Firefox 3 Introduction (Presentation Outline) -- David McRitchie

Firefox is a very popular browser, a lot of it's appeal comes from being a cross platform browser, standards compliance (both an advantage and a disadvantage), has about a 24.52% usage share. [ref] [refref]  Firefox is still favored by users who wish to customize their with a wide range of extensions, preference settings, and chrome styling (themes).

These notes were used in my Firefox presentation at the Trenton Computer Festival on April 24-25, 2010 (speakers).

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Where to Get Firefox  (#where)

Preliminary Videos (#intro)

Why I chose Firefox, and still prefer it (#features)

  1. Bookmarklets not limited by size restrictions.
  2. Runs on Windows 2000 which I had at the time.
  3. Suppress ads, with popup blocking, and with extensions
  4. Tabs
  5. Keyword shortcuts with substitutions enhance bookmarks, bookmarklets, file selections, and search engine usages.
  6. Customizable preferences
  7. Extensions really make Firefox usable and adaptable for more complicated things.  The use of a wide range of Extensions set Firefox apart from other browsers.
  8. Choice of search engines, many of which have interactive suggestions while typing.
Additional reasons why I still like Firefox best
  1. Firefox 3 "AwesomeBar" lists most relevant urls based on your personal history and bookmarks on your machine.
  2. String searching of bookmarks, and history from Awesome bar (Ctrl+L), Bookmarks (Ctrl+B) & History (Ctrl+H) Sidebars, and from the more comprehensive Library List (Ctrl+Shift+B, Ctrl+Shift+H, or Bookmarks → "Organize Bookmarks").

For a list of current features   (#fx3_features)

  1. Where to download, Firefox web browser | Faster, more secure, &customizable (
  2. Firefox web browser | Features: Faster, more secure, &customizable
  3. Features of Mozilla Firefox - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, Wikipedia
  4. Where to get Firefox Extensions (Add-ons), Firefox Add-ons
  5. Where to get Styles for use in “Stylish” extension, Stylish |, some of my styles (user: 12592) that I wrote and will demonstrate that affect toolbars, keyword usage.

Where to Get Help (#help)

  1. Documentation see “Firefox Documentation Locators
  2. Newsgroups see Chris Ilias’ Blog, Help via Newsgroups, specifically support.mozilla.firefox (Please try to find answers by searching Firefox documentation first)
  3. Searching newsgroups and the web see Documentation above, and additional search tips, which should help you get as much out of the search box as if you had been using the Advanced Search page at several major search engines.  You should set your preferences at each search engine's site (look for preferences on your search results page).
  4. Mozilla and Firefox bloggers are summarized at Planet Mozilla which has short versions of latest blogs.  Also has an index of the bloggers.  While blogs are not really help, it is interesting and provides insight into what's available or in the works.  An example of a Firefox blogger is Asa Dotzler: Firefox and more, and an example of a blog about gadgets is Gizmodo, the Gadget Guide.
  5. An example of a newsgroup posting as it appears in Google Groups archives is gg:fix no longer working - | Google Groups.  Note that Goggle by default displays only 10 postings at a time then you have to select in the next group of 10 to continue.  Because of that thread you can still remove (hide/show) the third column with the redesigned bookmarklet described in the thread or by dragging gg:fix  to your personal bookmarks bar and invoking it while looking at the thread.  You can up the number from 10 which is the default to 100 in your Google preferences or with "Customize Google" extension which has a streaming option for web searches so you really have no limit when you scroll near your maximum you get more.

Some topics that would probably be covered (briefly)  (#topics)

Some topics that will probably be covered to show what can be done (these links used to be hidden.) Additional topics

More Information  (#more)

Additional information on all of the above can be found on my web pages AwesomeBar

Quick Demonstration of AwesomeBar, and History (#awesomebar)

Quick demonstration: Type "intro" into the location bar to see awesomebar, then do same from Ctrl+H, Ctrl+B, and from Ctrl+Shift+B (view more/less columns)
Some other time:
Need to include which Tools,Options,Privacy,History: will show up in history and which clears history.

Find Previously Viewed pages (#findinghistory)

If you are on Fx3 and you can remember part of a recently used webpage by parts of it's title and parts of its url you can type words into they location bar and look at the autocomplete dropdown (nicknamed AwesomeBar).  Another way to find your recently used webpages is through History (Ctrl+H) then in the upper right corner of the history sidebar you can chose an sort order to help you find something along with the use of the search bar on the history sidebar.  Mine is usually set to  View  "By Last visited".

