The Computer

Searching for Multimedia on the Web

Introduction: What multimedia is, & where to find the software plug-ins you need to get it.
Search Strategies: Five different methods to find multimedia.
Types of Multimedia: Sites where you can use the various methods to find specific types of multimedia -
General | Audio | Images | Java | Video & Animation | Virtual Reality-VRML | Webcams


Multimedia is the presentation of information through a combination of different formats, including text, audio, images, animation, video, and virtual reality. It is one of the major features that makes the World Wide Web the most exciting part of the Internet. Multimedia files are designated by suffixes added to the end of file names.

In order to access many of these multimedia effects, you must have special software in addition to your Web browser - in the form of plug-ins or helper applications (for Netscape), or ActiveX controls (for Internet Explorer). As an introduction, take a look at the Official Netscape Plug-in Book. Both of the major browsers - Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer - maintain lists of these add-ons. In addition, there are Web sites that specialize in tracking and linking to new browser add-ons, such as BrowserWatch,, and

Download the audio plug-in RealPlayer.
Listen to a newscast of National Public Radio.
Listen to the novelty song Cows With Guns.

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Search Strategies

There are several strategies that you can use to find multimedia on the Web. One caution is that among your search results - especially for graphical formats - will often appear sites that fall under the category of "triple XXX adult entertainment."

  1. Search General search engines that allow limiting searches to multimedia -
    • AltaVista -
      Search syntax can limit to images (image:filename) & java (applet:class).
    • FilePile -
      Includes both Image Collection (.gif, .pic, etc) & Multimedia Collection (music, sound, etc).
    • Filez -
      Includes both multimedia file suffix selection menu & Browse catalog of files for multimedia.
    • HotBot -
      Includes Media Type limiting check-boxes for multimedia topics and file name extensions.
    • InfoSeek -
      Includes specialized search engines for both images (Imageseek) & java (Java Applets).
    • Lycos -
      Includes specialized search engine (Lycos Media) with check-boxes for pictures or sounds.
    • Snoopie -
      Includes multimedia file type selection menu.
    • Yahoo -
      Includes specialized search engine for images (Yahoo Image Surfer).

  2. Search Specialized multimedia search engines -
  3. Search Hotlists of links to specific types of multimedia -
  4. Search Software companies often maintain links to sites made or accessed with their products -
  5. Search Keyword searches on a general search engine for multimedia-related concepts -
    examples are types of multimedia (images, java, vrml), multimedia file formats (gif, midi, mpeg, wav), and multimedia software (realaudio, shockwave, vdo).
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Types of Multimedia

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Return to Tom Mendelson's Search Spot.
Last Modified: 9 November 1997
Tom Mendelson
ML, University of Washington