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Firefox 1.0 Tutorial, Part Two of Three

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by , December 10th, 2004 at 06:38 AM (631 Views)

Firefox 1.0 Tutorial
Part Two

Making Firefox your default browser.

Your (system's) default browser is the programme that gets started every time when you click an URL. E.g. in an e-mail program, or on some help page in some other program, or on a link someone sent to you over YAIM.
To set FF as your default browser, go to: Tools -> Options -> General. You should get a window like this:

Click on "check now" and if FF isn't your default browser yet, it will ask you whether you want to set it as your default browser. Click yes, and you may also want to tick that it should check this every time it starts.
If you ever start the Internet Explorer again, it might want to be the default browser again. If it does, simply click no, and after that go to Tools -> Internet Options -> Programs, and untick that IE should check if it is default (standard) browser.

Installing Plugins

Browser plugins add extra functionality to your browser. Some of the most used are Flash and Java applets. You may have installed them for your old browser already, but almost every one of those plugins has a special Microsoft Version, because MS only allows ActiveX plugins, which aren't supported by FF because of their security flaws (plus they are windows only).
Usually, when you stumble upon a site which uses a plugin that isn't installed for FF yet, it will look like this (JUB partly uses flash, you see a fresh installed FF 1.0 visiting JUB):

Note the areas with the red circle. Instead of the content that the plugin would display, FF shows you a puzzle piece. If you click on it, FF starts to search for the appropriate plugin. Additionally, FF shows you a small bar at the top of the window, also informing you that you need to install one or more plugins to see everything on that website. If you click the button, FF will start to search for the missing plugins, too. The only difference between clicking on the puzzle icon, or on that button is that the button might install more than one plugin if the website uses more than one.
The following pics show the process of installing the Flash plugin, needed for viewing certain content on JUB.

now, when the plugin is installed, you see the animation, where the puzzle piece used to be:

Usually this is the best way to install the plugins. However, sometimes a plugin can't be installed automatically. Here are a few URLs where you can download common plugins if there is no automatic installation:

Macromedia Flash Player
Apple QuickTime
Real Player (If you don’t like the Realplayer, try Real Alternative)
Windows Media Player
Adobe Acrobat Reader
Sun Java Plugin

Download Manager

Firefox features an integrated (but simple) Download Manager.
When you start to download larger files, the Download Manager window will pop up and show you the progress. You can also pause and resume downloads, or cancel a download. After a successful download, the file stays in the download-manager-window and you can directly access ("open") it.

You can use the big "clean up" button to remove all finished download from the list.
Go to Tools -> Options -> Downloads to change the behaviour of the Download Manager.

If you want to, you can also change the behaviour of keeping the downloads history. Go to Tools -> Options -> Privacy and click on the little plus sign in front of "Download Manager History". If you don't want to leave any traces :twisted: choose "upon successful download".
There are some nice tweaks for the Download Manager, to make it a bit more comfortable. Read more about it in the next tutorial :)

Tabbed Browsing!

Almost every modern browser (except IE of course :roll: ) features Tabbed Browsing It is a user-friendly way to “browse” the Internet, and opening up links that you find, without interrupting the page that you were already reading and found the link on. Just try it out, you will love it!
Let me show you a short example:

You start your "browsing session" by checking your JUB webmail account.
You see the " home" button/link in the top left corner and think "oh sure, I wanted to visit JUB later, too". so you now can either
  • middle click (if you have a 3 button mouse) that link
  • hold ctrl and left click that link
  • rightclick the link, and select "open link in new tab"

all three options will result in the same: gets loaded in a new tab.

You'll see something a new tab-bar appearing at the top of the window. That signals to you that there is more than one tab in your browser.

Now you have two websites open, in just one browser window. While you are still reading your email, JUB is already loading in the background. I’d bet that the guys on dial up will love that.:) . To switch to JUB, just click the second tab. And while reading the JUB forums, you can leave the JUB webmail-tab opened in the background. You can easily access it whenever you want, without needing to reload it. Also JUB webmail will continue to look for new webmail and update itself while in background. When you want to quickly check your mails again, just click the first tab again.

  • You can close a tab by clicking the little red cross at the right in the tab-bar, or pressing ctrl+w, or middle clicking it.
  • You can open a new, blank tab by pressing Ctrl+T or clicking File -> New Tab.
  • You can cycle through the tabs by pressing ctrl + tabulator.
  • You can quickly select one of the first 10 tabs by pressing ctr+ number (1 for the first tab, 0 for the 10th tab).
  • You can also open a bookmark in a new tab. Simply ctrl + click, or middle click in the bookmarks menu.

