Mozilla Firefox is a great browser that has long remained at the top in the battle of Internet web browsers. It is very fast when it comes to speed and has plenty of great downloadable add-ons and customizable options in its arsenal as well.

While it’s already great as is, a little tweaking and knowledge of a few shortcuts will give you a buttery-smooth Firefox browsing experience. Read on to find out how you can maximize your use of this open-source browser.


Add it on!
Firefox has thousands of add-ons available online that will allow you to add extra features. These add-ons do everything! You can change themes, automatically block annoying pop-up videos, quickly translate foreign language websites, share something on Facebook at a click of a button, and much, much more.

Take a look at Mozilla’s add-ons page.

Shortcuts
Firefox has plenty of mouse and keyboard shortcuts, but here are the most common and useful ones that can help speed up your browsing:

  • Mouse Wheel Click – click on a link to open it in a new tab
  • Ctrl + T – New tab
  • Ctrl + W – Close tab
  • Ctrl + Shift + T – Undo close tab
  • Alt + Left/Right Arrow – Back/Forward
  • F5 / Ctrl + R – Reload page
  • Spacebar – Scroll down
  • Shift + Spacebar – Scroll up

And if you want to create your own shortcuts, you can download Customizable Shortcuts, an official Mozilla extension so you can go make your own!

Searching made easy
If you do a lot of searching within sites, Firefox’s search keywords will make life a whole lot easier for you.

In sites that have their own search features – such as Wikipedia – all you have to do is right click on that particular site’s search box and then click “Add a Keyword for this Search.” A dialog box will pop up and this is where you can put in whatever you like as your keyword – “wiki” or just “wk,” for example. After you’ve done this, typing something like “wiki Michael Jordan” or “wk Michael Jordan” in Firefox’s address bar will take you directly to Michael Jordan’s Wikipedia entry. You can assign keywords to all sites that have a search feature.

Address auto-complete
On the address bar, pressing Ctrl + Enter will automatically add “.com” when you’re typing a website address. Shift + Enter adds “.net”, and Ctrl + Shift + Enter adds “.org”.

Toggle through tabs
If you’re the type of person who uses many tabs while browsing, you can cycle through multiple tabs by pressing Ctrl + Page Down to move to the tab on the right, and Ctrl + Page Up to move to the left tab. You can do the same on a Mac by pressing Command + Option + Left/Right Arrow.

23 Comments
  1. I’d be interested in seeing what you have to say about Chrome, I know a lot of people swear by either it or Firefox above all else. I’ve recently switched to it and am liking the connectivity between all my devices and its layout, and seems like most if not all of the shortcuts listed in the article work which is nice to see.

    • Although I switch around through both Chrome and Firefox, I’d say that I like Chrome a teeny bit more. It’s very reliable, and actually has a ton of add-ons available. However there are some things that I need Firefox for, such as cross-browser testing and some extensions exclusively available on Firefox.

    • I’m with you on that on Chrome. I decided to start using earlier this year and have warmed to it quite a lot. Again, I liked the interface and usability. So any angles on Chrome would be useful.

      I tried Firefox some years ago and really didn’t warm to it. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s one for the future. But I think for the moment my Chrome and an Internet Explorer default are about enough for me now.

  2. Personally I use Chrome as my daily browser, and I find it to do everything I need fast and efficiently; however, FireFox is one of the browsers that could draw me to it, and away from Google’s Chrome web browser. I also like customizing my browser, which both FireFox and Chrome do. I’ll also throw in some information you did not put here in the article; FireFox committed to the privacy of its users. Read their Manifesto here: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/about/manifesto/
    (Number four in their Manifesto is where they commit to privacy)

  3. I have been using Firefox for years. Yes, there are times when Firefox makes me tear my hair out. Then I go and try something else like Chrome and Opera. In the end I always come back to Firefox.

    Reason?

    The addons! True, Chrome has many of the addons which Firefox has but Chrome does not implement these addons the same way as Firefox. For example, I like to use the vertical tab bar in Firefox. In Chrome, the vertical tab becomes like a popup on the side. Now I am using Firefox Nightly. I know it’s a testing version but that’s exactly why I am using it, so that the developers can get feedback from me.

    Firefox has put the addons in a separate memory compartment now, so when an addon crashes, Firefox does not. This makes living with Firefox a lot more pleasurable.

    More power to Mozilla for making Firefox.

  4. I am a bit reluctant about downloading add-ons. Because I can’t build one myself, so I have no idea about the process. Fact or opinion? I don’t have to use Mozilla Firefox if I’m not a Mozilla developer. But I don’t have to become a Google Chrome developer to use Google Chrome. I could just be an AdWords user.

    • Why the reluctance to download addons? Addons add spice, so to say, to your browsing experience.

      Let me illustrate with an example.

      Right now, I am using Firefox Nightly. I am also a Facebook addict. I used to keep Facebook in a pinned tab so that I can access it as soon as I am notified about any developments on Facebook.

