do them at all.

So what are these new features—and how do they work? To be honest, Microsoft doesn't put these new features front and center, but they're there when you click (or right-click) the right places. Read on to learn more.

Working with Web Slices

One of Internet Explorer 8's most intriguing new features is something called web slices. A web slice is a part of a web page—not the whole page—that you can subscribe to, similar to the way you subscribe to an RSS feed. IE8 can then keep you informed when the specific content on a page has been updated.

Not all web content is available as a web slice, however. When content is available for subscribing, you'll see a green web slice button on IE8's Command bar (see Figure 1). The same button appears on the web page itself when you hover your cursor over the available content (see Figure 2).

Figure 1 This page has a web slice available to subscribe to.

Figure 2 Here's the web slice on the page; click the green button to subscribe to the slice.

For example, the MSN home page contains a slideshow of top news stories. This slideshow is a web slice; when you subscribe to the slice, you can see when new content (stories) have been added to the slideshow.

To subscribe to a web slice, begin by navigating to the web page that you wish to track. Click the web slice button on IE8's Command bar, then select the slice you want to subscribe to. (Alternately, click the green web slice button next to the content you want to subscribe to.) When the confirmation dialog box appears, click Add to Favorites Bar.

That's all you have to do. After you subscribe to a web slice, it appears as a link in IE8's Favorites pane and on the Favorites bar. When the page for that web slice is updated, the link for the slice appears in boldface; click the link to view the updated content.

Even neater, click the link in the Favorites bar (if you have the Favorites bar displayed, that is). This displays that section of the web page to which you subscribed; the slice folds down from the Favorites bar so you don't have visit the web page to see the new content (see Figure 3).

Figure 3 Viewing a web slice from the Favorites bar.

At present, IE8's web slices feature is a tad underwhelming, if only because there aren't yet a lot of pages with slice-compatible content. This will probably change in the future, as more web pages are updated for the still-new Internet Explorer 8 browser. The more pages that include web slices, the more useful this feature will become.

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