Better Firefox Usage in 10 Minutes

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on November 04, 2010 in: Time Management Strategies, Tips in 10, Tools & Resources

In this article of Tips In Ten, I’m going to give you some ideas to use Firefox more effectively. For those who aren’t using Firefox, this Tips In Ten article won’t be relevant to you. But Firefox is hugely popular (among PC users, at least) so this issue will still be relevant to most of you. You should be able to apply the ideas here in about 10 minutes and you’ll find that they can save you hours of time later.

Get Firefox

So the very first thing you should do is get Firefox, it’s free, if you’re not using it, or upgrade to the latest version if you’re still running something older.

Tune Firefox

Do you really need all those big buttons at the top of your browser? Probably not. Maximize the space you have to view websites and minimize the amount of clicking around you need to do.

  • Hide the Bookmarks bar: Right click on any of the menu bars and you will have a short pop-up menu with checkmarks that says: “Menu bar”, “Navigation toolbar”, “Bookmarks toolbar”. Leave the Menu and Nav bars checked, and uncheck the Bookmarks toolbar. My thinking here is that you don’t need so many clicking options all the time. They can mentally overwhelm you. You might use those Bookmark buttons a few times a day or even less frequently so get them out of the way when you aren’t using them. When you do need them, right click to get the pop-up toolbar menu, check the Bookmarks toolbar option, do what you need to do with that toolbar, and uncheck it again when you’re done. Yes, it sounds involved but it will actually save you time by minimizing your bookmarks when you don’t need them. And, it keeps your browser nice and uncluttered.
  • Remove Nav Menu buttons: When you download Firefox, you end up with a ton of buttons in the Navigation toolbar that you rarely use. You can remove them easily. I only have 5: Back, Forward, Stop, Refresh, Home. That’s it. And I use the “small buttons” option.

Now let’s look at some add-on apps that I’ve found to be really helpful. You don’t have to use these exact add-ons if you find something else that will be more useful to you but I’m just sharing some of the ones that I really like. There is a big list of add-ons and you can search for groups of add-ons by type here. The add-ons you choose will depend on how you use the web. Since I use it primarily for business – and a specific kind of business – the add-ons I’m recommending have helped me.

TwitterBar

TwitterBar is an add-on that allows you to use Twitter right in your browser. It turns the address line of your browser (where you might type in http://heathervilla.com to go to my website) into a multipurpose tool. You can type your tweet into the line and send it to Twitter. Or, you can type in a search term into the bar and search http://search.twitter.com.

You’ll save time and tweet more often because you don’t have to open a separate page or app to access and use Twitter. (Sure, you might want to use Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to interact with others, but if you just want to tweet something quickly, this in-the-browser tool will help).

SEO Tools

SEO for Firefox is an add-on that gives you a whole bunch of tools to investigate SEO across the web and improve your own SEO. It installs a toggle switch at the bottom of your browser that you can turn on before searching to learn more about the PageRank, age, backlinks (and so much more!) of websites in a search result. You also get a helpful, free SEO ebook at the same time. This tool will give you a lot of insight into how websites fare when it comes to search engine optimization, enabling you to do some really profound research as you develop the SEO on your own website.

You’ll save time and money with this do-it-yourself SEO tool to help you understand and analyze search engine optimization. Even if you don’t use the entire tool, but just use it to check PageRanking of your site and your competitors’ sites, it will be extremely helpful.

Shareaholic

Delicious, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Bebo, Twitter, FriendFeed… the list goes on and on. When you have something you want to share, it can be time consuming to go to each place to share it. That’s where Shareaholic comes in. Shareaholic lets you share content across more than 100 services. It’s easy to use – just add it to Firefox, add the passwords to the Shareholic interface, and you’re ready to start sharing. Share something by clicking the Shareholic icon in your address line. And, Shareaholic also gives you access to trending topics on vari ous sites including Twitter.

You’ll save time by not having to repost the same thing here, there, and everywhere, or by excluding some of your followers because you only posted something to Twitter and Delicious but not to FriendFeed and Bebo.

FireFTP

There are other FTP apps out there and I do like and use others from time to time, but I’ve found that FireFTP is a nice, easy-to-use app that you might like, too.  It works like any other FTP program. You have your desktop on one side and your web host on the other. It’s all in clear tree structures. And you just move stuff back and forth. No surprises. No bells and whistles. Just a nice, clean simple FTP app.

You’ll save time by not needing any other FTP app. Pretty much everything you need FTP for can be handled via FireFTP.

Firebug

Firebug is a surprisingly handy piece of software that seems to be marketed primarily to web designers and developers but is really a useful tool for many people. Firebug toggles on by clicking the bug icon that will appear at the bottom of your browser when you’ve downloaded Firebug. Toggling Firebug on will open a window that gives you the code (html, CSS, scripts, etc.) that make up a particular web page. And there are other powerful features, too. The hover function is really helpful so you can click on a part of a web page and see just the code associated with that part of the page. You can also make changes to the code in the Firebug window and see how it will impact the look of the page. (The changes aren’t permanent; they just show you temporarily how it will look so you can test your site).

You’ll save time and fine tune your website with quick changes you can observe right away. Even if you’re not a web developer, this is a helpful tool to do some troubleshooting before you call up your favorite web developer to pay for help.

Delicious

I mentioned Shareaholic before as an easy way to save time by sharing. But I also have the Delicious add-on as well because it pops open a window and gives me access to my Delicious bookmarks. Since I like being able to access my Delicious bookmarks no matter what computer I’m on, I can use this one tool across all of the different computers I use to access the same set of bookmarks.

You’ll save time by keeping your bookmarks all in one place yet being able to access them across each system you use.

And there are more

There are other add-ons I like and use, although not nearly as much as the ones I’ve just listed, which get used nearly every day.

In case you’re curious, I also use (less frequently):

These are the ones I’ve found to be time-saving add-ons. There are many others that could be helpful to you, depending on what you do online and how often you do it. Check out the Firefox add-ons and think about what you can do to speed-up and fine-tune your online experience.

Heather Recommends:

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