Sunday, 14 September 2008

5 Useful Tips to Customise Firefox 3

Firefox is the most popular application for viewing web pages on Linux, being the browser of choice for over 70% of the Linux users. In this article I will explain 5 of the most useful and used tips in Firefox, together with screenshots where I considered necessary. Most of them are related with the about:config variables, but I also provided a graphical way of doing things where it was possible.

1. Disable the finished downloads popup notification

Firefox 3.x comes by default with the notification for finished downloads enabled by default, displayed in the lower-right corner when all downloads are complete. In order to disable this notification, type about:config in the address bar, click on the I'll be careful, I promise! button in the window appearing and find the variable below using the Filter text box:

Double-click on it to switch its value to false. This should do it.

Changing value for the variable

2. View images at normal size instead of zoomed out to fit the window
Images which are displayed in a whole tab will be resized to fit the window if they are larger than it. In order to have them being displayed by default at normal size, go to about:config in the address bar and search for this variable:


And change its value from true to false.

3. Change background colour
This will change the default background colour for web pages which don't explicitly set their colours. The default in hex code is #FFFFF (white).

There are two ways of doing this. The first one is via the Preferences dialogue, so go to Edit -> Preferences -> Content -> Colors... and change the background colour with the one you want.

Change text, link and background colours from here

The second way is via the about:config window, where you should find this variable:


Notice that the value is in hex, so you will first need to find the hex value for your colour. Examples:

#000000 - black
#FFFFF - white (which is the default)
#000080 - navy
#800080 - purple

I used the colour picker in KDE for seeing the values, so usually you'll be able to use any image editor for getting the value of a certain colour.

4. Enable scrolling using the third mouse button
Firefox offers the possibility to scroll web pages by clicking the third mouse button (the wheel button or right + left click the same time, depending on whether xorg.conf is configured to emulate third mouse button). Web pages can be scrolled both horizontally and vertically.

To enable this feature, go to Edit -> Preferences -> Advanced and tick the option Use autoscrolling.

Tick the option Use autoscrolling to enable scrolling using the third mouse button

Alternately, you can find the variable general.autoScroll in about:config and switch its value to true.

5. Create search shortcuts
This is a powerful feature which allows you to search directly from the address bar on a search engine of choice. Alternately you can use the Search Engines feature by pressing CTRL+K, but it will only search on the currently selected engine (default is Google).

For example, to create a search shortcut for Wikipedia, open a new tab (CTRL+T) and go to Right click on the search field and select Add a Keyword for this Search..., then enter the desired name and shortcut in the window that appears. For example I use here Wikipedia for the name and wp as the shorcut. After you're finished click the Add button.

Right click on the search box and select Add a Keyword for this Search...

Enter the name of the shortcut and the keyword you want to use
To use it, type in the address bar wp followed by space and the term you want to search for, in example Pink Floyd:

wp pink floyd

And Firefox will automatically search for Pink Floyd on Wikipedia. The shortcut is kept as a bookmark.

Updated: Sep 15, 2008


Anonymous said...

I really like the last tip. I am always looking for ways to reduce the amount of clicking that I must do with my applications.

Anonymous said...

Tip #1 is what ive been needing.. I have 8 virtual desktops (yes i need them all) and its a PAIN to wait for the download finished popup to go away.. Thanks!!

Dan Craciun said...

I'm glad I could help, these are the features I usually enable/disable first after a fresh install.

Jim said...

re #2: merely clicking on a zoomed out image will result in it being displayed normal size. Clicking on it again results in it being zoomed out again. Given this, don't see the need to force the image to always be displayed normal size, but maybe that's just me.

Dan Craciun said...

I guess it depends on a person's needs. I use it always on normal size because sometimes I have to view several images from a web image gallery for example and always need to perform another click to see it in full size. But then again, it's a matter of preferences.

bigjoe said...

For those that are real geeks out there i HIGHLY recommend the vimperator plugin.