The ability to access all your favourite sites by touch will prove a real boon to Windows 8 users. Here's a pictorial guide to navigation by touch in Windows 8.

If you've surfed the internet on a tablet or a smartphone, then you'll probably be frustrated by the desktop PC experience. Web browsing is arguably one of the activities to have benefited most from multi-touch technology. Sweeping through pages, pinching to zoom in and out, quickly accessing bookmarks and links by tap, all feel much more intuitive. See also: How to upgrade to Windows 8.

With Windows 8 Microsoft has taken the idea of touch-based browsing and built Internet Explorer 10 around it, making a browser that prioritises touch for use within the Metro interface. Of course, you can use it with a mouse too, and in the standard, more old-fashioned Windows interface, but touch is really intended to be the primary methodology. As well as catering for a more intuitive way of using the web, touch gives you fast-and-easy access to a range of tools that can make browsing more productive. So, lets jump right in and explain what that means in the real world. (See also: Windows 8: the complete guide.)

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Windows 8: Getting started

When you first open the web browser there's a navigation bar along the bottom. This offers some basic tools for getting around such as reloading or revisiting a web page, the ability to search for a term or complete URL, and the option to pin a page to the Start screen. Whenever you choose to pin a page to the start screen a small box will appear. Type in a reference name for the web page that means something to you, hit ‘Pin to Start' and your web page is on the Start Screen (this already works in Internet Explorer 9).

Windows 8 web navigation

Whenever you start  typing in a search for a specific term or a web address a series of navigation tiles will appear. These show you all the sites that you've pinned to the Start screen, along with ones you've regularly visited.

You can drag it to a location that works for you. This gives you quick, easy access to all your favourite web pages. Users of Windows Phone will be very familiar with the concept and it saves you firing up the browser every time you want to go to a site you regularly visit.

Windows 8: Access all areas

If you want to revisit open web pages, then a sweep upwards from the screen bezel on to the application window gives you precisely that capability. You can close any open web pages by hitting the ‘X' in their top-right corner, jump to any web page by tapping it, open a new window by hitting the ‘+' sign and close all but the currently open web page by hitting the three dots icon.

Windows 8 web navigation

Returning to open web pages is easy in Windows 8 - just make a sweeping movement towards the top of the screen.

If you start typing in a search term or URL a new screen appears showing what are called Navigation Tiles. These show all the sites that you've pinned to the Start screen, as well as the sites you've visited frequently. As you type, the tiles are filtered to combine your favourites, history and popular web sites. The idea is that you might not need to type much in at all. If what you want is on one of these tiles, just tap it to go to the site you need.

Windows 8: Traditional look

Of course, if you want it, the good old-fashioned desktop-based interface is present too. Just call up the navigation bar (with a sweep of the finger upwards onto the Metro screen from the screen bezel), and then hit the Tools icon to the right of the navigation bar. Now you can choose ‘View on the desktop' and what you'll get is a very familiar looking Internet Explorer screen.  

Windows 8 web navigation

If you prefer the more traditional-looking desktop interface, simply sweep your finger upwards and then tap the Tools icon.

Windows 8: Edge-to-edge browsing

When using the Metro interface Internet Explorer offers ‘edge-to-edge’ browsing. The whole screen is occupied by the web page you are looking at – and not by extraneous boxes and information. You can pinch to zoom, flick to scroll, tap to open links, and sweep left and right to move back and forth between web pages that you’ve opened.

Windows 8 web navigation