Archive | Firefox Support

Turning a Bookmark into a Search Tool

Editing Bookmarks to Add Search FeaturesBookmarks in Firefox have a very powerful feature that most people don’t know about. Let’s take a look at this:

  1. Click on Bookmarks.
  2. Right-click on any bookmark you have there.
  3. Choose properties.

Now, third from the top, there is a text box called “Keyword”. Most likely, this is blank because by default it’s not used at all. Welcome to the wonderful world to keyword bookmarking. Let me show you how to use it.

Say for instance that you wanted to create a keyword bookmark for the search on firefoxfacts.com. Ok, lets go to that page. After using the Firefox Facts search using the words “test”, I come to the page:

http://www.firefoxfacts.com/index.php?s=test

If I bookmark it, it will look like any other bookmark.

Then, if I look at the properties of my newly created bookmark, I can make a few changes to it to transform it into a keyword bookmark:

  1. Notice that the my search term “test” is in the address in the location field.
  2. Replace that with the string “%s” to get http://www.firefoxfacts.com/index.php?s=%s.
  3. Add a keyword to the keyword field. I chose “fxfacts” but anything will work. Use something short and you can remember.
  4. Press OK.

Yay, now we have a keyword bookmark. This is how to use it:

  1. Type the keyword of the bookmark in the address bar. (In my example “fxfacts”)
  2. Type any search terms after that. (My example: “fxfacts bookmarks”)
  3. Press the enter key.

Firefox will now take me to the Firefox Facts search for bookmarks just like that. Let’s see IE7 can do that!

Post by Samuel Brisby – Sam is currently a student majoring in computer science who loves and supports anything open-source especially the Firefox browser. Questions or comments can be sent to spamuel42 (at) gmail.com.

Your 5 Most Popular Extensions

Best Firefox ExtensionsWho better to get suggestions for than the public at large?

The Mozilla team does a pretty good job at keeping their ear to the ground and tracking the best of the best extensions out there. Here are the five most popular extentions, according to the official web site.

Agree or disagree?

1. VideoDownloader – Alright, number one on the list does make sense to me because a lot of people like downloading the “cat gets caught in ceiling fan” video to show to friends and family without needing to visit the (insert your favorite video web site here) link again and again.

2. Adblock Plus – Yet another obvious or “duh!” selection for the list. A few Online ads are fine and dandy. Heck I have them because I have to make a living somehow. (not a guilt trip, just a reminder) Other ads are dangerous or just out right annoying. This does a fine job at ditching those.

3. Download Statusbar – I have been using this one since almost day one. I do a lot of downloading – and I think having the download box with the status pop up at me is just a little annoying. This fixes that.

4. NoScript – Kind of surprised to see this one so high on the list. NoScript allows JavaScript, Java and other executable content to run only from trusted domains of your choice which keeps the good guys in and the bad guys out.

5. Greasemonkey – Come on, everybody loves Greasemonkey! This extension allows you to add functionality to both Firefox and web sites you browse. Check out our Greasemonkey tip archive for a lot of good suggestion on what you can do with it after you get it installed.

So with that said, what is going to be the next “big favorite” that everybody is going to be sure to install next time the open up our favorite browser of choice?

What is the Firefox Search Box?

The search box in Firefox is that box for searching (boy, definitions don’t get any better than that) usually located in the upper right of your browser window. By default you see it set to Google, but did you know you can use others that are listed there or install more of your own?

To use the search box, all you need to do is type in a phrase you’d like to search for into the box, and then hit the “Enter” key on your keyboard. From there you’ll be taken to a Web page with search results as you would see by going to the search engine’s Web site and doing it directly.

If you want to choose one of the other search engines you have installed, just click on the little square logo next to the search engine icon and you should get a drop down box with all the search engines you have installed. Pick the one you want to use, and then its icons should be shown beside the search box. To switch back, follow the same steps.

If there is a search engine that you need that doesn’t come with Firefox by default you can install it yourself to use. You can find a list of popular search plugins here. For even more choices, check out the Mycroft Project. If you want to make your own – this Web page is a good place to start learning how to do just that.

Firefox Keyboard Shortcuts to Remember

Keyboard ShortcutsThere are a handful of keyboard shortcuts I always use with Firefox. Maybe I’m just becoming lazier as I get older, before Firefox it doesn’t seem like I ever used keyboard combinations to make my way around a program that often.

I could toss in something there about how Firefox has made me a better person, but that might be going a little overboard. Here are a few keyboard shortcuts that I use on a daily basis.

