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One Firefox Toolbar to Rule Them All

One Firefox Toolbar to Rule Them All
One Firefox Toolbar to Rule Them All

If you’re like me, the first thing you started doing when you downloaded the Firefox browser was start customizing the look and feel to suit yourself.

Since then I have continually made changes, added new extensions and improvements that I thought would improve my productivity.

A goal early on was putting everything that I used into one toolbar so to maximize screen space. Here is what I’ve done so I only look at one toolbar and the tab bar [plus status bar].

firefox customize menu

The Menu Bar

This is where you want all your stuff – because it’s the toolbar you can’t remove through Firefox’s Customize utility. All the others can be hidden from view.

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Right-click on the toolbar, hit Customize and start moving everything you want to the Menu bar. Leave the Google Search box. It’s extensively useless if you use Smart Keywords in the location bar to carry out searches on web pages.

Get Google Toolbar and move anything you actually use into your Menu toolbar. If you like to see the PageRank of all the sites you visit, you can move the meter to the Menu bar.

If you want to access webpages from your toolbar, drag the ‘double pages’ icon from the Bookmarks toolbar. This will put anything you bookmark to the ‘Bookmarks Toolbar’ to this area. When adding a bookmark to the ‘Bookmark Toolbar’, remove the title so only it’s favicon is shown.

firefox bookmarks toolbar customize button

If you use the Web Developer Toolbar, only drag the icons you use regularly and leave the rest. These buttons have drop-down menus to quickly access the stuff you use the most.

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Add any other buttons for extensions you use regularly.

Saving Space

The most important thing about using only one toolbar is maximizing the space you’re using. The first step is only adding buttons you use regularly and need to use as buttons. If you are happy doing the same thing with a keyboard shortcut or a smart keyword, then don’t bother so much with the button.

Remove what you don’t use. Use the Escape key instead of a button. F5 to refresh. Get MileWideBack to navigate back and forth between pages.

Custom Buttons

With this extension I found two great ‘custom buttons’ that save me the most space.

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The first is Compact Menu. This compiles all of the menus into one expandable icon. If I need to, it’s there and easy to navigate. Get more here.

firefox menu bar

Other Extensions

Stop/Reload Button – Combines the Stop and Reload buttons so only one is showing at any given time.

Menu Editor – You might want to have occasional access to certain buttons. Use Menu Editor to trim your Context Menu to what you use.

UI Tweaker – This extension provides some handy hacks to slim down your toolbar. Anything from removing the Go button to only allowing favicons in your Bookmarks Toolbar.

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Auto Hide – With this plugin you can customize what exactly happens when you put Firefox into fullsceen mode. Hit F11 and you can rig it so only your Menu bar and the status bar are showing. Also you can tell Firefox exactly which existing toolbars you want to be visible when you come out of fullscreen mode.

This means you can surf in fullscreen mode with only one toolbar, but if you want to quickly access other toolbars – even a secondary customized version on the Navigation Toolbar – all you need to do is hit F11.

Customization

There’s not much to it other than figuring out what you like and what you use the most. Firefox is too customizable to use stock. Keep hacking it for productivity.

firefox logo

More by this author

Craig Childs

Craig is an editor and web developer who writes about happiness and motivation at Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

How to Self-Taught Effectively

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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