Over 40 Proven Ways to Get Far More Out of Firefox

by Ostatic Staff - Apr. 04, 2008

Did you know that according to a recent Forrester report, Mozilla's open source Firefox browser now reaches 18 percent of corporate desktops? That's healthy news for the Internet browser market, where competition is needed.

I use Firefox almost exclusively as my browser (sometimes Internet Explorer works better for applications with, say, lots of pop-ups), and I'm a big believer that you can get much more out of it if you investigate the excellent extensions and enhancements available for it. In this post, I'll round up some good coverage we've done on OStatic's sister site WebWorkerDaily.com, and other sources, on these enhancements. Try them--you definitely won't regret it.

Many users of Firefox spend hours a day in the application, so even incremental boosts in efficiency can save lots of time and hassle. To get a big efficiency boost out of your Firefox sessions, spend a few minutes brushing up on navigational tips for the browser--particulary focusing on using tabs properly. In this post you'll find tips on how to open links in new tabs, close tabs with the scroll wheel on your mouse, increase/decrease text size on any web page, scroll with gestures, and open links in new windows. Check the reader comments in the link above as well.

Mike Gunderloy, who writes for this blog, compiled a fantastic list of really useful Firefox extensions. These include Faviconize Tab (if you like to work with a lot of tabs open), Firebug--great for developers, and MenuX, for customizing your interface. Check out the 75 reader commments for the post above to find many more interesting Firefox extensions. Also, one of my most recommended Firefox extensions is Foxmarks. If you use Firefox on more than one computer, it does a great job of synchronizing your bookmarks on them. Finally, Lifehack.org has a nice top ten list of favorite extensions.

Have you ever typed about:config into Firefox's address bar? If you do, you'll get back a shocking hairball of files that you can modify to configure and customize your Firefox installation. Some people like to play with these. I don't like to, and that's why I'm a big fan of FireTune. FireTune is a free, downloadable utility that automates the process of improving your Firefox setup. The application simply asks you to specify a few questions about your computer and connection speed, then automatically configures Firefox for optimal performance—in seconds. After you run it, you’ll find that pages and objects render faster, and your overall experience feels cleaner and neater. Highly recommended.

While Firefox tips abound online, I'm a big fan of Robert Accettura's hefty collection of tips. Example: If your history of recently visited sites drop-down list is getting bloated with sites you don't want in there, type the partial name of the site you want to jettison in the address bar, hover your mouse arrow over the site's URL in your history list, and hit Shift-Delete. Gone baby, gone.

One last note: While it's still a beta and has some instabilities, you may want to try the newly released Beta 5 of Version 3 of Firefox. It has some instabilities and isn't recommended by Mozilla as your primary browser yet (for one thing, it won't work with most extensions), but I'm running it on a virtual machine and it's much faster and slicker than previous versions. Be careful with it--a virtual machine is best at this point.

Do you know of any good Firefox extensions, customization utilities, or about:config hacks? I'm sure there are a lot of Firefox users out there. Please tell us what your favorite ways to optimize the browser are in the comments.