Top 10 Smart Browsing Hacks for Firefox

By Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Friday, September 19, 2008

Gone are the days of buggy, infection prone and troublesome Internet Explorer. The popular product on which I want to throw some light on, needs no introduction. The Guinness record holder software for maximum downloads in a single day is the one and only Firefox. I am writing this article in Firefox and most likely you are going to read it in Firefox too (if not, why not?). So without further ado, I present you my choice of top 10 smart browsing hacks for Firefox:

  1. How to rapidly search any website directly from Firefox address bar
  2. HowTo Speed Up Firefox
  3. How to Type URL’s Faster
  4. How to Navigate Tabs from Keyboard
  5. How To Make Advanced Configuration Changes in the Guts of Firefox
  6. 13 Time saving Keyboard shortcuts in Firefox
  7. How To Get Rid of The Annoying Scroll Tab Button
  8. How to Start Downloading Add-ons Immediately
  9. How to Limit Firefox Memory Usage
  10. How to Move or Remove The ‘close tab’ Button
  11. Bonus Tip: How to Personalize Firefox

1. How To Rapidly Search Any Website Directly From Firefox Address Bar

This is a very useful trick that most of us don’t use. Let’s take an e.g.

  1. Go to
  2. Right click on the search option and select Add a Keyword for this search
  3. At the pop-up box, give it a name and let the keyword be an easy one, say find
  4. Now whenever you want to do a search anything within taragana , go to your Firefox address bar
  5. Type find <search item>
    and Bingo. you are directly there inside targana. Saves a lot of time no ?

2. How to Speed Up Firefox

This is one of the most vital tricks for you if you want to gear up with a quick browser. If you have a broadband connection (and most of us do), you can use pipe lining 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 dial-up connections). Here’s how:

  1. Type about:config into the address bar and hit return.
  2. Type network.http in the filter field, and change the following settings (double-click on them to change them):
  3. Set network.http.pipelining to true
  4. Set network.http.proxy.pipelining to true
  5. Set network.http.pipelining.maxrequests to a number like 30. This will allow it to make 30 requests at once.
  6. 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.

It may seem greek or latin to you. Trust me, its not going to harm your computer or Firefox in any way, rather you will enjoy much faster browsing from now on. Try it and let me know.

3. How to Type URL’s Faster

You don’t have to type a https://www. and then the website name followed by .com to enter go to a website as before. Now you can just type the name and Firefox will do the rest. Let me show you with a simple example:

Type taragana and then press Ctrl + Enter and you are done!

Firefox will convert taragana to internally and take you to the website.


  • addresses, press Shift-Enter.
  • For .org addresses, press Control-Shift-Enter

4. How to Navigate Tabs from Keyboard

Usually the most used and arguably the most important feature of Firefox is tabs so much so that Microsoft was forced to imitate it in IE 7. Suppose you are surfing a number of websites at a time, but to navigate between them you would normally use a mouse to switch between tabs. Not any more. Here are some cool tab navigation techniques using just your keyboard:

  • Ctrl+Tab (rotate forward among tabs; when it reaches the last tab, it moves forward to the first tab)
  • Ctrl+Shft+Tab (rotate to the previous tab; similar to above, Ctrl-Shift-Tab from first tab will take you to the last tab)
  • Ctrl+1-9 (choose a tab to jump to by number)

5. How To Make Advanced Configuration Changes in the Guts of Firefox

You can use the following instructions to view and change advanced configuration settings in Firefox:

  1. Go to address bar
  2. Type about:config press ENTER and you will see it all, you can change it all.
  3. For more tips , see this

6. 13 Time saving Keyboard shortcuts in Firefox

Hang on. You don’t wanna use mouse every time, do you? Then let’s use keyboard only, as veterans. It just takes a litle while to remember these, but once you do, your browsing will be much faster and efficient. Here are some of the most common softwares

  1. Spacebar (page down)
  2. Shift-Spacebar (page up)
  3. Ctrl+F (find)
  4. Alt-N (find next)
  5. Ctrl+D (bookmark page)
  6. Ctrl+T (new tab)
  7. Ctrl+K (go to search box
  8. Ctrl+L (go to address bar)
  9. Ctrl+= (increase text size)
  10. Ctrl+- (decrease text size)
  11. Ctrl-W (close tab)
  12. F5 (reload)
  13. Alt-Home (go to home page)

7. How To Get Rid of The Annoying Scroll Tab Button

One of the most annoying feature of Firefox is that when you start opening more tabs it does not reduce the tab width appreciably. Instead it shows a scrollbar so you can scroll to find your tabs. With lots of tabs, it is mighty inconvenient and hard to navigate using the scrollbar. Suppose at some point of time you have a lot of websites to surf through and you have opened all of them with tabs. How annoying will it be to press the scroll button every time you need to go to one website from another? It would be much easier if Firefox reduced the width of tabs to lower than 100px instead. To solve this problem and get rid of the scrollbar here is a simple trick:

  1. Go to Fireox address bar
  2. Type about:config, press ENTER
  3. At the filter bar, type browser.tabs.tabMinWidth
  4. Right click on the result displayed and click Modify
  5. Change it to 0 (by default its 100). You are done.

Note: You can reduce the minimum width to 50px, 60px, anything you like. The lesser the number is, more tabs can show without having to use dreaded scroll bar.

8. How to Start Downloading Add-ons Immediately

Add-ons are special features in the Firefox browser. So is your every second. That is why you may not like to wait even for the mandatory 5 seconds / 2 seconds (depending on Firefox version) before downloading any add-on. Why not start downloading add-ons immediately?

Here is how you can do it:

  1. Go to Firefox address bar
  2. Type about:config, press ENTER
  3. At the filter bar, type security.dialog_enable_delay
  4. Right click on the result displayed and click Modify
  5. >Change the value to ‘0′

9. How to Limit Firefox Memory Usage

Do you think that Firefox is slowing your computer down by guzzling lots of memory? Now I will show you a way to reign your Firefox from guzzling up your memory

  1. Go to about:config
  2. Filter browser.cache and select browser.cache.disk.capacity.
  3. 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.

Now you can tell Firefox exactly how much memory it can use. Don’t make it too low as that may affect performance

10. How to Move or Remove The ‘close tab’ Button

Do you accidentally click on the close button of Firefox’s tabs? You can move them or even remove them, again through about:config. Edit the preference for browser.tabs.closeButtons. Here are the meaning for 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)

Bonus Tip: How to Personalize Firefox

You have been told about the best tricks of Firefox until now. What if I present to you something that allows you to change the entire look and feel of Firefox and give it a unique character just for you? The technique I am talking about is to change the styles, the fonts and almost every minute detail inside Firefox.

  1. Crete a userChrome.css file in the Profile Folder
  2. Then use this Tutorial for advanced changes

To find Profile Folder

1. Choose Start → Run
2. Type in %APPDATA%
3. Press OK. A Windows Explorer window will appear.
4. In the Windows Explorer window, choose Mozilla → Firefox → Profiles. Each folder in this folder is a profile on your computer.

So now you have got 10 goodies to show your friends or use them yourself. Fire up your browsing and keep a track of this column because you bet I am gonna come up with more.

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