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Firefox

Tricks, Shortcuts, Add-Ons and Bookmarks


March 16th, 2008 last updated March 25th, 2008
Posted in: Firefox, Tricks

Since first installing Firefox a few years ago, I have customized my install in nearly every imaginable way short of modifying the source code. I thought I'd put together an entry discussing my suggestions on improving Firefox. These include add-ons I find useful, shortcuts that make navigating lightning fast, and other useful tricks.

I intend to continue adding to this as time goes by, so check back every now and then.

Tricks and Shortcuts

Shortcuts

  • ctrl + t: New Tab
  • ctrl + w: Close Tab
  • ctrl + 1-8: Select Tab #1-8
  • backspace / shift + backspace: back / forward
  • alt + d: Cursor to address bar – this one’s really useful; ctrl + l has the same functionality, however I like alt + d because left handed shortcuts leave the mouse free.

My favorite Firefox trick is the ability to do Google ‘I’m feeling lucky’ searches by simply typing in the address bar. For instance, by typing ‘wiki [an article name]’ you will normally get immediately taken to the Wikipedia article with that title (for a better way of searching Wikipedia, see the bookmarks section below). I never use the search bar in the top right, because it’s always so much faster to just search from the address bar – especially since 99 times out of 100 the first result is exactly what you’re looking for.

Add-Ons

This is not an all-encompassing list of the add-ons I’ve installed, instead I’ve just included the add-ons I think would be most useful to the rest of the world. Many of these will be more beneficial to web developers than the general populace, but most are useful in their own right, regardless of profession.

Download Statusbar is a better way to manage file downloads, moving it to a status bar at the bottom of the window, providing more information, such as download speed and giving the user more options once the file is downloaded.

Foxmarks is a centralized bookmark manager – all my bookmarks are automatically synced to the Foxmarks server, which keeps my bookmarks on my laptop, my desktop, and my portable drive up to date, in addition to allowing me to access them through the Foxmarks website.

HTML Validator modifies your View Source page to provide a built in HTML validator (which uses the same engine as the W3C validator) of any page you look at. Invaluable for web developers.

IE View loads a webpage in Internet Explorer. There are other options to provide this same functionality, such as IE Tab, but I prefer checking websites in the actual environment IE users will see, and this makes loading a page in IE just that easy.

Image Zoom adds a new menu to the right-click menu allowing you to resize an image – great for viewing details or playing around with page formatting.

Live HTTP Headers shows you the HTTP header requests and responses your browser sends and receives in real time. Not a whole lot of use for people not in the web development community, but maybe you’ll find a use for it nevertheless.

McAfee SiteAdvisor ranks, tests, and tracks websites, and then gives you a little icon in the corner of your browser Green, Yellow, or Red giving you their ranking of the site. Sites flagged as dangerous to even visit (such as browser exploiters and phishing schemes) redirect to a confirmation page before you even visit.

Nuke Anything Enhanced lets you remove unwanted parts of a website through the right-click menu. Remove ads, remove fluff from a print preview, this is a great little tool to play with website structure.

RefControl gives you total control of what referrer information is sent when you load a website. Rather than just disabling your referrer entirely, which can cause problems with some sites, this allows you to specify what referrer you should use for individual sites, as well as giving you a default option for all other sites. For instance, my setup gives the real referrer to pages linked from other pages on the same domain, and false information to any third party links.

Resizable Form Fields lets you scale form fields – how many times have you wanted to type a lot of text into a much too small form field on a website? This add-on lets you chose the size of form fields.

Split Browser is the natural extension of tabbed browsing, allowing you to open multiple pages in the same window, and navigating independently. I turned off the buttons which show up when your mouse nears an edge of a window, since it was just annoying, and I don’t use this add-on all that often, but when I do, it’s a really nice feature to have.

Tab Mix Plus manages your tabs and how you work with them, giving you extra options like protected and frozen tabs, and other tools. It’s highly customizable, and makes for a unique user experience.

Web Developer [Toolbar] is a absolutely fantastic tool, even for people who don’t build websites. It gives you control of just about everything on a web page. Cookies, CSS, forms, and more – the number of things you can do with this toolbar are innumerable.

Here are a few other extensions you may want to check out, but I didn’t feel like writing about: Greasemonkey - StumbleUpon

Bookmarks

One really useful trick with Firefox is the ability to set keywords with bookmarks, which you can then load by typing the keyword into the address bar. To set a keyword, right click on a bookmark and select ‘Properties’, and fill out the keyword field. For instance, I can type ‘webmail’ in the address bar and get taken to my Willamette Webmail account, or ‘internal’ to go to the Willamette internal site. Even better, you can bookmark URLs such as search pages and search straight from the keyword by placing a ‘%s’ (a wildcard marker) in the URL you bookmark. If you aren’t sure what I mean by that, maybe some examples of my favorite keyword searches will help make more sense:

I’ll be adding to this article whenever I think to, or find a new trick or add-on, so check back every now and then, why don’tcha?

Comments

ctrl + l

by bob on March 16th, 2008

you can also press ctrl + l to go to the address bar, i find it easier to press than alt + d

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