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[ Introduction ]

Firefox is somewhat more than just a browser, its more like a miniature operating system WITHIN your OS... as such, it can be configured quite a bit. Here are my recommendations; again note that any version numbers are the ones I have installed, so if you see something newer, pick that up instead.

UPDATES:

  • The 0.x, 1.0.x, 1.5.0.x and 2.0.0.x series are obsolete; please upgrade NOW!
  • The most recent series is 3; download from Mozilla.com
  • The next Firefox series 3.5 (formerly 3.1) is in beta.
  • [ Extensions ]

    [ Add-ons ]

    [ about:config ]

    [ Security ]

    [ Endnotes ]



    [ Firefox extensions ]

    The extensions which I often install on other people's systems when I help setup Firefox are indicated by having the version number following the name; I've put them into
    a ZIP file (~1.3 MB :) for easy downloading.


    System - things that work in the background to make Firefox better (or at least prettier ;)

    Back/Forward Dropdown Remover does what it says; right-click the back and forward buttons for their history.
    Clone Window (0.2.8) Useful for such things as setting the default behavior for opening a new tab to have it display the homepage.
    Colorful Tabs (2.0.6) Make each tab a different color automagically! Never look upon boring drab grey tabs again: Before & After.
    CuteMenus - Crystal SVG Illustrates the menus; surprisingly useful. (replaces CuteMenus)
    Find Toolbar Tweaks turns the hateful "Quick Find" (e.g. if you use typeaheadfind) into the normal find, just like it was in FF 1.x and No Go Buttons allows you to remove the annoying Go buttons in FF 2 (you could easily in FF 1.x)
    Fission makes the background of the URL bar into a progress bar; probably best for those with slow connections.
    Go Up Quickly navigate up one directory.
    Google Browser Sync will magically clone the settings, bookmarks, etc. from one computer to another, even from Windows to Linux (perfect for migrating! :)
    Restart Firefox for quickly restarting Firefox, e.g. when installing/uninstalling extensions and themes.
    Nightly Tester Tools can be used to make otherwise incompatable extensions compatable with the latest Firefox versions, among other things...
    Scrollbar Anywhere Use the right-mouse button to scroll; excellent for 2-button mice.
    Show Image (0.4.2) allows you to right-click a 'broken image' and try to reload it without reloading the whole page.
    Stop-or-Reload Button (0.2.2) make more room on your toolbar by combining the stop and reload buttons.
    TargetAlert (0.8.9.8) displays small icons next to links, indicating what they point to (if they're not regular links to other pages)
    Tiny Menu (1.4.4) replaces the text menu ("File Edit View Go Bookmarks Tools Help") with a simple Menu button that drops down when clicked. This is exactly what I was thinking about in September 2005 to help reduce the amount of wasted space and so as you can imagine I'm very happy that its been made into an extension :)
    Update Notifier shows an icon when extensions or themes have updates; it can even apply them automatically!

    For those transitioning from IE to FF in Windows, there are some extensions you might find useful: with FirefoxView two clicks on a page you're viewing in IE will open it in FF, with IE View two clicks on a page you're viewing in FF will open it in IE, and with IE Tab you can use IE's rendering engine in any tab (a similar idea to Netscape 8).


    Annoyance Management - because some websites can make you want to rip out your hair

    AdBlock Plus (0.7.5.3) helps make surfing more enjoyable by blocking ads. For a very good set of filters, use Filterset.G; it can be automatically updated using Adblock Filterset.G Updater (0.3.1.2) which checks for new filtersets every 4-7 days, and installs them if available.
    Allow Right-Click (0.4) helps defeat anti-right click functions on certain webpages.
    Flashblock (1.5.4.1) prevents autoloading of flash files; one click starts them going (note: NoScript will cause Flashblock to stop working on "untrusted" sites, but NoScript can block those for you; I still use Flashblock to block flash on "trusted" sites)
    NoScript can disable JavaScript except for sites you choose to white-list as well as now doing lots of other neat stuff like Flash and Java blocking! See the security section for the settings I use.
    Permit Cookies will whitelist cookies from a given site (if the "C" in the status bar is green, cookies are protected). I would recommend going into the Firefox preferences and under the privacy tab changing the "Keep until" setting to "I close Firefox". Note that changes might not take effect until the next time you get a cookie from a given site. For some cookie fun, try Delicious Delicacies
    PDF Download gives you the option to view or save a PDF file instead of it autoloading; good for older computers.
    PhishTank SiteChecker (4.2.1) warns if phishing sites are detected.
    RefreshBlocker prevents automatic META refresh.
    Stop Autoplay stops background music from playing and can convert the IE-proprietary "bgsound" tag into the Firefox-friendly "embed" tag.


