Archive | Usability

Use Firefox’s Spellchecker Anywhere!

Did you know that Firefox comes in handy when it comes to proof reading pages?  Using a simple bookmarklet, you can easily enable Firefox’s built in spell checker on any web site.

The first step to take would be to bookmark this link (or drag and drop it onto your bookmarks toolbar).

+ spell check

When the bookmarklet is clicked, Firefox will turn on the built in spellchecker and highlight any misspelled words that are on the page you are currently browsing.  You can check for suggested changes too, of course they will not be saved to the page though.  This quick bookmarklet does come in might handy though for anybody who spends their time proof reading any online content.

(Kudos to Download Squad and UrbanoAlvarez.es!)

Ditch Your Unused Search Engines

imageI usually don’t have a lot of clutter in my browser, but my search engine collection had gotten a little crazy, till I cleaned it out yesterday.  Right now, I have it down to five – because I really didn’t need the 15 I had, because I hadn’t used ten or eleven of them in months or years.

How can you remove your unused search engines?  Click on the Firefox search box, and then go down and select the Manage Search Engines… option. Now, on the Manage Search Engine List you can move up, move down or remove search engines you don’t use anymore.  

Just because you CAN add 200 or more search engines doesn’t mean you should.  This is just one more quick way you can lighten the load on your favorite browser.

Make HTML 5 Videos Go Full Screen

Full Screen HTML 5 Videos The talk about Firefox 3.5 supporting the HTML 5 support for playing videos without the need of a player was pretty sweet.  Seeing it in action, now that I have Firefox 3.5 installed is even sweeter.  You know what would put the icing on the cake?  If I could make those videos go to full screen resolutions.

The Full Screen Video add-on for Firefox does that.  Once installed, it adds a “Full Screen” menu option, when you right-click on any HTML5 powered video.  As of right now the only two known issues with this awesome extension are:

  • When switching to full screen, the video will load and play from the start.
  • Full screen is really only implemented on Windows at this point. On other operating systems, it’s merely a maximized window.

Other than that Full Screen Video gives you a simple addition to an already awesome feature of Firefox.  You can pickup this add-on via the Firefox Add-ons web site or check out the official web site for more information on the project.

Remove Chat from iGoogle

Remove Chat from iGoogle!

If you are a user of the Stylish extension, you will love this little tip.  I use iGoogle, however I never stay on the page long enough to use the embedded chat they included a while back.  However I am happy to say I found a solution. 

Install this Stylish user style:

Once doing so, the chat (as you seen in the screenshot above) disappears.  To make it work for me, I had to change:

http://www.google.com/ig?hl=en

to

http://www.google.com/ig

However, once that was done – it worked flawlessly.  An easy hack for a very lovable web page.  Got to love these Stylish user styles!

Smart Zooming in Firefox

Smart zooming in Firefox

One feature I really love in Firefox, that probably does not get the credit it deserves, is the smart zooming features.  A feature that was new to Firefox 3, this allows you to zoom an entire page to make it larger or smaller.  You may need to make a site larger to make it easier to read, or you might make it smaller to fit within the screen real estate of your smaller monitors (for examples, those people out there who may have netbooks).

There are several ways you can zoom into or out of the page you are on.

Keyboard:

(make the page bigger) Ctrl and the + Key

(make the page smaller) Ctrl and the – Key

Mouse:

(make the page bigger) Hold the Ctrl Key and Scroll Up

(make the page smaller) Hold the Ctrl Key and Scroll Down

Toolbar:

View > Zoom > Zoom In

View > Zoom > Zoom Out

One more zooming trick that Firefox has up its sleeve is the ability to only zoom in on text, leaving graphics their normal sizes.  To do that, go to View > Zoom and select “Zoom Text Only”.  To reset a page’s specific zoom level (large or small), go to View > Zoom > Reset or hit Ctrl and the 0 key.  Firefox will remember which pages you have larger too.  So for example, you could zoom into FirefoxFacts.com, but when you visit WebHostingShow.com, it would still be at its normal size.  Your preferences are remembered for each site you visit.

Strip Everything but the Content with TidyRead

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Want to remove all the clutter from your favorite site to read, and get right to the text?  TidyRead, an extension for Firefox, removes all the extra stuff from a web page or article that can make reading on the Web difficult at times.

This browser add-on does a simple, yet effective, job of stripping away the extra content from news or blog article pages, leaving you with nicely formatted text to enjoy.  Since the new version is overlaid on top of the old version, switch between the two is very easy.  You also have the options to customize it to suit your own reading style too (white on black, black on white, white on green, ect).

Well worth trying out, if you find some of the content on the Web a little hard on your eyes.  You can pick up TidyRead on the Firefox Add-ons web site.

