Carpe Textus Don’t just surf the Web. Seize it!
Maxthon Maxthon Browser 2.0 Reviewer’s Guide
By Ron White, Maxthon Advocate
I’ve reviewed software for more than 20 years, both as a freelance writer and as executive editor of PC Computing magazine. I’ve read a lot of reviewer’s guides and thrown a lot in the trash can. This is the first time I’ve written one.
That’s because Maxthon is one of the few program’s I’ve seen in 20 years that gets so many things right, that anticipate the features I would like in a program, and has the versatility, performance, and smarts to grow into something more than a browser–in much the same way that Windows has become more than an operating system. The one thing it hasn’t had it the chutzpah to get out and let people know how sweet a browser Maxthon is. Sure, it’s got about 12 million users, but 10 million of those are in China, where it originated. (There’s an interesting story behind that I’ll tell you sometime.)
So when a review I wrote of Maxthon led to some conversations with Maxthon’s owners, I decided this was a project I’d like to be a part of, and I came out of semi-retirement to give Maxthon some help explaining what’s different and wonderful about the browser to people outside China. (Full disclosure here: I’m being paid by Maxthon to write this guide, help them in other ways to market the browser in the United States–if market is the right term to apply to a product that its totally free and how makers have no plans to sell, ever.)
That said and having, myself, read and tossed a quadzillion reviewers’ guides over the years, I have an idea of what you’d like to know. It’s isn’t, for example, a grocery list of every persnickety little doo-dad and gee-whizzer the folks back in Beijing have crammed into Maxthon. (“Connects to Internet over both land lines and wireless system.” “Uses ASCII alphabet to display information clearly in English.”) First of all, those lists get old, real fast–for you and your readers. Second, that’s not what’s Maxthon is about.
It’s about freedom, equality, and opportunity.
I know that sounds highfalutin. But 99 out of a 100 programs I’ve looked at over the years were firmly fixed in a programmer’s cast-iron beliefs of how software should work. It might even be a team of programmers, which means the software is written to appease a dozen ideas of how a program should work. Trouble is, only rarely do any of those ideas mesh with mine. Probably not with yours either. That’s why people have so much trouble using software. It’s not a program they have to learn. It’s someone else’s way of thinking.
Here’s one example. Most browsers, when you hit the exit button, just vanish. Maxthon will display this message. The drop-down list lets you set up Maxthon for the next time you use. Me, I like the “View Last Visited page List.” It lets me choose which, if any of the pages that were open when I closed Maxthon I want to reopen when I launch the next session. But that’s me. Others would choose their home pages a favorite folder that contains several sites they routinely want to open when they launch the browser.
It dozens of thoughtful touches like this that are why I am so enamored of Maxthon. It is built around the concept that my idea and your idea of how a program should work have equal validity. And Maxthon provides the tools and connections so that you can create your own browser. You can move toolbar and menus, add and remove buttons, add any of 1,000 plug-ins to do everything from close all the site tabs at once to translate entire pages from Chinese to English. You can use skins to give Maxthon a clown’s face or shroud it in darkness. A lot of the tools are downright rebellious, from the ones that banish ads to–one of my favorites–a plug-in that defeats attempts by webmasters to bar you from copying any graphics you find on their pages.
Mind you, none of this futzing with Maxthon is required. The unsullied browser can be found online at www.maxthon.com. You can use it without any customization at all, and you’ll still have a quick, easy, and powerful browser–one that looks like this:
Nothing wrong with that. But with a bit of fiddling with Maxthon, you can have it looking like this:
This is what I call Maxthon Special Edition for Writers and Editors. You’ll find it in your digital press kit as mx_2.0.7_ed.exe. I’ve filled it with tools that would be handy for journalists, particularly those covering technology. The eight boxes are feeds, updated every 15 minutes, from various mainstream sources. The favorites across the top include vendors press room sites, references, leads for freelancing, sources of good tech info and software, and, of course, handy links to all things Maxthon.
The toolbar just under the favorites has built-ins and plug-ins for filling in passwords and usernames, capturing screenshots, splitting the display between two different sites, eliminating all the clutter so you can spread the site across the screen to see it better, and ways to suck all the graphics or videos off a page–or a whole site. To the left are from RSS feeds on technology, news, and, because technology can get dreary at times, some humor.
That just some of it, and for all I know you’ll think it all hooey. You may have your own idea of what an enterprising technology journalist needs in browser. Well, have at it. With Maxthon, the Web is yours. Don’t just surf it. Seize it.
Maxthon Browser – The Features
I sure some of you have deadlines to meet. So let’s get to some of the new ways of mining the Internet for information and fun that Maxthon has brought to the browser.
It’s not just a browser, Maxthon is an Internet Suite. It changes your ideas of what you can do on the Web.
Everyone’s got tabs Even Internet Explorer has them. But do other browsers let you split the screen between two tabs? Three tabs? Twenty tabs? Can you detach any other browser’s tabs? Do their tabs come with controls to copy them, close them, rearrange them, save them into groups to recall later? Give them aliases? Assign them to hot keys? Arrange by site? Lock them against closing? How about automatic refresh? Do other browsers have that?
A new generation of browser tools! Save your passwords securely and let Maxthon log you in to sites automatically. Capture whole screens or parts of screens. Tools that you used to have to pay extra for are included in Maxthon’s price, which is zero! Why pay for third-party enhancements when you get these free with Maxthon?