    Browsing - things that make web surfing easier or more enjoyable

    BugMeNot extremely useful for browsing news (and other) sites that normally make you 'register for free' when you don't want to.
    DictionarySearch (2.0.2) highlight a word and then look it up with just a couple clicks! [Settings] The settings I use:
    Text				URL
    
    Wikipedia Search for "$"	http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=$&go=Go&sourceid=Mozilla-search
    Wictionary Search for "$"	http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=$&go=Go&sourceid=Mozilla-search
    UrbanDictionary Search for "$"	http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=$&f=1
    Fetch Text URL (1.6.1) Sometimes people just write URLs as plain text; highlight them and open with just a couple clicks.
    MediaPlayerConnectivity allows you to view embedded media in an external player.
    SubmitToTab Lets you right-click a submnit button and have the results open elsewhere.


    Object Manipulation - for when you want to do more than just browse

    ColorZilla Determine the color of any pixel in Firefox.
    DownThemAll Rapidly save links or images from a page.
    DownloadHelper lets you save embedded media including flash video (FLV) files.
    Nuke Anything Enhanced temporarily removes objects from a webpage; useful for printing.
    Word Count Counts the words in a given selection.


    Mini-Programs - things that increase Firefox's abilities

    AIMfire An instant messenger for Firefox.
    Calculator A calculator for Firefox.
    cuneAform An HTML editor for Firefox.
    Chatzilla An IRC client for Firefox.
    fireFTP an FTP client for Firefox :)
    Gmail Space lets you use Gmail as private online file storage.
    Forecastfox (0.9.5.2) the weather in your neck of the woods... in Firefox :) The "Current Conditions" string I use: [dnam]: Sunrise [sunr], Sunset [suns]/nAs of [tm]: [tmp], [t], [hmid] Rel. Hum./nWinds from the [windt] at [winds], gusting to [windgust]
    Graphing Calculator Toolbar a graphing calculator
    Live IP Address displays your IP address as seen by computers not in your local network.
    Mozilla Calendar its a calendar app for Firefox! =D (note: versions are OS specific)
    Screen Grab makes an image of a full webpage.


    Fun & Games - All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy ;)

    Blockfall (only compatible with FF 1.5 or lower) Like Tetris, but with your choice of square, triangular or hexagonal bricks!
    Cards Many many card games for Firefox, including Solitaire ^_-
    Froggr a Frogger clone.
    Mines replaces the older Minesweeper extension
    Pacman or PagMan are Pacman clones.
    PingPong and PONG! Multiplayer are pretty much what they sound like ;)
    Snake a worm game.
    Xultris a Tetris clone.


    Extension Graveyard

    Firefox 1.5 makes some extensions unnecessary, e.g. miniT(drag+indicator) and Show Failed URL.
    The same is true for Firefox 2.0, e.g. Disable Targets for Download, SessionSaver (go History -> Recently Closed Tabs, or for the most recently closed tab, right-click on a tab and select "Undo Close Tab") and SpellBound.

    The Mozilla Addons site got a facelift in late-March 2007 and a bunch of extensions (generally the ones not kept up-to-date) went missing; then there are the extensions that I don't find all that interesting anymore, but you might...
    Download Manager Tweak Illustrates the download manager as well as adding options.
    Fasterfox Tweaks various network settings. (Note: its configuration settings are in Preferences)
    Ctrl Tab Preview lets you use ctrl-tab like alt-tab, but for tabs :) Tab Preview mouseover tabs to see thumbnails of their page. Tab Sidebar (missing!) open a sidebar with thumbnails of the pages in your tabs. Viamatic foXpose view all thumbnails as tabs. With the dropdown tab list in FF2, I find all these tab preview extensions unnecessary.
    Slim Extension List (not working in FF2 and likely won't be updated) tidies the extension manager by reducing the display size of entries. Handy if you use this many extensions ;)
    Grab And Drag lets you use the mouse to scroll; compare to Scrollbar Anywhere.
    Paste and Go adds a 'paste and go' option to the URL bar (only compatible with FF 1.5 or lower)
    Compact Menu and Compact Menu - Firebird have been superceded by by TinyMenu.
    AniDisable (homepage is missing!) Make animated gifs stop moving. (see also the about:confg section of this page)
    I used to use CookieCuller.
    BookmarksHome creates a small page out of your bookmarks for faster access (go to about:bookmarkshome)
    ErrorZilla replaces the default error page when a URL is not found; doesn't work if you use OpenDNS.
    Linkification Automatically converts plain text URLs into links. Contrast with 'Fetch Text URL'.
    SuperDragAndGo Drag a link or text URL and they'll open in a new tab!
    Nuke Anything replaced by Nuke Anything Enhanced.
    Linky Rapidly load the links or view images from a page.