Deleting History items (#deletinghistory)

Deleting History (Ctrl+H) items has little trick, select without invoking, by clicking to the left of icon in the History sidebar entries.  Add more to selection with Ctrl key (discontiguous), or use Shift to extend selection (contiguous).  Delete with the Del key.  While bookmarked entries will be deleted from History they will still show up because they are bookmarks (identified by the star).

Within History (Ctrl+H) you can use the View dropdown to select a view {By Date and Site | By Site | By Date | By Most Visited | By Last Visited} which can make it easier to make selections from.  Use the Search box or a range within By Last Visited will probably be the most useful for selective deletions from History.

More information on viewing and deleting History items:  Viewing the browsing history - Firefox - MozillaZine Knowledge Base

History is controlled from Tools, Options, Privacy and with configuration options (about:config) such as those beginning with "browser.history.".

Modifications   (#modifications)

Toolbars & Chrome

There will be additional help for Toolbars and Menus in Menu Reference in your Help.

Toolbar Customization   (#toolbar)

Toolbar customization can be initiated from right-click anywhere on toolbar, or from View, Toolbars, Customize.  Drag icons to or from the toolbars, and don't forget small icon choice at the bottom. 

Tools → Options window, is the primary place to set options in Firefox.  Additional options can be set with about:config described in the next topic.

See “Stylish” style customizations are described after the extensions section. about:config

about:config preferences   (#pref)

Use of About:config entries - MozillaZine Knowledge Base from the location bar (address bar) opens up a number of customization settings that are easy to change.  The “Fox Splitter (formerly Split Browser)” extension may be of use in comparing your settings to the definitions.

Also check out additional tab preferences in

Configuration Changes to tie into Notepad with Ctrl+U

Actually when setting this up from files on the web it might be better to use wordpad initially, because notepad does not see the newlines properly.

If you need to occasionally use the builtin source view on a LOCAL file after making the Notepad change, you can use a bookmarklet:...
  viewsource: View Source (to use builtin in source viewer)

Notepad ☷☷☷☷ may not render source code in a readable form from most websites due to control characters, in which case try WordPad to view properly.  You can invoke WordPad or other installed editors (such as HTML-Kit) using the "Launchy" extension.

Instead of setting each preference through about:config, you can include them in user.js, which is a file that you must create in the profile folder yourself. 

The changes suggested on this page can be found here, the cards should look like this, with a lot more content:

user_pref("browser.tabs.closeButtons", 3);
user_pref("extensions.checkCompatibility", false);
user_pref("extensions.checkCompatibility.3.6", false);
user_pref("extensions.checkCompatibility.3.7", false);

user_pref("extensions.checkUpdateSecurity", false);
user_pref("extensions.disabledObsolete", false);
user_pref("general.warnOnAboutConfig", false);
This should also be added/documented on both of these web pages, it is not the default, but is probably what most people expect and was how Firefox 2 acted.  It prevents Firefox from closing the window when you close the last tab, and subsequently if prevents Firefox from closing itself when it closes the last tab of the last window.
user_pref("browser.tabs.closeWindowWithLastTab", false);
(older) Additional settings for user.js and userChrome.css can be found in my firefox/code/ directory.  The user file is rather old, and I now use styles that you can find at instead of one big userChrome.css file.

Also touch on use of  keyword shortcuts, and bookmarklets. Menus & Context Menus

Menus & Context Menus   (#context)

See page on Context Menus -- Right-Click Menus and Toolbars in Firefox Keywords

Keyword shortcuts   (#kws)

Presentation may make use of these keyword shortcuts (kws:):  Most of my keyword shortcuts are in a folder named "K" on my personal toolbar, some of them are bookmarklets to change page appearance, but most of such bookmarklets are not included.  View the page as an HTML page there are some additional notes there, within the K folder.

Experimental:  have placed a k.html file containing most of my keyword shortcuts in the same folder as this page that is the exported bookmarks.html from a small test profile with the “K” (keyword shortcuts), “S:” (styles documentation) and “site” (site specific) personal bookmarks folders.  You can import into your bookmarks via Organize bookmarks and it will appear at the end of your Bookmarks Menu, then move the “K” (and “Site” if not within “K” folder) folders to your Bookmarks Toolbar (Personal Bookmarks) then get rid of imported bookmarks at the end of your Bookmarks MenuThe “K” folder may look like “K (2010-04-18)” simply rename it to “K” once in place on the personal bookmarks toolbar through the bookmarks properties (right-click context menu).

