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14 Firefox Hacks You Should Master

14 Firefox Hacks You Should Master

Firefox is one of the top three browsers and if you’re one of the many who has chosen to use Firefox then it’s vital that you get the best out of it by starting to surf like a hacker.

There are plenty of straightforward Firefox hacks that you can quickly put into place and here are 14 of the best. If you don’t read them, you’ll never know how straightforward they really are.

1. Use simple keyboard shortcuts for common actions only

You can go faster without changing a setting by learning a few frequently used keyboard shortcuts. But don’t try and remember them all- just use the most common (remember the Pareto Principle!). Through remembering simple shortcuts, you can dramatically reduce the time you take to execute frequent commands by keeping your fingers on the keyboard.

  • Spacebar – Page down
  • ctrl + F – Find
  • ctrl + T – New tab
  • F5 – Refresh
  • F11- Full screen

You can review the full list on the Mozilla support site.

2. Switch to reader mode

reader

    As well as using F11 to get a full screen view – handy if you’re using a small laptop – you can use reader mode.

    To get really focused, enter the reader mode with a simple click to the book symbol in the address bar, when the option is available. I find this really useful for reading longer articles. Click on it again to return to normal mode. Unfortunately, there’s no keyboard shortcut yet.

    3. Understand cache

    The most simple way to make visiting websites quicker is through good use of cache. If you visit a lot of sites that allow browser caching frequently (the good ones do, and it can be set up on the most simple WordPress site), then the content that never changes (header images for example) won’t need to be downloaded again.

    Cache settings are found under the advanced section of ‘Preferences’. But rather than go through menus, using the mouse, just type about:preferences#advanced into the address bar to get there more directly.

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    cache

      Firefox will set an automatic amount of cache which you can override depending on the disk space you have and the performance of the disk. Slow old disks might mean its best to keep it small (<250Mb). But faster disks will be fine with the automatic setting.

      You can also clear the cache (using the ‘clear now’ button) from from this page. This is worth doing occasionally as failing to clear the cache can lead to some sites not loading correctly.

      4. Find Add-ons

      Firefox has an amazing and unrivalled ability to be personalised through add-ons. Use Cntrl-Shift-A, the address about:addons, or the far right menu button to get there.

      add-ons

        There are two main types of add-ons:

        • Themes – these change the presentation of the browser.
        • Functions – these range from adding a button to clear your cache to automatically removing a site’s cookies when you leave it.

        It’s worth a browse; you can liven up the look and feel of the browser, as well as completing a common task like clearing the cache. Using this as an example, I typed cache button into the search and selected the add-on I preferred:

        cache-button

          Once installed, Firefox needed to be restarted. After this, the new button was on the toolbar:

          cache-button2

            5. Switch between search engines

            You can chose the search engine used in the search box by clicking drop down on the magnifying glass in the search box. One interesting option for those who dislike the idea of the likes of Google collecting your search data is to use Ixquick (via an add-on).

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            Access ‘Preferences’ to select your default search engine (address bar), as well as the ones that appear in the drop down menu:

            search

              6. Enter the dragons’ den

              Now lets get really technical and start to play with the dragons! The following hacks change the settings via about:config. As Firefox says: be careful. My tip is to always leave the check box ticked as this will act as a reminder each time you go there.

              about

                7. Spell check all text boxes

                This first about:config Firefox hack is very simple and a good one to start with. Remember to only change one thing at a time, as that way if anything goes wrong you’ll know what caused it.

                So, after typing about.config hit ‘enter’ and then type “spell” in the search box.

                spell

                  Double click the line layout.spellcheckDefault and enter 2 in the pop-up box.

                  spell2

                    This means that spell checking will work on all text boxes not just those with multiple lines.

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                    8. Get search results in a new tab

                    If you don’t want to have to create a new tab before searching for something new then change the browser.search.openintab setting to automatically create one from search results. Just double-click on the line to toggle the boolean value from false to true.

                    searchtab

                      9. Go quick with pipelining

                      Pipeling allows Firefox to send multiple requests to servers for data all at once, rather than the default setting of one at a time. It relies on the sites supporting this, so it’s one to experiment with and return to the default values if it doesn’t make any improvements. Personally, I’ve found it makes a real difference to some big media sites and my own WordPress blogs.