Ctrl + Shift + T – Use this to pull up a tab that you might have closed by mistake. I always hate closing the wrong tab when I am cleaning up Firefox after doing some heavy duty browsing. This shortcut is a life saver for me in that regard.

Ctrl + T – Use this keyboard combo to open up a new tab. I used to have an icon on the toolbar to do this. That just takes way too much time though. It is much easier for me to hit Ctrl and T to get the new tab I need.

Space Bar – Get to scrolling down the Web page a little faster by hitting the space bar key. No big secret to this one – but it is helpful.

Ctrl + B – Pull your bookmarks up in the sidebar with this wonderful keyboard combo. Helpful for finding that one bookmark that is buried three or four folders deep.

Have any other keyboard combos you think everybody should use?

How Does Firefox Handle RSS Feeds?

With the release of Firefox 2, the browser has done a much better job with handling RSS feeds.

Instead of throwing you up a bunch of random XML code they actually give you a pretty nice interface to learn from and use when clicking on that little orange subscription button you see on all the Web sites these days.

For an example, let’s use the RSS feed for Firefox Facts:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/firefoxfacts

Now when you launch that in Firefox, you will be given a clean easy to read interface. You can see all the latest links and summeries from Firefox Facts and at the top you will have a few subscription options. You can use one of the exteneral RSS feed readers on the list or you can choose to add it as a Live Bookmark.

What is a Live Bookmark? Here is how the Mozilla team describes it:

Whether it’s news from CNN and the BBC, or posts on your friend’s blog, the Web is updated continually. Firefox’s Live Bookmarks feature automatically keeps track of these updates for you, so you always know when new content has been added to your favorite sites. With Live Bookmarks, the content comes to you. Instead of constantly checking Web pages for changes and additions, a Live Bookmark delivers updates to you as soon as they are available.

Another way to gain access to a Web site’s RSS feed is to look for the little orange RSS icon in the address bar. Depending on what theme you use it might look a little different but when you click on it it should give you a few subscription options. If you select to add it as a live bookmark – it opens up the previously mentioned styled RSS feed.

There is one more RSS in Firefox option I’d like to share with you. To configure a few things about how Firefox handles RSS feeds navigate yourself to Menu > Tools > Options… and then click on the tab for “Feeds”. From here you can choose if you want to get a preview of the feed everytime you see an RSS feed in the browser or you can set it to automatically subscribe using the Live Bookmark system or any other RSS reader out there (both Online and Offline).

There is more than one way to skin a cat and there is more than one way to subscribe to your favorite RSS feeds in Firefox. For a few more subsciption options for Firefox Facts please check out the Subscription Links Web page at FirefoxFacts.com.

How Can I Manage My Firefox Bookmarks?

After you have been on the Web for a while, you collect a ton of bookmarks from Web sites you have visited and want to visit again. Now organizing these and putting them in places where it is easier for you to find them is another task that some might hate to do. So how do you manage your Firefox bookmarks?

To get to the Bookmarks manager click on “Bookmarks” in the menu bar and then click on “Manage Bookmarks…”. A new window should come up with your Bookmarks Manager loaded inside.

Now this is where all the magic happens as far as bookmarks go. You can add new bookmarks from here. You can organize them into new folders. You can drag and drop them around to where you need them to be.

In the Bookmarks Manager, if you click File and then “Import” you can import your bookmarks from another browser or from a file. If you want to export your bookmarks to back them up or take them to another browser, all you need to do is go to File and then hit “Export”. You can then save them anywhere you wish as a “.html” file.

One more neat feature that people don’t pay much attention to is the “View” option in the Bookmark Manager’s menu bar. Clicking on that will allow you to sort your bookmarks in any number of ways. If you are looking for a specific one – this would be the way to find it.

How do you add things to the Bookmarks Toolbar? All you need to do is drag and drop bookmarks or folders into the folder called “Bookmarks Toolbar Folder”. If this name is a little too long for you – you can also rename it and you shouldn’t be hurting anything. I renamed mine to “Links”.

Can I Customize Firefox’s Toolbars?

Sick with that default way your icons look and you want to change things around a ‘bit? It is easy enough to do if you know where to look. Heck you could pretty much remove everything above your tab bar if you wanted to. The easiest way to customize your toolbar space would be to right-click on it and then click on the “Customize…” menu option.

From there everything is pretty easy to figure out. You can drag things into the box that pops up to remove them, and then click an drag things out of the box and into the menu to add them to the toolbar. On the bottom of that popup box you see a few other options as well.

The drop down box gives you the option to show just the icons, icons and text descriptions or just the text. If you don’t like the pretty icons, go hardcore and use the text only options. Personally I am an “icons only” kind of guy.