Directions to install k.html bookmarks into your own Firefox Bookmarks Toolbar.
2010-08-25 Contents: (not recounted for each version) -- date processed for website Generated for K folder on Bookmarks bar -- 634 Key word shortcuts (keywords:count). 399 bookmarks w/o keywords, for awesombar reference, 231 JavaScript bookmarklets (bml:) in K folder, 1033 bookmarks included in K folder, 214 substitution %S (href: - then using Find All (Find Bar count) before/after.

  1. Bring up the page
  2. Use File → Save As" to save as c:\temporary\k.html so you have a local copy that can be imported into your bookmarks, then view the saved local file
  3. When you import this HTML file from a local copy, the folders and bookmarks will be added to the end of your Bookmarks Menu as seen in your Bookmarks sidebar (Ctrl+B) with a title like Bookmarks Toolbar ADDITIONS.
  4. After importing, bring up your Bookmarks sidebar (Ctrl+B) and rename the "k (yyyy-mm-dd)" and the same for other such folders in the "Bookmarks Toolbar ADDITIONS" folder that was added to the end of your "Bookmarks Menu" folder.  Then select the wanted folders, bookmarks and separators to your Bookmarks Toolbar by selecting them at left side with Ctrl+click or Shift to extend selection and drag them to your Bookmarks Toolbar.  Afterwards you can remove the "Bookmarks Toolbar ADDITIONS" folder from your Bookmarks Menu.
  5. Install "Bookmarks Toolbar Blue/Folders, Red/Bookmarks |" (Style 9091) to make Bookmarks Toolbar easier to read with folders in blue and bookmarks in red.
  6. For best viewing of this file in an exported bookmarks.html listing, use the following bookmarks in this order -- href:, subs:, bml:, and keywords: -- use subs: before bml: not before. Links do not have titles in a bookmarks.html file so the parentips: bookmarklet will not work on within the k.html file.
  7. For easiest introductory testing use the bookmarks sidebar to see what they can do on various pages. For normal use -- use the keyword shortcuts.

The k.html file is an HTML file so you can examine the bookmarklets and descriptions with your browser to see if you are interested, unfortunately dragging an item from within the html file to your personal bookmarks would not pick up the keyword or the description, so you would have to import as described above or manually type in an individual entry.  Using the "keywords:" bookmarklet you can see that the  k.html  file contains 506 keyword shortcuts plus an additional 187 bookmarks for supporting presentations, testing, or documentation (693 bookmarks in total) [click on "keywords:", "href:count", and "href:" in the listing.].  Some methods of counting bookmarks in a MozillaZine KB article Counts_-_Counting_bookmarks_history_links_and_other_data_-_Firefox.

When you browse through the k.html file to see what it contains, you might want to also check out the actual links involved by finding the "href:" that is part of a link and clicking on that link.  Although this file (k.html) shows the keywords you can show keywords by doing same for "keywords:".

Another method of installing my bookmarklets would be to create a new profile, bring it up with -no-remote, as seen in Quick Launch additions for Firefox Usage, as well as your normal profile, import the k.html bookmarks into the new profile then copy the folder you want from the new profile and paste it to your normal profile's bookmarks toolbar.

Examples of Keyword Shortcuts -- Bookmarks

Example of use of both JavaScript & Substitution in Firefox

This example was prepared with instructions found on my Bookmarklets page, after using HREF: bookmarklet, and "Context Highlight" extension.  The use of VOID would mean that the location bar is left undisturbed, if you used the bookmark directly instead of from a keyword shortcut typed into the location bar.  But there is a way around that when using a keyword shortcut if the Navigation bar is hidden such as (View, Toolbars) or with F11 if you have the "Hide Screen" extension then Locate to Location Bar (Ctrl+L) brings up the long Location bar dialog and you can type in keyword shortcut, and the actual location bar is left undisturbed.  (Suggest viewing these bookmarklets with "Linkify" extension disabled.)
g:  Google Search   a plain bookmark with %S substitution, attempts to reject web forums and advertising sites.
[-- --]
gsite: Google Search with page's domain ‡‡‡
[--   javascript:location=''%20+%20escape(location.hostname)%20+%20'%20%S'%20;%20void%200 --]
ss: Site Search - search within site
[--  javascript:void(location.href=''+location.href.split(%22/%22)[2]+'+%s&newwindow=1&sourceid=firefox')   --]
ss:y Site Search - Yahoo search within site
[-- javascript:void(location.href=''+location.href.split(%22/%22)[2]+'+%s')  --]
ssd: Site Search - search within current directory
[-- javascript:void(location.href=''+location.href.substring(0,location.href.substring(0,location.href.length-1).lastIndexOf('/')+1)+'+%s&newwindow=1&sourceid=firefox')  --]

