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Speed Up Firefox 3.5 Start up Times on Windows

Speed up Start Times in Firefox 3.5 Does it seem that Firefox 3.5 is a little sluggish when it starts on your Windows-powered machine?

Due to some unknown reason, Firefox on Windows pulls certain file locations for security reasons.  In turn, having too many temporary, history or recent document files will slow down Firefox 3.5’s data generation process.  A bug has been filed about this, but in the mean time – the best thing you can do to help fix it is to do a little house cleaning.

The fix here is to browse through and clear both Internet Explorer’s history and cache and Firefox’s history and cache as much as you can.  You can find more help with this process at these resources:

I had not noticed this problem too much – then again, I have my Firefox temp files set to clear every time I close the browser and I hardly ever use Internet Explorer.  How about you?

UPDATE:

This problem was fixed in Firefox 3.5.1.  To check for updates, be sure to go to Help > “Check for Updates…” in Firefox.  Thanks to the Firefox development team for the speedy update!

Add a Recently Closed Tab Button to Firefox

Recently Closed Tab ButtonSure, keyboard shortcuts are handy to have – but sometimes a button is even better.  The Closed Tabs Button add-on for Firefox will give you an easy one button access to all of your recently closed tabs.  If you are tired of going to History > Recently Closed Tabs just to undo a closed tab, then this extension is for you!

Not only does this add-on give you a fancy new button, it also gives you a new keyboard shortcut to access the most recently closed tab (CTRL+SHIFT+Z). 

After installing the extension, to add it to your own browser interface you must add the button by going to View > Toolbars > Customize, then drag and drop the button anywhere on the toolbar.

The Closed Tab Button add-on for Firefox might be a little on the simple side, however when there is just a little problem to be fixed – nice to see an extension that gets the job done right without too much bloat.

Firefox Profile Files – What Do They Do?

Firefox Profile FilesWhen browsing through your Firefox profile folder, you might see a lot of odd files. Some might make sense, such as your searchplugins folder, however others might seem a little odd.

Here are some of the important files you might seen in your profile folder and what they are used for.

  • search.sqlite and the searchplugins folder – The first file, search.sqlite stores the order that your search engines (for the search box) are sorted. Inside of the searchplugins folder you can find all the extra search engines you have installed.
  • mimeTypes.rdf – your preferences with respect to what Firefox does when it comes across known file types.
  • formhistory.sqlite – this is where information that you have searched for or entered into forms on web sites (think autocomplete) is stored.
  • places.sqlite – this is the file that contains your bookmarks and previously visited web sites.
  • cert8.db – all your security certificate settings and any SSL certificates you have imported are stored here.
  • permissions.sqlite – the file here stores site specific preferences, such as if you allow it to install add-ons, show images, display popups or any special orders you have allowed for that domain.
  • key3.db and signons3.txt – these are the files that store your password information you have saved.
  • persdict.dat – this file will hold your words you have personally put into Firefox’s built in spellchecker.
  • cookies.sqlite – your web site cookies are stored here.

Now, I do know there are more files – however, these are the files that are most important for you to know about, just in case something bad might happen.  Hopefully, this additional documentation will come in handy when troubleshooting your own Firefox issues or problems.

How to Clear Private Data in Firefox

Clear Private DataWorried somebody is going to snoop around on what you are doing from within Firefox?  Have no fear!  Although private browsing hasn’t made its way to Firefox yet, you can still clear your private data in Firefox very easily.

What is Firefox Saving About Me?

Now the first question you may have is what type of content is saved by Firefox?

  • Browsing History: contains a log web locations you have previously visited.
  • Download History: keeps a list of files you’ve downloaded.
  • Saved Form and Search History: contains a list of phrases you have entered in text fields, such as web searches, and name and address fields.
  • Cache: stores temporary files, such as web pages and other online media, that you have downloaded from the Internet.
  • Cookies: stores files created by web sites, that store information on your computer, such as your preferences when visiting that site. (When a web site has a “remember this” check box, they are using a cookie.)
  • Offline Website Data: information web sites have stored on your computer for use without an internet connection.
  • Saved Passwords: contains a list of user names and passwords you have opted to have Firefox remember.
  • Authenticated Sessions: keeps you logged into secure web sites, you have already used the password manager to log in to.

Firefox makes it very simple to clear a few or all of these settings.  From the top of Firefox, in the menu bar – select Tools > Clear Private Data.  (You can also pull this up by using the keyboard combination Ctrl + Shift + Del )  Check mark the data you want to clear, then click on Clear Private Data Now, to clear the data; or click on Cancel, to close the Clear Private Data window, without clearing any private data.

How to Automate the Private Data Cleaning

I have my Firefox set to clear certain private data when I close Firefox.  To do this, go to Tools > Options and then click on the Privacy Tab.  From there, look at the settings listed under Private Data.  you have the option to:

  • Always clear my private data when I close Firefox
  • Ask me before clearing private data

Clicking on the “Settings” will allow you to choose what is cleared when you exit Firefox.

Google Cache Checker

Ever wanted to check to see if a page is cached by Google yet or not?

google-cache-checker

Now you could search Google for cache:yourdomain.com or you could use an extension to get this ability added to your status bar.  Google Cache Checker, currently an experimental add-on for Firefox, displays a checkmark icon if the current page is Google cached. If it is not, the extension displays a red X.