I don’t use the space and flexable space very much. They will help you push some of your icons around to the far left or far right if you need them to be there. The seperator will help you put little bars between your icons and toolbar spaces so things look nice and neat.

All the other icons you see there should be fairly familiar. If you have installed a few extensions, you might also see buttons for them there that you can drag over to your toolbar space.

Next thing you see if a check box option for using small icons. I have this one checked as well, because by doing so it shrinks my buttons down and gives me more toolbar space to work with. That’s more room for adding other neat buttons and options up there. It also helps to give you a little more viewing space where your Web sites are displayed too.

There is a button to add a new toolbar too. Use this if you need a new spot to expand all your buttons and options to. The last option you see here is for the folks that try to customize but end up messing things up and they don’t know how to go back.

Just hit the “Restore Default” button and everything will go back to the way it looked when you first installed Firefox (well, toolbar and icon positions anyways).

What Are Firefox Themes?

Themes in Firefox are little files you can download and install that change the look and feel of the browser. You can think of it as changing the external skin that you see when you use Firefox from day to day. This is just one more useful way to personalize Firefox and make it your own.

The easiest way to download new themes is to open up Firefox, then go to Tools then click on Add-ons. When that Window pops up, click on the “Themes” tab and then click on the “Get Themes” link on the bottom. This will load up Mozilla’s official Firefox themes Web site. If you don’t want to go through all of that to visit it – just bookmark this link:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/browse/type:2

Now you are ready to give Firefox a new look. Search around and find a theme that you like and click on the install link you find on the Web page. After that, you should get pop up Window come up and ask you if you’d really like to install this new theme. Go ahead and continue from there – then once it is finished it will ask you to restart Firefox. Click away there too – it is ok to do.

Now to use your new theme, you’ll need to go to Tools then Add-ons then click on the Themes tab. If everything was done correctly you will find the theme you just picked as a selectable option now. Click on it, and then push the button that says “Use Theme”. Now the next time you restart Firefox the default theme will be gone and your new one should have taken it’s place. You can always go back by going through and to the same options again as well.

How can you download themes from other Web sites? This is a little more tricky – but try these steps.

  1. Download the theme file to your desktop
  2. Open up the Add-ons menu, and then click on the tab for themes
  3. Drag and drop the theme file into the theme selection box

If done correctly then you should see the new theme start to install. From here you can just follow along with the “continue” and “ok” buttons and should be good to go.

What Are Firefox Extensions?

Extensions in Firefox are exactly what you probably think they are. They extend the browser and add extra functionality that is not built in by default. There are thousands are extensions to choose from, but you don’t need to install every single one. Just pick up the ones you really need.

The easiest way to download new extensions is to open up Firefox, then go to Tools then click on Add-ons. When that Window pops up, click on the “Get Extensions” link on the bottom. This will load up Mozilla’s official Firefox extensions Web site. If you don’t want to go through all of that to visit it – just bookmark this link:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/browse/type:1

From there you can navigate yourself around and find some extensions that might interest you. For an example, lets say you want to use the Download Statusbar extension. All you need to do is click the “Install Now” button on that Web page for it.

After you do that, a new window should pop up asking you if you really wanted to install this. Wait for the countdown on the button to run out, and then click “Install Now”. After that you should see it downloading and when it is finished Firefox will ask you to restart the browser. Go ahead and do that, then when it returns your extension should be installed.

One more thing you might watch out for is that the extension works with the version of Firefox that you are using. Via the Mozilla Addon-ons Web site – they give you a version number of Firefox that the extension should be compatible with. If you have a problem getting it loaded, that might be the reason why.

You can download Firefox extensions from other Web sites as well. When you do, and you click on their install links you’ll get a warning message come up under your tab bar saying something to the effect of “this Web site is not authorized to do that”. If you are sure you want to install it, just hit OK and you should be good to go. Another nice thing about Firefox, it’s secure – but it keeps it simple.

What about plugins?

Plugins help your browser perform specific functions like viewing special graphic formats or playing multimedia files. Plugins are slightly different from extensions, which modify or add to existing functionality.

You can download plugins for Java, Windows Media, Quicktime, Flash and more from this Web site.

Why Should I Switch To Firefox?

This is the type of question you might ask yourself before moving over to what I would consider a better browser. Sure Opera, Internet Explorer and others might have their good sides and bad sides. I just feel like Firefox beats every other browser hands down.

Don’t just listen to me though, here are some other good resources and articles on why and how you can switch to Mozilla Firefox.

What is your favorite reason for switching?