                      The definitive and up-to-date settings to try are as follows (just double click a line to change the false/true values).

                      pipe

                        10. Use the new cache back end

                        This quick Firefox hack smooths out some browser issues by providing a quicker and more reliable experience. The setting is browser.cahce.use_new_backend and should be set to 1.

                        11. Clear memory

                        Firefox can provide lots of detailed reports about memory usage and is very clever in how it uses memory- Firefox isn’t the memory devouring beast of myth. One trick within this is to immediately get back memory that has been freed up, from closing tabs, for example.

                        memory

                          To do this, type in the address about:memory and in the free memory box click on ‘minimize memory usage’. This does a memory clean up and will give an instant boost to your browsing.

                          12. Diagnose with Safe Mode

                          If Firefox isn’t working – you’ve added something and it’s ground to a halt – one thing you can use is safe mode. Safe mode starts with a number of items switched off, in particular add-ons. So, this will pinpoint add-ons, if this is the area that’s problematic. If it is, then switch off ad-ons one by one to find the culprit.

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                          You can get into safe mode either by starting Firefox with the shift key held down or via the three bar menu. Click on the help question mark and select the Restart with add-ons disabled.

                          The hack within this Firefox hack is that there’s a better way; that’s the button found on the troubleshooting information page (below) accessed by typing about:support in the address bar.

                          14. If all else fails refresh Firefox

                          In about:support there’s also a button called ‘Refresh Firefox’. This is a bit of a last resort as it will disable add-ons and return all your settings back to default. This is fine if you know what you’ve changed and want to clean things up and reapply changes carefully one by one, (as you should). Add-ons installed are listed further down in troubleshooting information.

                          troubleshoot

                            14. Back-up and restore your settings

                            The best strategy for getting back to a good state in Firefox – that is before you messed it up! – is to back-up your profile folder. The simplest way to do this is to click on the show folder button on the above troubleshooting information page. Once the folder is open, close Firefox.

                            Next navigate up to the folder level above, and copy the whole folder to a safe location, e.g. a USB drive. The folder will have a complicated name with default in the middle, within a folder called profiles.

                            If you need to restore this backup, simple copy the entire folder back, overwriting the corrupted folder.

                            I hope these Firefox hacks will enhance your browsing experience, making it quicker, more reliable, and more fun.

                            Featured photo credit: Lego Firefox/Johnathan Nightingale via flickr.com

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                            Published on September 25, 2020

                            10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

                            10 Best VPNs to Browse the Internet More Securely

                            When it comes to digital security, public Wi-Fi networks aren’t safe enough, making it much easier for hackers to access your personal data. Whether you are studying in a library or scrolling through Facebook in a coffeehouse, it is vital to have a VPN installed on your device.

                            VPNs work wonders when it comes to securing your internet connection. By creating an encrypted tunnel between a remote server run by the VPN service, they protect your personal data from prying eyes. There is a variety of VPNs available on the web, and we have collated a list of the best VPNs that stand out from the rest.

                            How to Choose a VPN

                            • Free trial period – Free trials allow you to try the product risk-free. The same idea technically applies to those with 30-day full refunds as well.
                            • Speed – You want your VPN to be just as fast as the internet speed at home. Good quality VPNs are ones where you see little difference between those speeds.
                            • Device connection – Of course, the more devices that can connect to VPNs, the better. It increases the customers’ coverage and the product’s value. You also want to consider compatibility since fewer VPNs may work for Mac or Windows only.
                            • Number of servers – The number of servers determines how much capacity a VPN can handle while you are connected. The more servers there are, the more users it can handle without running into potential disconnections or slow speeds.
                            • Kill switch feature – Having this feature means that your IP address isn’t exposed if the VPN disconnects for some reason. A lack of this feature is a big deal since the whole reason why you’re paying for a VPN is to hide your IP address, among other things. (Find out how to avoid getting tracked online here: Big Brother Is Watching You Online: How To Avoid Being Tracked)

                            Why You Should Trust Us

                            Our hand-picked VPNs are incredibly efficient and offer such distinctive features that grant you safe browsing. They outperform many VPNs in terms of both speed and security. Their primary aim is to provide you the utmost security, thus enabling you to surf the web safely and prevent any potential threat from causing harm.