The result is immediately shown conveniently in the browser status bar.  Where would this be handy to have?  Well, let’s say your viewing a web site that is currently down.  By viewing the cache (if it exists) you could at least see what it looked like before it went down.  You can download the add-on from the Firefox Add-ons web site or get more information from the official web site.

For more status bar tweaks, be sure to check out 25 Tweaks for Your Firefox Status Bar and 25 More Tweaks for Your Firefox Status Bar.

Save Your Lost Tabs

save-that-lost-tab What was that tab you closed about three tabs back again? Could it have been the fourth tab back, before you got your coffee? If you find yourself using the Ctrl + Shift + T keyboard combination to bring up lost tabs a lot, there is a better way to get the job done.  The Undo Closed Tabs Button add-on for Firefox gives you a few ways to save your lost tabs.

This extension allows you to undo closed tabs via a toolbar and/or tab bar button or the right-click context menu. Also it comes with a much easier keyboard combination of its own to remember, Ctrl + Shift + Z.   You must add the toolbar button by going to View -> Toolbars -> Customize, then drag and drop the icon where you want it on the toolbar.

Save your lost tabs, and save yourself a lot of wear and tear on your Ctrl and Shift keys while you are at it.  Your keyboard will thank you!

Add Some Color to the Awesome Bar

Is the awesome bar a little bland for you?  Firefox 3’s address bar seems to be something people either really love or love to hate.  Now due to a little creativity and the Stylish extension you can color it up a little ‘bit to help usability.

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This changes up how you use the awesome bar.  Your tags will be light yellow, you bookmarks will be blue, and your history items will be light green.

Colorful, isn’t it?  If you like this you may also want to check out more work by the creator, -=Ben=-.

If you would like to include this tweak to your own Firefox 3 awesome bar, all you need to do is pick up the Stylish extension for Firefox and then install this scriptAwesome Bar Background Color Based on Type (WOW) *.

Weave 0.2 Ready to Sync You Up!

weave-logo

Along with a fresh design, Mozilla Labs has also release Weave Prototype 0.2.  What is Weave, you say?  It is Mozilla’s answer to the problem of keeping all your bookmarks, history, passwords and more in sync across multiple computers.

So what is new in this 0.2 version of Weave?

  • Intelligent scheduler for synchronization to improve performance.
  • Expanded set of supported browser settings and metadata, including:  Bookmarks, Browsing History, Cookies, Saved Passwords, Saved Form Data, and Tabs.
  • Support for retrying failed network operations.
  • New server format performs better when there are frequent changes (e.g., for history sync).
  • Significant reworking of the startup experience, including a new Setup Wizard that performs account creation in chrome and allows for customization of settings.
  • Improved error detection and handling.
  • Notification dialog added to the status bar for displaying error, status and asynchronous events with or without required actions, e.g. authentication errors, notification of shares, etc.

Might be worth mentioning that they are still saying this version is for testing purposes only, so if Firefox later on kicks you in the head, points its browsing finger and laughs while your down, you were warned.

Ready to test it out?  Then download Weave 0.2 here!

Here recently, I just switched from Google Browser Sync to Foxmarks.  Once Weave gets all the kinks out though, I’ll probably be switching again because I really like the idea of having everything accessible no matter which PC I might be at.  Check out the Weave 0.2 Release Notes for more information.

The Awesome Bar Excites Me!

I’ve been doing some additional reading this morning about Firefox’s address bar – which seems to be slowly converting over in the minds of the public to being renamed the awesome bar.

One of the features that makes the new address bar system really awesome is that it will match what your typing against the URLs, page titles and tags in your bookmarks and history – in turn giving you what you have been looking for.

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The best news is that in Firefox 3 Beta 5, they have cut down a lot in the CPU power that is used when searching via the bar of awesomeness.

If you want more insight into the awesome bar and it’s development, go check out Edward Lee’s web site. Now I haven’t really been a huge bookmarker in the past, but with Firefox’s new address bar and bookmarking system I might have to rethink the way I browse the Web.

Update: If you find yourself not so happy with the new awesome bar here is how you can get rid of it:

The easy way woudl be grab the Old Bar Addon for Firefox 3

The hard way would be to type about:config into the address bar, and type this into the filter box (or scroll down to look for it) browser.urlbar.maxRichResults . Set the value of that to be “0” and then restart Firefox.

Make Menus Stay Open!

It can become a nuisance when you want to click on multiple items in a menu inside of Firefox and right before you get to click that second or third link, the menu disappears and you have to go hunt it down again. If you want to make your menus stay open then you need to pick up the Stay-Open Menu add-on for Firefox.

stay-open-menus

With this addon you can lock your menus in place so you can go in and select multiple items before you are ready to close. Here are a few additional notes from the developer:

  • Middle-clicking each Bookmarked item in the Bookmarks Menu will open it in a tab, while leaving the menu open for further selections. (Left-click the desired menu to open it, find the items you wish to open, then middle-click each desired item to open it in a tab.) When you are done making selections, click somewhere outside the menu (or press ESC) to close the menu.
  • Also works in the same way with the Bookmarks Toolbar. This applies to the new ‘Smart Bookmarks’ as well, since by default it is a folder residing in the Bookmarks Toolbar.
  • Same functionality in History Menu (added in version 0.5).
  • The Bookmarks Sidebar stays open by default even without this extension, but I prefer the Bookmarks Menu because I like the way the folders automatically open when hovered.

You can pickup Stay-Open menu on the developer’s web site or if you have a login to Mozilla’s Add-on site you can pick it up there too.