TechBite: 7 Handy Firefox Add-ons & Tweaks

By Steve Bass

Make Firefox Even Better
I know many of you still stubbornly use Internet Explorer (hello, Carl). I used to, as well. But Firefox, with all its lovely add-ons and tweaks, is just more fun to use.

Let’s start with a something you might not know about: Firefox’s hidden visual tab switching tweak. Right now, you can use Ctrl-Tab to cycle through Firefox’s tabs. But if you’re using Firefox 3.6, the current revision, this tweak will give you a visual look at the tabs, just like using Alt-Tab in Windows.

Firefox has a hidden feature: Visual tab switching

Turning on the feature takes two steps:
1. Go to Firefox’s address bar, type about:config, and hit Enter. (Didn’t know about this, eh?)

2. Type browser.ctrlTab.previews into the Filter field. When it appears, double-click it. (The value will change to true.)  

Five Handy Firefox Add-ons
Here five add-ons I’ve recently used; they’re easy to install and don’t take much time to figure out how to use. Pay attention to the version of Firefox you have installed (Help, About Mozilla Firefox) to make sure the add-on’s compatible with it.

  • Tired of squinting at sites with tiny fonts or weird background colors?  Experiment with NoSquint to override a site’s font and image sizes as well as change its foreground and background colors. If you like the results, tell NoSquint to remember the settings for your return visit to the specific site.
  • I’ve experimented with SwiftTabs for a few weeks. It lets you use the F-keys to go to the next or previous open tab. It’s a keeper — and especially useful for those of us with Function keys along the side the keyboard. (Careful, the site has a name sure to offend.) [Hmm. I’m not sure I’d trust software clearly written by a Neanderthal. -ksk] [Kim: The add-on works perfectly despite the guy’s heritage.–SB]
  • I like the idea behind Fox Splitter, an add-on that rearranges tabs as separate windows. The problem is I had trouble adjusting to splitting off tabs and keeping track of what went where. You might like it, and it’s easy enough to install and uninstall, so give it a try.  

Rearrange Firefox’s windows with Fox Splitter.

  • Not all of Firefox’s icons are easy to recognize; Menu Icons Plus gives me a nicer array of choices. I’m using it with XP, but Vista and Win7 may give you problems.
  • You know about Firefox’s built-in Find features. Find All highlights every occurrence of the word, shows it in a separate window, and lets you click to go to the word. (See the screens below for instructions.) Très cool, no?

Start typing and Firefox starts a search.

Click Ctrl-F to expand Firefox’s Find feature.

Now use Find All: It does tons more than
Firefox’s default Find feature.

Now for a couple add-ons only for those of you with a technical itch that needs to be scratched.

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8 thoughts on “TechBite: 7 Handy Firefox Add-ons & Tweaks”

  1. Wednesday, June 23, 2010 = Naw, y’all a bunch of eggheads! If you’d learn how to work FF in the 1st place, none of you would have the problems… Like IE 7 & 8, you have to read the manuals 1st! it’s like buying a new vehicle – you gotta read the manual 1st, to know what you’re doing. If not, your vehicle won’t last very long either. Oh But, I guess you’d blame that on the manufacturer as well!!! Oh brother…

  2. In my version of FF (3.6.3)the Find window has a “Highlight all” option which takes care of the most useful part of the requirement. No add-on needed.

  3. I just switched to using Chrome, almost exclusively. I liked FF for a while, but once I realized what a resource hog it is, I had to switch to something different.

  4. I have reluctantly given up on Firefox. When I close it, it stays in memory and uses 50%+ of the CPU indefinitely. Also, some of the add-ons I use install toolbars. These toolbars do not show up and are not available for display when I right click the menu bar.
    I’ll stick with IE until Firefox gets its act together.

  5. Firefox & IE are both loosing ground to Google Chrome… and for good reason.

    Switch to Chrome, you’ll be glad you did.

  6. About the visual tab switching, I thought it wasn’t working, but then I figured out you have to have at least 3 tabs open for it to work. With 2 tabs, it just switches between them… smart I guess.

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