Web Page Help >>> Problems with the AOL browser

to view and collect graphics, and with other Internet features, too.

The AOL web browser is a version of MSIE. It is a version that has been modified in ways, and one of the ways is that it "compresses" graphics to an .ART format so that they will load marginally faster. The problem is that this compression happens by default. You can turn it off but people seldom do because they see no reason not to, or they don't even KNOW about it! When you save images off web pages while using the AOL browser, they STAY IN THE .ART FORMAT - even if they are named with .gif or .jpg extensions. There is no paint program that I know of that will convert graphics FROM .ART format back into .gif or .jpg.

AOL users DO NOT EVEN KNOW these graphics are in the wrong format though, because when they put them up on their pages, their OWN AOL BROWSERS see them correctly. However, they show up broken to the ENTIRE REST OF THE INTERNET!

I think it's of great importance to get this information out, so that AOL users who intend to save images off of the internet for ANY USE AT ALL, will be able to turn off compression of graphics so that the images will be in the correct format.

AOL REFUSES to publish any how-to instructions on turning off compression because they don't WANT users to. Seeing better graphics COSTS AOL MONEY!! They can't get rich and buy companies like Time-Warner if you cost them money!! DOH!

I've learned from others (see screen shot graphic below) how to turn it off:

  • AOL refuses to publish the 'how-to'. AND every version they come out with, they put this in a different place trying to KEEP PEOPLE from getting to it!
  • THERE ARE TWO STEPS! 1) Basically ... you need to UNSELECT the "use compressed graphics". Then, you must 2) clear your cache! or your browser will show you the website's pages from memory, not a fresh copy of the page.

AOL 4 screen shot of settings to not compress graphics

  • For AOL 6 and 7, it is very similar. Click onto Settings, and then Preferences. It takes you to a screen with numerous options. From the left hand column, locate Internet Properties, then the Web Graphics option. Select 'Never Compress Graphics', click on ok.
    [These steps were kindly provided by Penny in Savannah Georgia :-) Thanks!]
  • For AOL version 8 and 9, click on "settings", then "Internet properties/www", then click the "graphics" tab and put the check mark in the "never use compressed graphics box".
  • Setting compression for AOL Version 9.0 Optimized
       1. Click on Settings (top middle of your AOL screen)
       2. Click on Index (if it isn't already selected)
       3. Click on Browser Settings (left column under B)
       4. Click on AOL Browser tab
       5. Under Web Graphics select Never compress graphics
       6. Click on OK
  • For the Mac users, go to "My AOL" on the tool bar, then choose "Preferences", then the "WWW" option, then un-select "Use compressed images".
  • Then, you MUST clear your cache (memory) files from the AOL browser. Or your browser will show you the website's pages from memory, not a fresh copy of the page.
    For AOL browser version 4: Go to the 'MyAOL' icon, preferences, advanced, purge cache. Close your AOL browser, disconnect, then you can re-connect and your cache will be cleared.
    For the newest versions of AOL, from AOL's FAQ, it says:
    "This is done by either reducing the browser History to "0" and manually clearing all pages in history by deleting the files in the temporaty internet files folder located in the Windows Directory, or, PC users can force a refresh by holding down the CONTROL key on their keyboard and mouse clicking on the AOL browser reload icon. The latter will completely clear all items in history." This is explained in AOL's - Caching - FAQ.
  • For AOL 9, see this page: http://www.saratogahosting.com/aol/
  • If the version of AOL you have is working for you, IMO that's amazing, and consider yourself lucky. Everyone I know had problems. The new versions caused more problems than I can possibly list here. To find out more about the AOL problems, go to any search engine, type in "AOL problems" and you will find news articles, websites, etc. with information.
  • My best recommendation regarding any new version of AOL, or any program, operating system, etc. is ...
    NEVER, EVER get the new version when it first comes out. Give it a couple of months for them to work out the bugs and problems! Let the company come out with patches and fixes FIRST! The first release is always buggy and it's the people who have all the problems and report them to the manufacturer that prompts the manufacturer to do the fixes and updates. Usually not long (8-12 weeks, maybe longer) after the initial release. Check to make sure there are updates or patches available to 'fix' what was wrong in the first release before you install it.