Difference between (small s) %s and (Capital S) %S in keyword shortcuts

  1. (small s): %s will have additional substitution replacements: # by %23, % by %25, and / by %2F, @ by %40.
  2. (Capital S): %S will not have substitutions and allow use of C++ in a Google search, allow use of @ in an email substitution, allow use of a fragment-id in a url substitution index.html#example2, and use of a directory as in code/example2.txt.

Bookmarks to zap bad styles

There are a number of Bookmarks to zap bad styles at Bookmarklets for Zapping Annoyances at, also see my bookmarklets page.

Additional information for Keywords shortcuts


Extensions (#extensions)

Where to get extensions:  Extensions I recommend are on my home page marked with a Red diamond () and can be obtained from links there, many of which are found at or at, links on my page also point to developer's own pages.  (The extensions recommended by Mozilla are very often extensions, I would avoid, so don't put much weight into their suggestions).

The extensions I use are described on my web pages starting with -- key to symbols used is at the bottom of the table.  The red diamonds () are the are the important ones.

The extensions I have on my normal profile can be seen in an Infolister listing:

When installing extension, please take the time to read the information about the extension both for the add-on and in the Extensions Table on my home page.  At the addons pages, you should be aware of the short description, long description, size of zipped install file, author's own pages and help materials, Options available at the Tools, Addons, or on other menus or even the status bar; and how to invoke the extension. Extensions (continued)

Examples of Extensions   (#ext_examples)

Some Extensions of Common interest can be found in the k.html file that you imported above in Keyword shortcuts (#kws), or you can get links to shortcuts clicking on "Obtain Extensions" at the right margin. Extensions (Links) If the Install button on the page is green then, then the Firefox version is within the compatibility range of the Extension, and can be installed. 

Suggest you refer also to my home page (firefox.htm) for additional information and suggestions, particularly if no link was provided.

The actual install of an extension is an .XPI file, which in Firefox should transparently install the extension, it is actually a zipped file.

ALL of these extensions will work on Firefox Version 3 (Windows: Vista/Windows 7), and all are described in greater detail on my homepage -- Firefox Customizations (Notes)

Extensions dropped from list but not forgotten   (#ext_dropped)


Styling Styling

Styling affects the appearance of a page (chrome), it can be used to suppress ads, rearrange parts of a page. Some examples of bad pages or page that will readily show change due to styling changes.

Suggested Style Customizations for use with the Stylish extension (#stylish)

[Picture of Toolbar Style changes]
Styles could be included in your userChrome.css that you would have to create in the chrome folder of your profile.  By installing both "Stylish" and "Stylish Custom" extensions, you can see the effects of turning a style on/off immediately without the use of your userChrome.css file and without having to restart Firefox.  Some suggestions of interest:  (Styles obtainable at

Additional Suggestions, the following are not mine, nor related to Tabs, but I use them at least occasionally.  demonstrate

You can change the style code to your preferences.  An easy and frequent change is to select a color like #FF0000 which is red then in styles code, click on the “Insert”, and choose a color, your selection will be replaced by the new color code. 

The style is at userstyles with a .css extension.  Profiles

Profiles   (#profiles)

See Quick Launch additions for Firefox Usage, describes command line profile use, and use of desktop and Quick Launch shortcuts (Windows).