                            Among the best VPNs’ many unique features include split tunneling, strict logging policies, high encryption level, and availability of international servers. We have gathered them in this article to enlighten our readers and offer the best pieces of advice before you get one. Therefore, take our word for it, and if you go for a VPN mentioned below, you’d be fully appeased.

                            1. NordVPN

                            The most popular VPN on the market these days is NordVPN, and it’s easy to see why. It has widespread coverage, offering a selection of over 5,000 servers spanning across 59 countries.[1] Due to the high number of servers, its speed is similar to your Wi-Fi at home.

                            Lifehack’s CEO, Leon, has been using NordVPN for many years and wants to recommend it for its remarkable server count in different locations with no-logs policy. The VPN perfectly works with Netflix and Fire TV stick, too.

                            NordVPN is also compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can download the app onto Chrome, Firefox, Android, and Mac OS. Thanks to its massive coverage, it’s easy to connect multiple devices onto these servers.

                            In terms of pricing, while NordVPN doesn’t have a free trial period, they argue that their plans are considerably cheaper than those of their competitors. For example, a one-year plan for ExpressVPN costs $8.32 per month, but NordVPN only charges $6.99 monthly.

                            NordVPN has a new protocol called NordLynx that is based on WireGuard with speed benefits, though it’s still under development.[2] If you’re looking for general quality and affordability, this is one of the best VPNs around.

                            Buy this VPN.

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                            2. ExpressVPN

                            ExpressVPN is the second-best option out there for keeping your privacy while browsing the internet. Like many other VPNs here, they will encrypt your IP address, offer vast coverage, and can have multiple devices connected to their servers.

                            Compared to NordVPN, while the pricing point is higher, ExpressVPN’s biggest selling point is the number of countries that their connection covers. Depending on where you are in the world, this may be the only option you have. They have fewer servers — 160, to be precise — but they make up for the low server count by covering 94 countries.[3]

                            Cost-wise, your best bet is to go with the yearly plan where they charge $8.32 a month. They also have one- and six-month plans.

                            Buy this VPN.

                            3. Surf Shark

                            With regards to Surf Shark, you can connect multiple devices to its servers, and it’s compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac. It is also available on Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and FireTV.

                            Furthermore, Surf Shark can whitelist apps and sites, letting them bypass the VPN. This, along with the lines of split-tunneling, is another feature that many VPNs offer. The difference is that Surf Shark allows you to whitelist specific apps or any website, while most VPNs will whitelist all sites or none at all.

                            The other consideration for this app is the price. While lower-tier plans are more expensive compared to others, Surf Shark’s 24-month plan is priced at $2.69 a month, so it’s cheaper than even NordVPN’s equivalent plan!

                            Buy this VPN.

                            4. CyberGhost

                            Another top-reviewed VPN is CyberGhost. They’ve been around for 15 years and have fine-tuned their offers and features to stay competitive. They provide the standard package of browsing the web and logging into accounts safely and give you access to regionally blocked content.

                            The network also maintains security from hackers, malware, and phishing. Aside from that, you can connect multiple devices, and it’s compatible with all kinds of platforms.

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                            What separates CyberGhost from the others is their extensive coverage. They have multiple servers, and the pricing point is still very low. It covers over 88 countries and has roughly 6200 servers for you to choose from, all while charging $2.75 for their 18-month plan.

                            Buy this VPN.

                            5. IPVanish

                            IPVanish’s prime purpose is to give users online freedom by providing fast speeds and private connections. It’s clear that they can meet that promise as they provide many of the features that have been listed previously from their competitors.

