Reading View and Slide Shows

In these two pieces last month (Anthony Trollope never had this trouble and “Let’s cross this one off your list”) I recorded my latest experiences with Windows 10. Rather a lot of time was lost to software updates. Instead of dwelling on this lost time and the frustrations caused by these updates I will report rather more positively on two features which have improved my use of the operating system. They might have been there before the updates but came to my attention afterwards.

The first feature is Reading View in Microsoft Edge, the default web browser supplied with Windows 10. Mozilla Firefox has for many years been my preferred browser, based on a number of things. First, there were some like-for-like comparisons I made many years ago which showed Firefox to be significantly faster than whatever version of Internet Explorer was originally installed with Windows 7. Second, I prefer to use a range of hardware and software suppliers. I would never be clad head-to-toe with clothing manufactured by one sportswear company (on those rare occasions when I am dressed for sport) and I would rather not have all of my technology dictated by a single supplier. Third, I am happy with Firefox. There has been no reason for me to change, though it took me a year or so to switch to it from Safari on my (currently sidelined) Mac Book Pro.

Microsoft Edge is the company’s competitor to leaner browsers like Google Chrome. Over the years a standard term used to describe Internet Explorer, with its legacy features and Add-ins, was “bloated”, which is why many people switched to Chrome or Firefox. I have used Edge on and off for over two years but still prefer to use Firefox, partly because it has a search History option. Microsoft Edge allows you to look through your History of pages browsed by date, but there is no option to search through it for specific words. This is such a minority interest that I do not expect the feature to be added to future releases of Edge but it is important for me.

What I do like about Edge is its Reading View. Click on the little symbol of an open book on the right hand side of the Address Bar to activate it. The current page appears like the facing pages of a book, with a light yellow background and an estimate of how long the piece will take to read. I prefer it to the equivalent view in Firefox. I believe that the Firefox version has only recently started to display an estimate of how long it will take to read an article. If it was there before I didn’t notice it. It suggests longer reading times than Microsoft Edge. My longest piece on these pages (Shakespeare 2003/4, here) is over 9,000 words long. The Firefox estimate is 49-62 minutes of reading time. Edge suggests 38 minutes. I’m sure that you could read it in under 30 minutes, if you haven’t done so already.

The other Windows 10 feature that has only come to my attention since the updates is how to display Slide Shows from File Explorer. In earlier versions of Windows there was a Slide Show option on the Menu Bar. I looked for it in the latest version, but it’s not there. Now I see that the option appears on the Ribbon if you click on the Picture Tools tab in the Title Bar. Finding this feature is one reason why I spent so much time earlier this month browsing through photos of my children in the years 2006-2008, as described in this piece (Big Data and small data).

Reading View and Slide Shows might not transform the way I use Windows but they have improved it in small ways, and it has been a welcome change to report something positive in a piece about Technology.



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