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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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                            Last Updated on November 5, 2019

                            5 Best Language Learning Apps to Master a New Language

                            5 Best Language Learning Apps to Master a New Language

                            Learning a new language is no easy feat. While a language instructor is irreplaceable, language learning apps have come to revolutionize a lot of things and it has made language learning much easier. Compared to language learning websites, apps offer a more interactive experience to learn a new language.

                            The following language learning apps are the top recommended apps for your language learning needs:

                            1. Duolingo

                              Duolingo is a very successful app that merged gamification and language learning. According to Expanded Ramblings, the app now counts with 300 million users.

                              Duolingo offers a unique concept, an easy-to-use app and is a great app to accompany your language acquisition journey. The courses are created by native speakers, so this is not data or algorithm-based.

                              The app is free and has the upgrade options with Duolingo Plus for $9.99, which are add free lessons. The mobile app offers 25 languages and is popular for English-speaking learners learning other languages.

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                              Download the app

                              2. HelloTalk

                                HelloTalk aims to facilitate speaking practice and eliminate the stresses of a real-time and life conversation. The app allows users to connect to native speakers and has a WhatsApp like chat that imitates its interface.

                                There is a perk to this app. The same native speakers available also want to make an even exchange and learn your target language, so engagement is the name of the game.

                                What’s more, the app has integrated translation function that bypasses the difficulties of sending a message with a missing word and instead fills in the gap.

                                Download the app

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                                3. Mindsnacks

                                  Remember that Duolingo has integrated gamification in language learning? Well, Mindsnacks takes the concept to another level. There is an extensive list of languages available within the app comes with eight to nine games designed to learn grammar, vocabulary listening.

                                  You will also be able to visualize your progress since the app integrates monitoring capabilities. The layout and interface is nothing short of enjoyable, cheerful and charming.

                                  Download the app

                                  4. Busuu

                                    Bussu is a social language learning app. It is available on the web, Android, and iOS. It currently supports 12 languages and is free.

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                                    The functionality allows users to learn words, simple dialogues and questions related to the conversations. In addition, the dialogues are recorded by native speakers, which brings you close to the language learning experience.

                                    When you upgrade, you unlock important features including course materials. The subscription is $17 a month.

                                    Download the app

                                    5. Babbel

                                      Babbel is a subscription-based service founded in 2008. According to LinguaLift, it is a paid cousing of Duolingo. The free version comes with 40 classes, and does not require you to invest any money.

                                      Each of the classes starts with with a sequential teaching of vocabulary with the help of pictures. The courses are tailor made and adapted to the students’ level, allowing the learning to be adjusted accordingly.

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                                      If you started learning a language and stopped, Babbel will help you pick up where you started.

                                      Download the app

                                      Takeaways

                                      All the apps recommended are tailored for different needs, whether you’re beginning to learn a language or trying to pick back up one. All of them are designed by real-life native speakers and so provide you with a more concrete learning experience.

                                      Since these apps are designed to adapt to different kinds of learning styles, do check out which one is the most suitable for you.

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                                      Featured photo credit: Yura Fresh via unsplash.com

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