    [ Other Firefox add-ons ]

    Firefox
    themes include replacements for the buttons; currently there are almost twenty dozen. After installing you need to restart the browser for a new theme to take effect. Of the more amusing ones I've come across, one attempts to emulate the look of Netscape 3 on Windows 3.1, while Pimpzilla "is probably the most tacky & overdone piece of GUI design out there, aimed solely for true internet-connaisseurs. It's inspired on the blaxploitation pimps of the seventies. If you fancy fur and lot's of bling, this is the theme for you." 8-) If you're using FF 1.5, the RestartFirefox extension comes in handy for testing themes. For FF 2.0 users who don't like the new default theme, the FF 1.5 theme is available.

    Firefox plugins (e.g. embedded media players, Adobe reader, etc.) are specific to the OS Firefox is running in; I have thus moved the information formerly in this section (for Windows) to the old apps page. For Ubuntu information, see its page.

    For Windows users, there are a couple nifty programs that you might want to install: MozBackup to backup your Firefox (and/or "Mozilla Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, Mozilla Suite and Netscape profiles") and Firefox Preloader ("a utility that is designed to load parts of Mozilla Firefox into memory before it is used to improve the its startup time.")



    [ Firefox about:config ]

    Some notes on setting up Firefox. You can access the semi-secret settings by typing about:config in the address bar.

    If you're finding Firefox to be very slow (e.g. compared to IE) or having trouble connecting to websites, it might be the
    IPv6 Problem. To fix this one, change network.dns.disableIPv6 to true.

    The "Begin finding when you begin typing" feature (accessibility.typeaheadfind set to true) of FF is really neat. Unfortunately, if you want to keep the find bar up permanently, the about:config entry that should do that (accessibility.typeaheadfind.enabletimeout set to false) doesn't work (this is a known bug in 1.x versions) A good work-around though is to set the timeout value (accessibility.typeaheadfind.timeout) to some very large number, like 3600000 (1 hour, in milliseconds).

    If you would prefer links that normally open in new windows to instead open in new tabs: In Firefox 1.0.x first set "browser.tabs.showSingleWindowModePrefs" to true (note: this step is not necessary in Firefox 1.5). This will unlock a new option in Preferences -> Advanced -> Tabbed Browsing. Go there and put a check next to "Force links that open new windows to open in" and select the option "a new tab". While you're at it, go to Preferences -> Web Preferences ("Content" in FF 1.5) and next to JavaScript, click the Advanced button; uncheck everything (except "Change images" if you're using FF 1.0.x) to prevent the new windows from behaving oddly when certain JavaScript code is used.

    If you never want animated gifs to be animated, instead of using the AniDisable extension, change image.animation_mode from normal to none.

    In FF2, all tabs have close buttons; you can change this behavior by altering browser.tabs.closeButtons A value of 0 puts a close button only on the open tab, 1 is the default (all tabs have close buttons, though the background tabs' close buttons are dulled unless you mouseover them), 2 makes no close buttons (but you can use the middle mouse button to close a tab, or right-click and select close tab) and 3 has a close tab button on the far right, as in FF 1.5

    In FF2, to set it such that links clicked in Firefox that would normally open new windows open new tabs BUT links from external apps (e.g. Thunderbird) open new windows, set browser.link.open_external to "2" and browser.link.open_newwindow to "3".

    See also the MozillaZine page on other about:config entries.



    [ Security Issues ]

    In the Firefox Preferences, select the Cookies (tab) and put a check next to (Allow sites to set Cookies) 'for the originating site only'.

    Now that NoScript has significantly matured, I highly recommend it.
    The settings I use for the
    Appearance tab and the Advanced tab.

    Fixed Vulnerabilities in Mozilla Products

    Scanit Browser Security Test.

    Secunia Vulnerability Reports for Firefox 1.x and IE 6.

    Regarding the malware that installs a fake extension that targets Microsoft Windows systems, it was suggested that this sort of attack can be prevented by using a monitoring program called Winpooch.



    Get Firefox! [ End Notes ]

    And remember, if you're having trouble with Firefox, be sure to visit the Support Forum.

    Some other links: Firefox Stats, Roadmap, Asa's blog and Spread Firefox.

    Finally, a little picture showing how I arranged all the buttons, etc. on a single line; that's FF in ubuntu, BTW :) Update: with Tiny Menu installed; there's lots of room for anything else now.

    And finally, a screenshot I submitted to The Firefox Screencap Project.