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Firefox 1.0 Tutorial, Part One of Three

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by , December 7th, 2004 at 02:53 PM (523 Views)

Firefox 1.0 Tutorial
Part One

This is the first part of the Firefox (short: FF) Tutorial for the 1.0 version of FF. It covers the installation, first start and first steps plus some basic information about the FF Browser itself.

Its intended for absolute beginners. People who in general have a basic clue about how to install a program, and aren't worried about doing anything wrong, can just quickly skim through this first part to get the download-url and continue to read after the installation stuff.

When some single words appear as links, you can get additional information about the term by clicking that link, however you aren't required to know this stuff, it's just additional information for those who are interested.

About Firefox

What's Firefox? A Firefox is a very cute animal! And it's a browser. A browser is a program that you use for surfing the internet, just like the Microsoft Internet Explorer or eg Safari (by the way: FF is avaible for many OS including Mac OS X and Linux).

The FF project started back in 2002 when some developers of the Mozilla project decided that they want to do a split off the Mozilla Browser Suite which had become to feature-rich and had a too complicated code-base. Firefox first started under the name "Phoenix". But the BIOS company with the same name sued them, so in May 2003 it was named "Firebird". However, there was an open-source database called "Firebird", too. They didn't sue Mozilla, but because of high public demand, the browser was renamed again, and got its final name: "Firefox" - which is now a registered Trademark, so it can't be taken away, again ;).

So why should i use Firefox? I already have a browser!

Because it's better. (of course this is a purely subjective view :) )
Yes you probably have another browser already. But why do you use it? Most certainly just because it came already preinstalled on your computer. Only few people actively selected or choose their browser. They just take what they get served. Most people still use the Internet Explorer. Many donít even see the problem with Internet Explorer even after they have to remove some Spyware or Malware repeatedly - you get most of those problems because of IE. IE is quiet old (remember when the last feature upgrade came out? It was August 2001 .. ), the only thing that they offer every now and then are security upgrades, and even those take months before they get them to you! And so there are many vulnerabilities for nasty people to infect you with worms, spy and adware, change your homepage and annoy you with popup windows.
Furthermore, the IE doesn't stick to many webstandards and annoys webdesigners with it ;)
To see some demonstrations of this stuff you can go here:

You'll see almost nothing like that with FF (to be exact, i started with Phoenix and later Firebird, and now I use FF and I have never had a problem like that).
Many people don't even want to try out FF because they worry that it might be "too complicated" or that they can "break something" but none of this is true or likely to happen. I guess people in general have just some irrational fear of something new or different. Besides the arguments already listed above, FF has many more user-friendly and useful features that enhance your browsing experience, plus it is very customizable to make it suite your special needs.

I will cover the extra features and some nice tips and tricks in a later chapter of this tutorial. For now we just want to install FF. As i said before, even if you don't have any clue you have nothing to be afraid of. This tutorial will be really step by step and with pictures for every step. Don't worry, your older browser will still work after it. So if you dont like FF (which is uncertain ;) ) you can always still use your old browser. But take some time to play around with FF, and if you basically enjoy it, check back here for more advanced information and tutorials. And if there is just a single thing that you don't like in particular or you miss something, chances are good that you might be able to tweak or add exactly that thing. If it isn't covered here, feel free to ask in a PM or by commenting here.
But now get the party started, let's get Firefox!

Downloading and installing Firefox!

Hint: You can enlarge many of the following pics by clicking on them.

Downloading FF is so easy, it almost can't be more easy :)
Go to and at the right side of the screen there is a download-link labeled "Free Download" below the caption the text tell you which version was automagically selected for you. It should tell you your operating system and Language (if available).

I'll cover the english language version in this tutorial, but besides the language of the user interface there is no difference in the different language versions. However, if you want a different version than the one automagically selected, click on "Other Systems and Languages". If you're unsure what to do, just click on the "Free Download" caption, that's the easiest and safest way.

Your browser will ask you where to save the Setup-file, and you should choose a folder on your harddrive that you can remember, eg your Desktop. The download is fairly small, just about 5 megabyte, so wait until it's finished and then search the file in the folder where you saved it.