                            IPVanish is a part of SugarSync now. What is that, you may ask? It’s a cloud-based service that syncs files across devices and computers for sharing, backup, and many more. What this means is that other devices can access various files and videos so long as they are connected to your specific VPN. Furthermore, it can serve as a backup plan if you get hacked or lose your device for some reason.

                            Buy this VPN.

                            6. Private Internet Access

                            Private Internet Access (PIA) is a remarkably generous company in many ways. Aside from the obvious features, they offer great incentives and discounts for people to try out their products. They claim to be the most trustworthy and reliable VPN around, and we believe that.

                            One notable thing is that PIA offers a free two-month trial. Compared to other VPNs to this point, none have provided free trials (though all come with a 30-day money-back guarantee). On top of that, small businesses can avail of their VPN at a discounted rate. There is also the fact that their pricing plans go as low as $2.69 a month for two years, and they let you pay with gift cards.

                            In terms of specs, PIA has over 2695 servers that cover 47 countries right now.

                            These particular aspects make PIA unique and one of the best VPNs to consider.

                            Buy this VPN.

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                            7. Hotspot Shield

                            Hotspot Shield is all about offering protection while you’re browsing the internet or using streaming services like Netflix. The encryption is military-grade, and its speed is ultra-fast. In truth, it is even marketed as one of the fastest VPNs.

                            Hotspot Shield offers a plan that only costs  $7.99 a month; however, it’s one of the few in this list to provide its services for free. Like other Freemium apps, the free version comes with limited features. That said, it gives you a much better feel for the VPN.

                            Also, take note that the encryption feature is still there, though the limitations in the free plan include connecting to one location in the US and having limited streaming options and speed.

                            Buy this VPN.

                            8. TunnelBear

                            As unusual as a name choice for an online security protection service can be, TunnelBear is nothing short of incredible. It makes our list of the best VPNs for various reasons.

                            The biggest one is that the company goes through a yearly security audit. This is notable because many VPNs don’t bother about independent audits to ensure their systems are secure and safe from any issues. This is critical as VPNs have gotten some bad reputation over the years, as TunnelBear has noted in their post about their security audit.[4] The fact that they are doing this annually ensures that nothing is being compromised.

                            Furthermore, TunnelBear offers limited services for free, but even their paid plans are pretty cheap. For individuals, you’re merely paying $3.33 per month. The only catch is that you can connect five devices regardless of which paid plan you pick.

                            Buy this VPN.

                            9. Norton

                            Norton has been on the security scene for some time, and it’s actually one of the founders of the internet security industry. It started with virus and malware protection in 1991 and has since branched off to other sectors as the industry has shifted.

                            As you might expect from a company that’s been around for a long time, Norton provides excellent services, and a few of their other services have gone into the VPN package. In reality, Norton is the only one thus far to offer a password manager with their VPN services. They provide 50GB of cloud storage as well.

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                            Norton has one of the cheapest VPNs, considering you can get their deluxe plan at $49.99 per year. That comes up to roughly $4.17 a month. It might be slightly higher than other equivalent plans, but you get a lot of extra value that makes it worth the price.

                            Buy this VPN.

                            10. StrongVPN

                            The final VPN we want to cover is StrongVPN. Like many others, it’s great at blocking unnecessary web traffic and providing a fast and simple solution to navigating the internet without any hindrance.

                            StrongVPN has over 900 servers. It is available in more than 30 countries and compatible with all devices. Beyond that, the only notable selling point it has compared to others is that it also offers Sugarsync services and 250GB of storage, irrespective of your chosen plan.

                            As for the pricing, their year-long plan costs $5.83 a month, while their month-long one is $10.

                            Buy this VPN.

                            Bottom Line

                            Getting online protection is important these days, and companies recognize this.

                            With more hacks and breaches occurring every single day, the best VPNs can provide an excellent haven for many people who value their security and privacy.

                            We hope that by putting together this list, you’ll be able to find the best VPN that you can trust and enjoy using. As you can see, there are several great options with no real wrong one out there. Pick the VPN that’s best for you.

                            Featured photo credit: Petter Lagson via unsplash.com

                            Reference

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