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15 Coolest Firefox Tricks Ever

15 Coolest Firefox Tricks Ever

    Everybody’s favorite open-source browser, Firefox, is great right out of the box. And by adding some of the awesome extensions available out there, the browser just gets better and better.

    But look under the hood, and there are a bunch of hidden (and some not-so-secret) tips and tricks available that will crank Firefox up and pimp your browser. Make it faster, cooler, more efficient. Get to be a Jedi master with the following cool Firefox tricks.

    1) More screen space. Make your icons small. Go to View – Toolbars – Customize and check the “Use small icons” box.

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    2) Smart keywords. If there’s a search you use a lot (let’s say IMDB.com’s people search), this is an awesome tool that not many people use. Right-click on the search box, select “Add a Keyword for this search”, give the keyword a name and an easy-to-type and easy-to-remember shortcut name (let’s say “actor”) and save it. Now, when you want to do an actor search, go to Firefox’s address bar, type “actor” and the name of the actor and press return. Instant search! You can do this with any search box.

    3) Keyboard shortcuts. This is where you become a real Jedi. It just takes a little while to learn these, but once you do, your browsing will be super fast. Here are some of the most common (and my personal favs):

    • Spacebar (page down)
    • Shift-Spacebar (page up)
    • Ctrl+F (find)
    • Alt-N (find next)
    • Ctrl+D (bookmark page)
    • Ctrl+T (new tab)
    • Ctrl+K (go to search box)
    • Ctrl+L (go to address bar)
    • Ctrl+= (increase text size)
    • Ctrl+- (decrease text size)
    • Ctrl-W (close tab)
    • F5 (reload)
    • Alt-Home (go to home page)

    4) Auto-complete. This is another keyboard shortcut, but it’s not commonly known and very useful. Go to the address bar (Control-L) and type the name of the site without the “www” or the “.com”. Let’s say “google”. Then press Control-Enter, and it will automatically fill in the “www” and the “.com” and take you there – like magic! For .net addresses, press Shift-Enter, and for .org addresses, press Control-Shift-Enter.

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    5) Tab navigation. Instead of using the mouse to select different tabs that you have open, use the keyboard. Here are the shortcuts:

    • Ctrl+Tab (rotate forward among tabs)
    • Ctrl+Shft+Tab (rotate to the previous tab)
    • Ctrl+1-9 (choose a number to jump to a specific tab)

    6) Mouse shortcuts. Sometimes you’re already using your mouse and it’s easier to use a mouse shortcut than to go back to the keyboard. Master these cool ones:

    • Middle click on link (opens in new tab)
    • Shift-scroll down (previous page)
    • Shift-scroll up (next page)
    • Ctrl-scroll up (decrease text size)
    • Ctrl-scroll down (increase text size)
    • Middle click on a tab (closes tab)

    7) Delete items from address bar history. Firefox’s ability to automatically show previous URLs you’ve visited, as you type, in the address bar’s drop-down history menu is very cool. But sometimes you just don’t want those URLs to show up (I won’t ask why). Go to the address bar (Ctrl-L), start typing an address, and the drop-down menu will appear with the URLs of pages you’ve visited with those letters in them. Use the down-arrow to go down to an address you want to delete, and press the Delete key to make it disappear.

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    8) User chrome. If you really want to trick out your Firefox, you’ll want to create a UserChrome.css file and customize your browser.

    9) Create a user.js file. Another way to customize Firefox, creating a user.js file can really speed up your browsing. You’ll need to create a text file named user.js in your profile folder (see this to find out where the profile folder is). Created by techlifeweb.com, this example explains some of the things you can do in its comments.

    10) about:config. The true power user’s tool, about.config isn’t something to mess with if you don’t know what a setting does. You can get to the main configuration screen by putting about:config in the browser’s address bar.

    11) Add a keyword for a bookmark
    . Go to your bookmarks much faster by giving them keywords. Right-click the bookmark and then select Properties. Put a short keyword in the keyword field, save it, and now you can type that keyword in the address bar and it will go to that bookmark.

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    12) Speed up Firefox. If you have a broadband connection (and most of us do), you can use pipelining to speed up your page loads. This allows Firefox to load multiple things on a page at once, instead of one at a time (by default, it’s optimized for dialup connections). Here’s how:

    • Type “about:config” into the address bar and hit return. Type “network.http” in the filter field, and change the following settings (double-click on them to change them):
    • Set “network.http.pipelining” to “true”
    • Set “network.http.proxy.pipelining” to “true”
    • Set “network.http.pipelining.maxrequests” to a number like 30. This will allow it to make 30 requests at once.
    • Also, right-click anywhere and select New-> Integer. Name it “nglayout.initialpaint.delay” and set its value to “0”. This value is the amount of time the browser waits before it acts on information it receives.

    13) Limit RAM usage. If Firefox takes up too much memory on your computer, you can limit the amount of RAM it is allowed to us. Again, go to about:config, filter “browser.cache” and select “browser.cache.disk.capacity”. It’s set to 50000, but you can lower it, depending on how much memory you have. Try 15000 if you have between 512MB and 1GB ram.

    14) Reduce RAM usage further for when Firefox is minimized. This setting will move Firefox to your hard drive when you minimize it, taking up much less memory. And there is no noticeable difference in speed when you restore Firefox, so it’s definitely worth a go. Again, go to about:config, right-click anywhere and select New-> Boolean. Name it “config.trim_on_minimize” and set it to TRUE. You have to restart Firefox for these settings to take effect.

    15) Move or remove the close tab button. Do you accidentally click on the close button of Firefox’s tabs? You can move them or remove them, again through about:config. Edit the preference for “browser.tabs.closeButtons”. Here are the meanings of each value:

    • 0: Display a close button on the active tab only
    • 1:(Default) Display close buttons on all tabs
    • 2:Don’t display any close buttons
    • 3:Display a single close button at the end of the tab bar (Firefox 1.x behavior)

    Got any favorite Firefox tips or tricks of your own? Let us know in the comments.

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    The power of habit

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to make a reminder works for you

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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