Doubleclick the file's icon to start the Setup program. It first takes a small amount of time to decompress the program data, after that the first install screen will be shown.

As advised, close all other windows programs still running. You can leave your browser open to display this tutorial. When you're ready to continue, click the next button (it's labeled "weiter" in my screenshots, because they are from a german Windows version).

Now you see the license agreement. Firefox is licensed under the GPL, basically the text says just that you can't sue Mozilla or the Firefox developers if anything bad happens, and that you are allowed to copy, modify and share Firefox as much as you want, as long as you don't demand any money for it and ship the sourcecode, too. Select "I ACCEPT .." and click next to continue.

You are asked whether you want to use the Standard or Custom installation. The more experienced users, and those who are web-developers or already have an old version of Firefox installed, might want to select "Custom", but for everybody else, i recommend to select "Standard" which is also the default.
Note for users of older Firefox versions: if you want to upgrade, select custom, and choose your old FF directory as install directory.
Click next to continue.

The setup shows you where it wants to install FF, and you can continue and start the copy process by clicking next.

The FF files are being installed on your machine.

Setup is done with copying files, and you're almost ready to start FF. It suggests you to use a special Start/Homepage. That page is basically google, with some nice extra stuff for Firefox users, like hints, tips and tricks etc. If you dont want to use this site, uncheck the box. You still can change your homepage later on, so it's not really important what you choose here. I suggest you leave the "Launch Firefox" box checked, so that you can directly start Firefox and check it out when the installation is finished.

Getting started.

Either you selected to Launch FF directly, or you can start FF now over the Start Button -> Programs -> Mozilla Firefox -> Mozilla Firefox.

During first start, FF eventually will ask you whether you want to make it your default (primary) Browser.

You can decide if you want that or not, but if you are still unsure about FF, better say No, and uncheck the box about always performing this check. If you change your mind later, you can still set FF as your default browser. And i guess you will do that :D

After that dialogue, FF eventually will come up with an Import dialogue automatically, if it does not, select "File -> Import" from the menu manually.

The import dialogue allows you to convert your old browser's bookmarks, history and cookies, so that you can use them in FF, too!

At the first screen, select the browser from which you want to import those settings, and click next.

At the 2nd screen, select what you want FF to import. Uncheck what you don't want or leave it all checked, and click next.

Firefox then tells you what it imported and if it encountered any problems (unlikely). Click finish.

Now FF presents itself in all his glory. Here with the special Firefox Google start page.

You did it. FF was successfully installed on your system, play around with FF, surf to some of you favourite websites. It's not too different from your old browser. Try everything out, you can click around and play around - you can't really break anything.

Different terms, and basic tweaking of Firefox.

Some IE terms/settings and the equivalent Firefox term/setting, and where to find/adjust the settings.

Firefox and Internet Explorer Terminology Differences

Internet Explorer <-> Firefox
Internet Options <-> Options (Tools -> Options)
Temporary Internet Files <-> Cache (Tools -> Options -> Privacy)
Favorites <-> Bookmarks
Refresh <-> Reload
Links Bar <-> Bookmarks Toolbar (Bookmarks -> Manage Bookmarks, select the "Bookmarks Toolbar" Folder)
Explorer Bar <-> Sidebar (View -> Sidebar)
Copy Shortcut <-> Copy Link Location
Save Target As <-> Save Link As

How to:
  • change your homepage: Tools -> Options -> General
  • Use a proxy Server: Tools -> Options -> General -> Connection
  • clear you cache/history/cookies: Tools -> Options -> Privacy. You can clear all listed there at once by clicking clear all. No more traces of visited sites in dubious files etc :)
  • Enable saving of forms data: Tools -> Options -> Privacy -> Saved Form Information
  • Allow certain sites to use Popup windows: Tools -> Options -> Web Features, click "Allowed Sites" next to "Block popup windows". Whenever a site tries to open a Popup window, you get a notification for it, too. You can also allow sites to open the popup window there.

This should solve most of the first "problems" you might encounter during your first use of FF, and show you the basic settings. This is the end of the first tutorial, see the next tutorial for mastering Firefox and using all the new features and little enhancement that make it so different from your old browser, learn all about tabbed browsing, extensions, themes and many little tricks that make browsing more comfortable.