Comparisons of HTML and source available   (#comparison)

Other Comparisons   (#compother)


Backup   (#backup)

Having a backup of all of your personal data is imperative, having a backup off-site would be a good idea.  For Firefox your backup should include your Firefox profile, typically you would backup from the root directory, which would include all of your profiles, and application data for many of your other applications as well.  Having the backup is most important.  Some General Hints on backups can be found in Backup your files, always take backups.  The cheapest and fastest backup is an external hard drive (160GB or more), which should be connected and on only when needed to backup or restore.  A DVD backup is quite limited in size (2GB) but cheap and suitable for off-site backup of important files. FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions   (#faq)

Frequently Asked Questions concerning this presentation.
Why would I want to install and use Firefox, instead of Internet Explorer 7.
Play the Mike Beltzner video at the top of this page.  A lot of the the presentation was about what is new in Firefox and not in other browsers.
What is the difference between Web Forums and Newsgroups.
Newsgroups are generally text only (plain text), and it is only text that Google Groups archives.  There are some legitimate web forums, but watch out for those that simply pass on your question to real newsgroups as their purpose is to collect information from you and feed you advertisements.  Google Groups is an archive they do not run newsgroups.  You do not need to signup for newsgroups, do not subscribe to receive postings as email, it will clog up your email.  How to subscribe to newsgroups.  Instructions for new newsgroup server at Chris Ilias’ Blog, suggest you also read links about newsgroups.
How to Make Adobe PDF files open directly in Adobe Reader instead of Firefox
See “Disabling the browser plugin” about half way down in Adobe Reader - MozillaZine Knowledge Base
How do I get Gmail ( to display the old way in Firefox3
At the bottom of your Gmail screen chose “Basic HTML” instead of Standard and don't turn on Chat (Chat is the main problem with GMail when using Firefox 3).      [Additional GMail info ]
What about Google Chrome entry into the browsers available
Guess you'll have to see for yourself, it grabbed 1% of market in 24 hours.  Keep in mind that Google Chrome is Beta software (testing stages).  Google Chrome - Download a new browser, (preannoucement download scrubbed), Official Google Blog: Update to Google Chrome's terms of service (blog), and Google changes Chrome EULA over privacy concerns | Computerworld BlogsAin’t Gonna Give up Firefox for Google Chrome | Armchair Theorist (blog).  Cartoons (first see NYT article)
What I dislike most about Google Chrome was converting “Chrome” to refer to a browser, which makes searching for Firefox stuff more difficult.
Safe Browsing

Safe Browsing   (#safebrowsing)

Three levels of blocking domains or urls, plus style to block urls. Only the hosts file protects using any browser, or any Firefox profile.  Extensions are not installed on all of my profiles.  Multiple profiles is beyond the scope of this article, but I don't do much browsing on any test profile.

Really Safe Browsing (#reallysafe)


Bookmarks and Bookmarks Folders (#bookmarks)

Sorting and rearranging bookmarks - Firefox - MozillaZine Knowledge Base Bookmarklets

Bookmarklets   (#bookmarklets)

Bookmarklets;  There are a lot of links on this page.  The following BookMarklets will distinguish between internal or external links.  First click on "highlight links",  and then on "int/ext links".  Your browser's Reset button (F5) will reload the original unmodified web page. 

Presentation Tabs (#tabs)

The following tabs may be loaded in this order for a presentation.  The "Linky" extension will allow you to open selected links into new tabs.
  1. Firefox 3 Introduction (Presentation Outline) (17 pages)
  2. Firefox Customizations (Notes), my notes on the extensions I use. (70 pages)
  3. Firefox and other Browser Keyboard Shortcuts (Comparison Table) (10 pages)
  4. Firefox Keyword Shortcuts, one of the best features of Firefox. (15 pages)
  5. Tabbed Browsing in Firefox, suggestions to help with tabbed browsing. (29 pages)
  6. Tab Capacity Test, plus: scrolling, tab handling, tab ordering, and spelling testing (300 lines, 7 pages)
  7. Tabs configuration, extracted from About:config entries - MozillaZine Knowledge Base (7 pages)
  8. Firefox - MozillaZine Knowledge Base, Introductory matterial for Mozillazine KB. (5 pages)
  9. Problematic extensions - MozillaZine Knowledge Base, check this before installing extensions. (11 pages)
  10. Personas for Firefox, a Firefox 3.6.3 feature.  (Not recommended if you want to keep toolbars small.)

Past Presentations (#past)

Partial presentation to ACGNJ Firefox user group on August 18, 2008 (ACGNJ meetings are Open to the Public).
Presented to Exxon Mobile Retirees Group on September 4, 2008 (as a guest speaker).
Presented at ACGNJ Main Meeting on October 03, 2008 with some emphasis on Extensions and Styles (ACGNJ meetings are Open to the Public).
Presented at Trenton Computer Festival on April 24-25, 2010 (speakers).

This page was introduced on July 24, 2008. 
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