Six tricks on how to customize Firefox

Six tricks on how to customize Firefox

Firefox is an excellent browser for a lot of reasons, but one of the most significant factors is how it can be customized. Mozilla has worked hard to ensure the newest versions deliver options and features that you wouldn’t have in other browsers without add-ons. As these are available by default, all users can have the same access without the hassle of installing extensions that can bring about compatibility or security issues. Below are six tricks that may convince you to use Firefox.


Customize the main menu

Firefox 29, released in April of 2014, introduced the new, revamped “Auralis” interface to make customization easier. The most prominent change is the ability to completely customize the icon-driven main menu.

Accessing the function is extremely easy. Open the main menu and then press the “customize” link at the bottom. This opens a window customization view, where you are able to add or delete menu options by dragging them to and from the “Additional Tools and Features” field and change the order to suit.


Add/remove toolbar icons

You’ll be able to also customize the search bar field and bookmarks bar field by adding and removing items.

For example, if you want to see the Awesome Bar, click it and drag it out of the search bar location and into the “Additional Tools and Features” field. And if you would like your home page to be within the bookmarks field, just drag it there.

It is possible to also delete functions from any of your menus or toolbars by right-clicking them and hitting “Remove from Toolbar.” The only functions you cannot remove will be the Awesome Bar as well as the icon for the main menu.

All of the above applies to compatible Firefox Add-ons too.


Control the Awesome Bar with keyboard shortcuts

The Awesome Bar (formerly known as the location bar) is the primary search field inside Firefox. One technique to change what appears is to use keyboard shortcuts which customize Awesome Bar’s behaviour. Here’s the current list.

^ to search inside your browsing history

* to search within your bookmarks

+ to search in pages you have tagged

% to search within your presently open tabs

~ to search in pages you’ve typed

# to search in page titles

@ to search in web addresses (URLs).

For example if you wanted to look for MakeUseOf, only inside your bookmarks, you would type “makeuseof *” within the Awesome Bar. Remembering to include the space after the * symbol, else the search feature won’t work.

You can chain the criteria together for even more precise search results, for example by entering “makeuseof * android #” would show you only MakeUseOf bookmarks with Android inside the title.


Remove any unwanted Awesome Bar results

Awesome Bar is terrific, but it is can cause a privacy issue. Search results are catalogued automatically and available for later use. Clearing history is an easy solution, but you may not want to clear all of it.

The solution is simple. Any result that appears in the Awesome Bar could be highlighted by tapping the up/down arrow keys. When highlighted just tap the delete key to remove the result from appearing in Awesome Bar. Note that this will only work in your history. If you try this with your bookmarks, they’re going to disappear from the open Awesome Bar field but will re-appear after you search a second time.

It is possible to have broader control by opening the Selections menu and choosing Privacy. At the bottom is a location bar control drop-down menu. This menu allows you to totally exclude history, bookmarks or both from Awesome Bar results without deleting either.


Additional customize Awesome Bar with tags and key phrases

Another approach to control the Awesome Bar is via tags, a new feature that largely supersedes the old keywords. Tags can be added to any bookmarked web page whenever you have it open by clicking on the blue bookmark star within the toolbar (assuming you have have not removed it). This will open a field that shows, amongst other items, the tags. No tags are assigned by default.

Tags appear within the Show All Bookmarks window and are good for categorizing information, but that is not their only function. Tags also impact how things appear in the Awesome Bar. For example, if you’re organizing a big dinner for your family or friends and want speedy access to recipes you’ll be cooking. Just bookmark them and tag them as “family dinner” and they’ll appear every time you search for that term.


Connect through a proxy server

Although you may use a proxy alongside any browser, Firefox is exclusive in that it lets you enter proxy settings for your browser only. Other browsers need you to change proxy settings within your Internet Options, which means you do not have as much control over what goes through the proxy and what doesn’t.

You can find the proxy settings by opening Options, then Advanced settings and hitting the Network tab. Hit the “Settings” button to open proxy controls. There are four options ranging from no proxy to settings manually entered into Firefox. It is possible to also setup a proxy by pointing Firefox to the URL of a .pac configuration file.


Power users need to have Firefox

These six tricks prove that Firefox is definitely the go-to browser for power users. With Mozilla’s browser you have got far more control over your menus, toolbars and configuration of advanced search options.


Credit: MakeUseOf

Main image credit

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