You should be able to save graphics in their proper format - and not compress them.
If you want to view graphics properly (see graphic comparisons below) you must set your preferences, otherwise the browser is already at default setting that will really compress the graphics to the point that they look washed out or blurry. Most people don't know to automatically do this. [complain to AOL that they don't tell you about this.]

DO note, that any graphics you collected while your browser was set to "view compressed graphics" -- you will now need to GO and RE-GET those graphics from the places on the Internet, save them to your harddrive and upload them to your web server! Trash all the graphics you viewed/saved with graphic compression turned on.

Also ... because the AOL browser is NOT a full-version browser, AOL customers often "have trouble" viewing pages [or getting to certain sites, or be able to use a lot of forms/forums/features] out on the Internet. Starting with version 4, it got better. If you are an AOL customer (or know someone that is), I recommend getting a full version browser and install it, please!! You can download Firefox or Microsoft's Internet Explorer [IE/MSIE] from their website - free! When you're going to cruise the Internet, minimize (Just iconize AOL, hit the "-" button in the upper right corner) the AOL browser, open up your full-version browser and cruise away. When you're ready to return to within AOL, close your full-version browser, and "bring up" the AOL broswer. This is the ONLY WAY that AOL customers will have trouble free Internet browsing!! I promise you, you will see a BIG difference in the pages you view with a full version browser instead of the AOL browser!

For example, if you are using the AOL built-in browser, you may see a difference in the graphics below. It will depend on how you have your preferences set. These are an example of how the wrong preferences can make graphics look terrible.

The graphic on the left is the equivalent of having compression turned on.

AOL graphics w/compression turned on image  Roxanne M. Flanagan 1-97

If both images look the same, then you have your preferences set wrong for viewing this, and most other sites. The graphic on the right is how it should look. And WILL look, when compression is off.

AOL graphics w/compression turned off image  Roxanne M. Flanagan 1-97

Note: the AOL browser will NOT reload the graphic once you have viewed it with compression turned on. You will always see it this way until you change your settings AND clear your cache!! This is done by either reducing the browser History to "0" and manually clearing all pages in history by deleting the files in the temporaty internet files folder located in the Windows Directory, or, PC users can force a refresh by holding down the CONTROL key on their keyboard and mouse clicking on the AOL browser reload icon. The latter will completely clear all items in history. This is explained in AOL's - Caching - FAQ.

AOL's compression (basically) affects ALL images. They say, "The object must be in the BMP, GIF, JPEG, or Progressive JPEG format. The object size must be between 1KB and 8 MB." That means ... basically ... the only graphics AOL does NOT mess with, and compress into a blurry mess, is any graphic OVER 8mb in size (how many of THOSE are on the 'net, hmmmmm?). AOL has cryptic wording (that most people won't understand what it means), and that is here: AOL graphic compression.

There are a few other websites with great information! Please check out:
AOL Help Covers some FAQ about AOL and Geocities!
AOL and Netscape, a touch outdated, but good info about installing a 2nd browser -- which would be MUCH better to use to go out on the Internet, and especially if you are collecting graphics!!

AOL's own Webmaster Information - Is NOT JUST for people who make web pages.
UNFORTUNATELY, it used to have a LOT MORE information there, about how they modify the websites you see with the AOL browser, and how THEY "fetch", then deliver web pages to your AOL browser. See AOL's current page of caching information. You aren't "really" at that web page when using the AOL browser. Which will explain why some forms and features of websites, java, and other things, will NOT work for AOL customers. But, I guess they decided to bury or hide all that information from AOL users, so they removed much of the information that was there. And, they hope people do not understand what they HAVE written, otherwise it might make people realize that it is AOL that causes problems with sites working right. They do try to blame the website for your problems! ONLY when YOU know the truth about how AOL operates, and confront them with it and won't be swayed by their 'excuses', only then, (maybe) will they admit that the AOL browser is causing the problems you are experiencing.

This information is available on a printer-friendly text file. You can save it to your computer to refer to later.

Okay, I'm done ... *g* return to where you were ... or where you were going ...

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