Five Firefox Things Everyone Should Know

May 4th, 2010 |

About

Raymond Wong is a technology journalist who loves all things digital. He sees the world as a landscape that is continuously being shaped by computers. Aside from blogging for Ploked and his own technology blog, Tekunoloji, Raymond enjoys photography and learning about new web technologies. If you have a story that you would like him to write about, please direct all e-mails to raykm00 [at] gmail [dot] com. Lastly, if Twitter is more of your thing, you can follow him @raykm00!

According to Net Market Share, Firefox has a 24.59% market share. Not too bad for an open source web browser. If you’re still on some version of Internet Explorer, check out my previous article “Ditch Internet Explorer 6, 7, and 8” on why you should be dumping it. Here are a few tips that I’ve found essential:

Use these techniques to outfox other web browsers

1. Use keywords: Chrome and Safari both have wonderful “Speed Dial-like” quick launch pages to bookmark your most visited websites, but I find it too slow. I don’t want to have to write “Facebook” or “Gmail” or “Google Reader” or god forbid the sometimes long URLs for some blog. To get to where you need faster, create a keyboard keyword shortcut. Here’s how:

Bookmark the website (Control/Command + D). Ex) Facebook. Then go to the “Bookmarks” menu. Click “Organize Bookmarks.” Navigate to where the bookmark is (usually in the Bookmarks Menu or Bookmarks Toolbar) and click on it. There should be a little arrow icon for more options situated at the bottom of the window. Next to “Keyword,” type a shortcut. For example, for Facebook, I keyworded it to the letter “F.” Now when I type “F” and then press enter, Firefox brings me right to Facebook. I’ve done the same for other websites I visit every day, several times a week. Here’s what I have: YouTube = “YT,” Gmail = “G,” Google Reader = “R,” Yahoo = “Y,” and “Ploked” = “P.” These are just my shortcuts, but I find it has sped up the time I spend on Facebook and YouTube by getting me in and getting me out. The faster I can say “done,” the faster I can start doing more important things!

2. Twitter from the address bar: Ever since I became a Twitter user, I’ve been looking for the perfect client for mobile and home use. While there are a variety of wonderful applications available to manage Twitter such as Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Seesmic, and Brizzly, I don’t want to have to go to the actual Twitter website or open another application for that. The less tabs that are open, the snappier (and cooler) Firefox runs. I discovered TwitterBar, an add-on for Firefox that solves everything. Just type your tweet from your URL bar and hit the little blue Twitter icon. That’s all there is to it. URLs are also automatically shortened for you when it tweets your message.

3. Block advertisements: I know what you’re thinking, but hey, ads get in your way. They’re annoying. They distract. For almost two years now I’ve been using the Adblock Plus add-on and 99.9% of the time it works. I can’t remember the last time a stupid ad has gotten in my way. People will be quick to judge and say people who use ABP are stifling websites from getting the revenue they need to remain online. To that I have to only say: RSS. As a person who uses RSS to get his news, even if I didn’t use ABP, they wouldn’t be getting the money off my click. As far as I know, hits don’t count when run through an RSS reader. After using APB, you will probably notice greater productivity levels. I know I have. When I want to focus on work, and only work, APB is a godsend.

4. Control/Command + K for to search: Searching in Firefox couldn’t be easier. It saddens me when I watch another person’s browsing patterns and habits. Why do Firefox users still feel the need to go to “Google.com” or “Bing.com” for their needs? It’s extra steps. There is a search bar built-in for a reason in Firefox – to give flexibility. Use Control/Command + K to jump right into the search bar. As an added bonus, you can even select from an array of other search engines if you think Google isn’t your thing. Aside from Google and Bing, Amazon, Wikipedia, and Yahoo!, Ebay and others are also available. Save yourself the time next time. Control + K that query.

5. Private Browse: Maybe you’re at your friend’s house, or on a public computer. No one wants the history to be recorded. No one wants passwords to be saved either. Often called “Porn Mode” because of the anonymous browsing it allows, Private browsing is great for online banking and whatever smutty websites you visit in your free time. Use “Control/Command+Shift+P” to start private browsing. Use the same keyboard shortcut to go back to normal browsing.

Private browsing is a feature available only on Firefox 3.5+. If you aren’t on version 3.5, then you should use this opportunity to upgrade to the latest Firefox (3.6.4), as the Mozilla team is no longer producing security and stability updates for 3.5.

Although there are many other nifty features every Firefox user should know, these are the first five I think are essential. I hope this feature will turn into a series. You can help by submitting all Firefox tips/secrets/worthy add-on suggestions to raymond@ploked.com.

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5
Raymond Wong
  • http://twitter.com/Linuswastaken Sunil Ramsamooj

    I hardly get ads but I'll definitely add on Adblock Plus for the few that slip by

  • http://www.pastatech.wordpress.com/ Raymond

    Yea, definitely. Go for it. I highly recommend!

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