Turn Xmarks Back into Foxmarks

Xmarks Options While some do not enjoy the most recent enhancements to the classic Foxmarks Firefox add-on, there is a way you can get the new Xmarks to act a ‘bit more like it’s predecessor.

Turn off Smarter Search in Xmarks

The first thing you want to do is go to Tools > Add-ons and then click the options button for Xmarks.  Now, under the “Discovery” Tab you can disable Smarter Search.  In your Google search results, Xmarks will highlight the top three sites based on bookmarking history.  Put your mouse over the special icon to the side of the search results to learn more information such as reviews, and rankings.  If you don’t like it, turn it off.

Turn off Site Info in Xmarks

Next, in that same options window, you can also disable the Site Info, which will turn off the feature in Xmarks that gives you more information about a web site in the location bar.  Once your done disabling things, hit the “OK” button at the bottom of the window.

There you have it, now the new features in Xmarks that some people may not like are turned off, and Xmarks starts to act a lot more like Foxmarks did. 

Beginner Guide to Stylish

Stylish Add-on in Status Bar Have you ever looked at a web page and thought to yourself, “it would look better if I could only move this over there, or change the color of that or..” well, there are a lot of things you could change about a lot of the Web’s most popular web sites.  One tool for Firefox lets you customize the look and feel of Firefox and the Web, Stylish.

Using what is called “user styles” the Stylish add-on for Firefox can empower your browsing experience by letting you personalize or fix the features of Firefox or the Web in general that bug you the most.

How do I get started with Stylish?

Once installed, all you have to do is right-click the status bar icon, select “Write Style” and then choose if you want to write a style for the URL you are on right now, or create an empty style not related to any web site, for now at least.  You can also tag your style, giving it a few descriptive words. 

Write a New Style in Stylish!

Now how do you know what to put into the window, to customize Firefox (as I have done in the screenshot above) or your favorite web site?  I suggest checking out userstyles.org. 

Where can I find and learn to create user styles?

Not only is userstyles.org a great repository of scripts others have written that you can use, it is also a place where you can view the code they used, so you can try it out when you create your own user style.

Here are a few resources to get you started finding the user style that you need or want to use:

There is also a user styles blog and set of forums for you to follow too.  If I had a top 10 list of my favorite Firefox add-ons, Stylish would be in the top 5, at least.  Anything that helps the users of Firefox customize the Web or Firefox to meet their needs better is a winner in my book.

Easy Access to Hidden Firefox Settings

gui:config in actionIf you need to edit some of the advanced preferences of Firefox, and you need a neater way to get that done, gui:config is right for you. 

This extension of Firefox will give you a lot of the “about:config” preferences, in an easy to navigate menu box.  It displays the options, included in the current version, using checkboxes, dropdown lists and textboxes.

If you want to check out all the advanced settings that gui:config makes available to you, Lifehacker has done a nice gallery of each tab you see in the screenshot above.

I would consider this extension well worth trying out, at least.  The add-on, gui:config is a must have for anybody who likes to tweak and customize their browsing experience.  You can find out more about the development at:  http://guiconfig.freedig.org/.

Firefox’s Navigation Bar Keyboard Combo Cheat Sheet (for Macs)

giantapple Doing my part to share the knowledge around, a lot of people have requested that I do more to post alternative operating system keyboard combinations here.

So, for those of you who live the Apple lifestyle, here is the way you can navigate around the navigation bar without having to ever lay your fingers on your one button mouse.  If you know of any more (because as you can see, I am not a big Apple user) please share in the comments.  Would love to build up a database of more keyboard shortcuts for everybody to use.

Navigation Bar Keyboard Shortcuts

Choose Your OS: Windows | Linux | Mac OS

back Cmd + [ or Cmd + Left Arrow or Delete = Go Back a Page

forward Cmd + ] or Cmd + Right Arrow or Shift + Delete = Go Forward a Page

home Opt + Home = Go to your Homepage

reload F5 or Cmd + R = Reload a Page

stop Cmd + . or Esc = Stop a Page from Loading

print Cmd + P = Bring up the Print Options

downloads Cmd + J = Launch the Download Window

history Cmd + Shift + H = Open Your History in the Sidebar

bookmarks Cmd + B = Open Your Bookmarks in the Sidebar

new-tab Cmd + T = New Tab

new-window Cmd + N = New Browser Window

cut Cmd + X = Cut

copy Cmd + C = Copy

paste Cmd + V = Paste

For the Apple fans out there, here are a few more bonus keyboard combinations, that should help assist you in getting your browsing done a little faster.

  • Cmd + F = Find
  • Cmd + Home = Go to the Top of a Web Page
  • Cmd + End = Go to the Bottom of a Web Page
  • Cmd + Shift + T = Reopen the Last Closed Tab

Know of anymore Firefox keyboard shortcuts that would be useful for your fellow Apple fans to know?  Drop in a comment and share!