      Then I found an addon called Fastest Facebook. It’s actually Facebook for mobile devices. And I can access it from a button on my toolbar. Now I don’t have to keep Facebook in a pinned tab. The Fastest Facebook addon made my browsing experience more fruitful. Plus this addon doesn’t take up as much memory as the full-fledged Facebook page because it is actually Facebook for mobile devices.

      So don’t worry about downloading addons. If you don’t like them or if they don’t like you, you can always remove them.

      • I think I quite understand how add-ons work. What made me reluctant is that I don’t download things for fun or just to test them. Usually I would have a problem to solve, and I download something, like a translation add-on to solve a translation problem. I don’t worry about liking or not liking something, because some people might just love it.

  5. Indeed, very useful tips for improving the browsing experience with Mozilla.

    Also, I would like to add another cool feature here, it is the “Master Password”, once that password is given, Mozilla fills up all the passwords in the respective sites.

    So, with just one password, you are able to use all your websites without the hassles of entering the password again and again.

  6. Maaan, no love for Panorama, also known as Tab Candy?! Why?

    That’s one of the most useful features Firefox has to offer, and yet, almost nobody uses it and its own creators have left it gathering dust, scheduled to be fully removed in some future version. And yet, Panorama is the best visual management solution for tabs I’ve seen in my life, allowing you to view all open tabs as icons and group them as you wish.

    It has its problems – I’m waiting for years now for an easy way to mass-select existing tabs and move them to a new group – but there’s nothing else like it, anywhere.

    Am I the only one that finds it useful (and has over 50 tabs open in his browser at any time)?

  7. For people who have lots of tabs open at the same time, ColouredTabs extension can help quickly identifying tabs. It assigns colors to tabs, and these colors are assigned based on the domain name, so for example, every tab which contains davidpapp.com will be shown in a light green tab, for example.

  8. An add-on I just found yesterday is called “Janus”. It runs your unencrypted data through a compression proxy (and also encrypts it), reducing your internet usage and making your data secure even on unencrypted WiFi networks, which is always great.

  9. I love firefox and have used it for years and years now. Thankfully with my new PC I have no problems running it pretty much 24/7 with a lot of tabs open at all times. On my last PC though I was really considering using chrome because it’d be extremely slow at times.

    I personally use a bunch of really cool addons like download manager, chatzilla, downthemall and there are many more great ones out there. I don’t think I’ll ever stop using firefox at this point. 🙂

  10. This is a great post. I didn’t know firefox had all those options. I have always used google chrome as my browser because it came on my computer, but I will definitely look into firefox now. I have noticed some sites that I have issues with on chrome and they suggest using firefox. I will check it out to see if it fits my browsing needs better. I think most people automatically use what is on their computers as well, not thinking about the fact that there may be a better option for them out there. I am willing to try anything a few times to see if I like it more.

  11. I am currently using Chrome, as I have found that on Windows 7, Chrome is faster to simply load up and go, and of course Chrome has a great web store. Firefox does have things like “imacros” that sound really interesting.

  12. Really interesting. Thank you for posting this. I love reading about little tips for programs I use. I haven’t known about most of these till now.

  13. I still prefer Google Chrome above all else because of the fast loading speed it has as well as the Chrome Store from which you can pretty much download anything you need from. It seems as if Firefox wins when it comes to developing and tampering with different services because of the vast range of extensions made for Firefox by other developers.

    As far as some statistics and quick Google searches hint, Chrome has been taking the lead over many other browsers that currently exists.

  14. I love Firefox and I use it a lot. I dislike Chrome. I use almost all of these tips all the time already and they’re really helpful, to be honest. I didn’t know about Ctrl + Spacebar which scrolls up and Ctrl + PgUp/PgDn to switch tabs, thanks for the tips.

    • Firefox is also my first choice 🙂 I love it, at first I didn’t really like the way they organize our favorite links, but after a while I didn’t care. I love the fact Firefox allows us to sync all your favorite links and even passwords! So practical and useful!

      Chrome is fine, I use it to access certain services I can’t with Firefox, but I don’t like to use it for anything else.

  15. These shortcuts are pretty nifty. I like the shift + enter and the ctrl + enter shortcuts to complete the address bar. It saves me a couple of seconds everytime. The best one, according to me, is the mouse wheel click to open in a new tab. I usually right click and then click open in a new tab. Thank you!

  16. The most important firefox addons will always be adblock, noScript, and https everywhere. These three things will give your browsing experience added security and do away with those pesky ads and banners. You won’t get to see those pesky youtube commercials ever again.

  17. I totally love Firefox! I started using IE when I got my first computer, and actually continued to use it for a while, until I had the fortune to actually go for it and try Firefox! At first it was a bit odd for me to switch from one browser to another, but after a bit I got used to it 🙂 Now I totally love it and can’t imagine going back to IE or even Chrome. Love the add ons too, I use the Google Translate one 🙂

  18. I knew most of the keyboard shortcuts, but I wasn’t aware of the one to toggle through tabs. Will definitely be using that all the time now. Thanks for the tip. I’m also reminded to install a few useful add-ons; I haven’t had much time to seek them out even though I’ve had this laptop for nearly a year now. I need to get on that.

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