Passwords keep your computer safe They’re also a pain to use, especially if you do it right: complex combinations of numbers and letters, never using the same password twice. Maxthon’s Magic Fill takes the pain away by creating new passwords and remembering them for when you return. You’d pay for a extra program to do that with other browsers. With Maxthon, it’s free.
Screen capture brings the Internet back alive With a touch or a click, capture a full screen, a area you select, a window, or page content as an image you can edit and include in presentations, user manuals, ads, papers—anywhere showing a picture of a Web page is worth a megathousand words.
Don’t go anywhere without your Internet Take it along with Maxthon Access ’n’ Share. From any place in the world, Access ’n’ Share gives you secure, password-protected access to everything on your PC back home. As long as your computer is turned on, there’s no limit to how many times you can connect with it and how much you can download. And there’s no cost, either.
And don’t forget your music, either Avvenu lets you enjoy the music collection you’ve stored on your computer, when you’re next door at a friend’s house or half-way around the world.
Or your favorites! Just register with Maxthon Online Favorites Service and that list of Web sites that’s take you years to compile is no further away than the nearest Internet connection.
Secure Browsing. We mean, really, really secure.
Secure and secret Although you could never tell, Maxthon rides on top of Internet Explorer. That’s let some writers to say that, of course, that means Maxthon is subject to the same security leaks Internet explorer is infamous for. Not so. Maxthon brings its own pack of security patches and tools that IE does have. Ad Hunter, for example, protects from sites that try to sucker you in, and hides your tracks to sites we don’t want others to know we visited.
Does the Web smell fishy? Trace down the source of rancid Web sites, pungent pop-ups, and flagrant Flash animations with File Sniffer. It reveals the real locations of advertising, animations, and photos that sites sneak onto their pages. When you visit a secure Web site, the address bar shows the Trusted icon and the bar’s background changes color to let you know a transaction there is safe.
Intelligent protection Want ads on your Web pages? Yes or no, Maxthon’s filters will remove ads, photos and other page elements where they are simply distractions and leave them where they’re needed. An interface you’ll love because you created it!
Maxthon understands that we all have different ideas about how a Browser should work. With Maxthon you don’t compromise. It gives you the tools and features to create a Maxthon that fits your browsing needs and the way you prefer to work.
Great minds surf alike If you think of something you’d like Maxthon to do, chances are so has one of the other millions of Max users—someone who’s already created an add-in to do just what you want. There are more than 1,400 add-ins you can download in seconds. Use them to translate foreign text, track the weather, display hidden pictures, capture YouTube and Flash videos, do search mashes, display tabs in tree format, play classic arcade games, and… well, check here for the full list. And if you want Maxthon to look different, there are hundreds of skins to make it take on the character of everything from goths to carnivals to science fiction.
Filtered just for you Grab filters created by others to strain out ads on specific sites, and to change the way web pages look just as if you could change the page’s source code.
Free yourself from the keyboard! Sit back and use Maxthon’s Mouse Gestures to control your computer. Just slide the mouse to go back, forward, save a file, refresh, and close a tab – anything you can do with a keyboard, only do while you lean back in an easy chair.
More than one way to get to a page Tired of typing ambercrombiepharmacy.com each time you want to fill a prescription? Give it the alias of “rx” and save wear and tear on your fingers. Or create an alias that will open a dozen of your favorite sites all at once. Want to do it with only one key? Sure, use Maxthon’s hot keys to open one or many Web pages.
Surf without a touching a key Or if hotkeys are still not laid back enough for you, try Super Drag & Drop. Just define a word anywhere on the page and drag and drop it anywhere to launch a search for topics related to whatever you’ve dropped.
Roll your own If you can’t find exactly what you want in plug-ins, skins or filters, Maxthon provides all the instructions you need to create your own and become a hero to other Maxthon users.
Cutting-edge Technology without Getting Cut.
Maxthon’s more than a pretty shell riding on a browser engine. It’s packed with the sharpest new technologies that take it beyond the cutting edge.
Faster, he said You can never have too much speed, but Maxthon uses technology no one else has to get you to your surfing destination in a heartbeat. Smart Acceleration uses an intelligent cache to speed up the display of screen elements you often encounter.
Please feed the readers Maxthon’s built-in Feed Reader lets you subscribe to Internet feeds as fast and easy as a click and a drag. You don’t need other software to enjoy RSS 9.9/1.0/2.0 and Atom 0.3/1.0 feeds.
Surf in disguise Super Proxy lets Maxthon connect to the Internet with HTTP, HTTPS, Socks4, Socks4a, Socks5 proxy servers, perfect for those sites that only accept surfers from particular countries or domains. Or just for when you don’t want others to know where you’re coming from.
Take the chill out of surfing The tabbed browsing and the increase in Ajax technology in Web sites makes a program freeze just a few degrees away. If it freezes your browser, you’re not using Maxthon. We developed a whole new technology to keep Maxthon moving when other browsers would be stopped stiff.
Finally, here are some quickies: Click on an image while pressing the control key, and Maxthon saves the image to a folder you’ve set up for image collection. Also, when you click on an image a small square appears by your cursor click on the box to enlarge the graphic for a closer look. Close a tab by mistake? The Undo list will get it back again. Maxthon not only has a history list, but a future list to let you move back and forth in the history trail.
For more information, join the Maxthon forum at http://forum.maxthon.com or see Maxthon’s wiki, which is still in beta, at http://wiki.maxthon.com/ or contact Ron White at [email protected] or 210-683-1444.
Please visit http://www.maxthon.com/pressroom/ for latest version of this document.