Ever have those situations where you think a web page has the information you want, but it’s not easy to find the text? Sometimes this is because you only remember part of the data. Other times, it’s because the way the data is presented on the website. Before giving up, try this easy solution.
Recently, I met an artist who mentioned she would be doing an exhibit this spring. I cataloged the info in my head. My problem was I only remembered her first name. The exhibit site did have a drop-down menu, but it was long and sorted by last name. Worse, if I used my browser’s “find on page” feature, it was only reading the first name from the drop down list. This problem happens a lot. In some cases, the site can get around it by having a “site search” function.
Using View Page Source
The trick is to use a browser feature frequented by web designers called “page source.” This is like looking at the web page’s source code or guts. It's typically not a pretty page. However, this page does remove some obstacles that forms pose and more text is revealed.
As example, if I go to the website, I can search for various artists. But what if I only remember the first name of someone? Hmmm…I think her name was “Mary.” If I use the drop-down menu, I’m greeted with a list.
As you can see, the list is long and a bit tedious to search for the first names. Sadly, if I just use CTRL+F to search text on the page, it won’t show any artist other than Barbara Abbott. This is a good example where View Page Source helps.
1. With your web browser, go to the page that you think has the data. As example http://svos.org/search.php
2. Using your mouse, right-click and select View page source from the menu.
Tip: With Google Chrome and Firefox, you can also type "view-source:" before the URL in the address bar. As example, view-source:http://svos.org/
You’ll now be looking at a page that may look confusing if you don’t know web programming. Don’t worry.
3. Press CTRL+F to open the Find on Page text box. In my case, I'm using Google Chrome and the box shows in the top right. Firefox places the box in the lower left and Internet Exporer places it in the top left for IE8 and above..
4. Enter in the text you’re trying to find such as “mary”.
If the text is found on this page, it will be highlighted. The browsers do differ slightly. For example, Firefox provides an option to Match Case. But Google Chrome indicates the number of results. To navigate through the results, you simply hit the up or down triangle on the search box.
This find text trick works with the major web browsers and websites. There are some limitations such as mobile browsers or tablets. In the case of Apple’s iPad, some people have created bookmarklets to duplicate this functionality. And there are still a few sites that prevent users from using view page source.
Related Find Tutorial:
Last Updated (Thursday, 15 September 2011 10:37)