Must Know Firefox Tweaks for All Users: From Grasshopper to the Zen Master

It is no secret that we, here at Tech Corner, are quite smitten with Firefox. It is our favorite browser, and quite frankly, I can’t fathom a single reason why it shouldn’t be everybody’s. If you fall in the “I’m Sticking With Internet Explorer (IE), Because That’s What I’ve Always Used” category, then stop it! Remember what Einstein said, “Insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expect different results.” Let me assure you that IE will NEVER be the giant it was in the 90’s when Netscape was the only alternative, no more than pegging your jeans will be cool again. If you are waiting for that day, you are going to be disappointed. Take my word for it, move to Firefox; I promise you won’t regret it, and I can equally promise if you stick with IE you will continue to have a miserable Internet experience. Just give the Fox a try for 1 week. If you can then prove to me IE runs better, I’ll post a picture of me wearing Steelers jersey on this blog (Those that know me, know I hate…..HATE…the Squealers!!!). Instead, I’m confident you’ll thank me…so you’re welcome.

“Don’t forget viruses and malware”….What the Bob Saget?!..Oh hell, here we go again…Bo get off my post with that ‘sky is falling’ propaganda! “Or what Ray Ray?”…Or what?! I’ll tell you ‘or what’…how about I just happen to insert a Photoshop with you and Bill Gates giving the Mento’s pose to IE9 in the header pic of your next post? “DUDE, you wouldn’t!”….Are you sure about that Bo? “Okay…okay… I’m off here….ya sick… sadistic…mother…” Sorry about that folks, I don’t know what it is with us interrupting each other’s posts every time we mention Firefox. Now, where was I? Oh yeah, the awesomeness that is Firefox.

Firefox is the most customizable web browser available today, and if you add the right tweaks – and there are some damned sweet ones – the sky’s the limit on the level awesomeness you can achieve! Under the hood there is also a ton of stuff you can tweak to make the Fox sweeter, more effective, and as we’ve already discussed faster. Some of these tweaks are a secret, and some as widely known as the fact that “Auto Tune” technology should win a Grammy for every pop song released in 2011. There are tweaks for Grasshopper as well as the Firefox Zen master. Today, we’ll look at my picks for both:

Tricks for Grasshopper

1. Tab Navigation

Yes, I agree, that tabs are super sweet for surfing the web. However, having to use the mouse to toggle around my open tabs sucks almost as bad as David Bowie’s acting in the Labyrinth…almost (if you don’t know what I mean, then RedBox it one time…ugghhh). This is my all-time favorite Fox tweak. When I found out there was a way to navigate my tabs using the keyboard, I came very close to giggling like a stoned school girl…seriously…I was VERY excited by this. Here’s how you do it (damn I should charge money for this one):

  • Ctrl+Tab = Move forward through tabs
  • Ctrl+Shift+Tab = Move backward through tabs
  • Ctrl+1-9 = choose specific tab

2. Smart Keywords

What if I told you there was a tool in the Fox, that not many people know about nor use? A secret tweak that lets you save the searches you use a lot as a single keyword. This is a sweet feature called Smart Keywords, and to set it up just follow these steps:

1.) Right Click in the search box
2.) Choose “Add a Keyword for This Search”
3.) Type the search keywords you want (e.g. David Hassellhoff’s German Comeback Tour)
4.) Type an easy to remember name for the shortcut (e.g. “Hoff”) and save it

Now every time you want to search the Knight Rider, just type “Hoff” in Firefox’s address bar, press enter and BAYWATCH!!!! The Hoff’s tour dates in an instant search!

3. Keyboard Shortcuts

It is here that Grasshopper’s begin to become Zen masters. It only takes a little time to learn these keyboard shortcuts, but once you have you will blaze a serious trail across the web (especially if you couple it with the speed tweaks). The following are a few from my personal collection of favorites; some pretty common some not so much:

Ctrl+T = New Tab
Ctrl+F = Find
Ctrl+D = Bookmark Page
Ctrl+K = Go to Search Box
Ctrl+L = Go to Address Bar
Ctrl+W = Close Tab
Alt+Left Arrow = Back
Alt+Right Arrow = Forward
F5 = Refresh/Reload

4.) Auto Complete

This keyboard shortcut deserves its own section, as it is not well known, but extremely useful. If you click in the address bar and type the name of a site using only its name minus “www.” or “.com” (i.e. Techcornerit.wordpress, Google, etc.) and press Ctrl+Enter, the “www” and “.com” are added automatically, and you’re taken to the site. Note: for .net use Shift+Enter, and .org addresses use Ctrl+ Shift+Enter. You’ll be amazed at how efficient this is once you get used to doing it.

5.) Mouse Shortcuts?

While using the mouse to navigate my tabs makes me want to stab myself to death with a plastic Spork most of the time, there are rare occasions where I’m already using the mouse and sticking with it is just easier. For these occasions you need to know these tricks:

Middle Click Link = Open in New Tab
Middle Click Tab = Closes Tab
Shift+Scroll Down = Back to previous page
Shift+Scroll Up = Goes to Next page

Tricks for the Zen Master

DISCLAIMER: All of the following tricks are made by tweaking the about:config file in Firefox. I’ve said before, as I am again, ABOUT:CONFIG IS NOT SOMETHING YOU WANT TO MESS WITH UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING!!! If you don’t know what a setting does, leave it alone. That said, to access this file type about:config into the address bar and accept the warning (“I’ll Be Careful”). This is where the following tweaks can be made.

1.) Speed Boost

I posted instructions on this a few weeks ago. Click here for that article; I just feel it needs to be mentioned again.

2.) Limit RAM Usage

This is a rare instance, but occasionally Firefox will take up too much memory on your computer. You’ll typically see this type of l behavior when you run a bunch of add-ons and useless toolbars. You can limit the amount of RAM Firefox uses by:

1.) In about:config search “browser.cache”
2.) Select “browser.cache.disk.capacity”, it most likely will be set to 50000, but depending on your memory capacity you can decrease this number. A good rule of thumb is if you have between 512MB and 1GB of RAM, try dropping it to 15000.

3.) Move Firefox to the Hard Drive When Minimized

A great way to use less memory with Firefox is to move Firefox to the Hard Drive (HDD) when Firefox is minimized. There is no noticeable speed change when you restore the session, so give it a shot. To do this:

1. In about:config right click anywhere in the window
2. Select New>Boolean
3. Name it “config.trim_on_minimize”
4. Set value to TRUE
5. Restart Firefox

It’s like this, if you don’t have Firefox get it now…like right now…you’re still here?! Firefox users you need to perform these tweaks right now as well. Regardless if you’re a rookie or a pro, you need Firefox as your browser and use these tweaks to really make it sizzle. Have more tweak ideas? Feel free share them in the comments section. Till next time…keep it saucy….

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