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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 May 14, 2019

                            8 Replacements for Google Notebook

                            8 Replacements for Google Notebook

                            Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

                            1. Zoho Notebook
                              If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
                            2. Evernote
                              The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
                            3. Net Notes
                              If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
                            4. i-Lighter
                              You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
                            5. Clipmarks
                              For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
                            6. UberNote
                              If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
                            7. iLeonardo
                              iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
                            8. Zotero
                              Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

                            I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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                            In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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