If you want to change the tab-browsing behaviour, go to Tools -> Options -> Advanced and scroll until you see "Tabbed Browsing" if necessary click on the little plus to expand the settings.

Eg. new tabs that you opened by clicking a bookmark, per default focus themselves directly. You can make them load in the background by unchecking "Select new tabs opened from bookmarks or history".
Another maybe interesting options is "Open links from other applications in ..". Don't you know that? You are reading an interesting article somewhere, or or you are just looking at some pics, and someone sends you a link over Instant Messenger, you click the link, and *zong* it loads in the browser window, and takes you away from that article/pics :grrr:.
But if you select “a new tab in the most recent window,” it will open in a new tab, and you can be looking at the first website and even explore it further while the article/pics are still in the other tab, and you can return to them later. Or just return to them directly, and let the link from your buddy load in the background, while you finish reading the article, looking at the pics, and read that website he or she sent you, later.

Bookmarks, tabs & your homepage

When speaking of a homepage in that context, the website with that your browser starts is meant. It's the first website, that the browser automatically opens when you start it, and usually it comes up if you click the little "home"/house symbol, too. Most people use their favourite website for it, other people (like me) use a search engine.
With tabs, you can add a 3rd possibility. I visit almost the same 5 pages everytime when i go online. Plus many other sites, but less regularly. Like most people I bookmarked the webpages that I visit frequently.
And as with other browsers, you can sort your bookmarks into folders. Of course, you can do so in FF, too. And of course, with FF you can do more than just that :).

Let's have a look at an example:

I have two tabs open here: JUB, and JUB webmail.

Since both belong to one logical group, i want to bookmark them together, in one folder.

So i just select Bookmarks -> Bookmark this page, and the following message box appears:

I tick "Bookmark all tabs in a folder", and FF automatically creates a new Bookmarks Folder, and puts all webpages that i have opened in the tabs as a single bookmark in it.

You can have a look at the Bookmarks Manager to see it. Start it with Bookmarks -> Manage Bookmarks

Both the webmail, and the JUB page are together in one folder.
That‘s just one way to do it, you can also directly use the Bookmarks Manage to create folders, and move your Bookmarks around, delete them or change them.

So, now we have those JUB bookmarks in one folder. On the one hand, that’s nice and tidy, on the other you can easily open all Bookmarks in one folder at the same time, by using tabs.
FF automatically adds at the end of each folder the Option "open in tabs".

After clicking that menu-entry, I will have jub in one tab, and jub webmail in another tab again - just like when I saved them.

I can even use a Bookmarks folder as homepage! Go to "Tools -> Options -> General"

instead of typing in a homepage, select "Use Bookmark". You'll see all your bookmarks and bookmarks folders. Now mark a folder, not a single bookmark, and click OK.

You'll get a screen similar to that one:

Every time when you start your browser, or click the "home" button now, Firefox will open all those webpages in tabs. If you always visit the same websites, you don't need a single click now. Just start your browser, and all are loaded already. When you're done with one, you can close the tab and immediately continue with the next :)

Note that the websites don't need to be bookmarked to become your homepage and/or loaded in tabs. You can simply type in multiple URLs in the Location field, too. Just separate the URLs by a pipe (the | sign).

Bookmark keywords

Another nifty feature are the Bookmark keywords. That means, that you can add keywords to your bookmarks, for easier access. That‘s especially useful for people who more like to type than using a mouse, and for people who might have problems dealing with a mouse.
To give one of your bookmarks a keyword, navigate to the desired Bookmark in the Bookmarks-Menu, rightclick the Bookmark, and choose "properties". You'll get a screen like that:

in the "keyword" field, enter your desired keyword, best if it's a short one. When you're done, click OK.

If you want to access this Bookmark now, go into the Location/Address bar, and type in your keyword, press Enter - et voilà - FF loads your bookmark. You can see as an alias for the complete URL.

Hint: you can directly access the Location/Address bar without using the mouse, by pressing F6.

Bookmark Toolbar

When you bookmark a website that you access quite often, you might want to add it to your "Bookmark Toolbar". To do so, you simply go to the website that you want to bookmark, and select "Bookmark -> Bookmark this page" (or press ctrl+d).

In the dialogue window that pops up now, search for the "Bookmarks Toolbar Folder" in the "Create in" field.

Hint: If you have very many folders, it can be useful to click the little arrow, to see all your folders in a tree-overview.

After clicking "OK", the new Bookmark will appear, right below the back and forward arrows, in the toolbar. You can quickly access the bookmarked website by just clicking on it. It's as if you added an extra button just for that website :)

the integrated Popup-Blocker

We all know those annoying, very annoying ads that seem to pop up from everywhere, disrupting you while you're typing, hopping around when you want to close them, and once you close one, three new ones take their place ;). Well, Firefox puts an end to this. It features an integrated popup blocker, which cleverly prevents websites opening certain popups. For example popups that open themselves when you enter a website, or leave it are suppressed. But when you click a link that will open up in a popup window, FF allows that because FF knows that if you clicked the link, you must’ve wanted the popup window to open.

Whenever Firefox prevents a website from opening a popup, it will tell you. And it looks like this:

At the top of the window, Firefox tells you that it blocked a popup, and in the lower right corner of the status bar a special icon indicates the same (i marked it with a transparent red circle).
When you click that bar at the top, you can select between some options.
  • allow popups
    allow that webpage to open any kind of popup
  • edit popup blocker options
    you can configure the popup blocker
  • don't show this message when popups are blocked
    disable that horizontal bar, however the icon in the lower right status bar still will be displayed. so if that bar bugs you, you can disable it.
  • show the popup that was blocked
    in case that you want to know that popup was about to open

If you eg. accidentally allowed a website to open popup windows, you can also access the popup blocker configuration manually/directly, by going to: Tools -> Options -> Web features and clicking on "allowed sites" in the line with "Block popup windows".

Personalizing the Toolbars

Out of the box, Firefox’s default toolbar set is very tidy, with only the really necessary icons. However, many people prefer clicking a toolbar icon, than clicking in some menus, and miss a button for printing a website, or accessing the history, and and .. of course you can have those buttons if you want to!

Go to View -> Toolbars -> customize.

a new area appears at your screen, and it shows the available additional toolbar icons. You can just click them, and drag them with you mouse over to the place in the toolbar where you want them to be. And you can do various other stuff, like eg. adding additional toolbars, making the icons smaller, or adding text to the icons, adding separators between icons, and and... You can also remove icons that you usually don't need.

Changing font-size

Some people, especially older people, and people with eye-problems prefer to enlarge the nowadays trendy small fonts on websites. That‘s really easy in Firefox. If your mouse has a wheel, simply press ctrl, and scroll your mousewheel to zoom in or out. If you don't have a mousewheel, you also can press ctrl and + or ctrl and -. Additionally you can do the same thing by clicking "view -> text size -> increase/decrease". Recently someone told me that FF does a better job here than a certain other browser, but i honestly don't know, since i don't really use that feature, but during my JUB time, I have often heard from other users who prefer to enlarge the fonts, so I have included this here. Just a screenshot about how big you can get the fonts :)

Searching .. stuff etc

Searching words in websites

FF provides the so called "find as you type" technology.
Just try it out: either press ctrl+f, or click on Edit -> Find in this page to start a search. A new bar will come up at the bottom of the window.

Start typing the word for that you are searching, FF immediately will jump to it once it finds it, and mark it. If you misstype, just hit backspace and correct yourself, it won't interrupt the searching. If the word occurs more then one time in the document, click "find next" to jump to the next match.
You can also highlight all words that match your search query. If you tick that "case sensitive" box, Firefox will also care whether you wrote a capital letter or not.

Searching the web

FF comes with many ways to search the web. Of course you can just go to to google and let it search for you as usual, but you can also try out one of those possiblities:

If you stumble over a word that you don't know, and search for more information, right-click it, ..

.. and select "search web for .. ". This will open a new tab, with the results of that search.

Probably, you also already noticed the search bar:

you can quickly access it by pressing ctrl+k and enter any search query in it, and it will be submitted to the selected search engine. Per default there are already some search-engines installed, you can pick one by clicking on the icon with the little arrow that points downwards. If you use a search-engine that isn't listed here, there are many more available at the mozilla websites. Simply click "Add engines" and you'll find some more engines, plus a link to a lot of other engines engines:
including but not limited to: imdb, urbandictionary, various translation engines like (LEO for german/english), and wikipedias in different languages.


Firefox is almost completely themeable/skinable. That means that you can change your browser's appearance, change the colors, change the icons etc. I kinda like the default theme, but if you don't you can change. Oh the freedom of choice :)
To use a different theme, go to the Theme Manager, by clicking at Tools -> Themes

here are already some themes installed, but on a fresh installation of FF, you will only have the default theme. Click on "Get more themes" to open a website that lists various new themes for your FF to choose from. Choose one, and click "Install now". The theme manager will popup, and show a progress bar. When it's finished, select the theme and click "use theme". Now you will have to restart Firefox, to see your browser in it's new "cloth" :)

As one example, i selected the "Noia extreme" theme here, as we lately discovered in the JUB forums, it seems to be the semi-official gay theme ;)

this theme even changes the appearance of the right-click (context menu). Neat (!)