The information in this post applies specifically to Firefox versions up to version 18.104.22.168.
First Things First – Get Firefox!
According to what I read and hear, Firefox has garnered between about 12 and 20 percent of the browser market so far. But from what I can see in these little charts from Feedburner and Google, more than two-thirds of Wordout readers are using Firefox. Not all you guys are up to date, though, so the first thing to do is to make sure you have the latest version of Firefox.
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(if you need to).
To find out if you are running the latest and greatest, click on the Help menu. All the way down at the bottom of the list, click About. A window will appear. You want to look at the very last thing written there, a number. As of December 10th the current number is 22.214.171.124, so if your version number is lower than that one, you need to upgrade. (If you have any doubts, select the option “Check for Updates” in the Help menu.) If don’t have Firefox installed yet, or if you need to upgrade, click here and download it to your desktop. Or you can just choose to run it from it’s current location, if you have that option.(Vista owners, just click through all the warnings and confirmations and whatever, as long as you’re installing Firefox from that link.) If you downloaded the file, run it now.
As you’re installing Firefox, the installer program gives you a few choices. It’s safe to simply click through these choices, leaving them at their defaults. Once the installer is finished, Firefox will start. The first time Firefox runs, it will ask you if it is the default browser, and if you want to import any settings from Internet Explorer (or whatever your default browser was). Saying yes to both questions is fine with me, and ensures your favorite sites and your homepage will travel to Firefox with you.
“Firefox Is Ugly”
You’ll notice that Firefox, without customization, is rather ugly. I’ve heard that repeated alot over the last couple of years. But that’s the thing about Firefox. It expects you to mess with it. There’s very little more than raw “Go” built into it when you first get it. Luckily, messing around with Firefox is pretty easy. You go to a page and click a big button that says “Install Now“. Then another window appears and you can see it countdown your place in line. As soon as the file is available to you, the second “Install Now” button appears, you click it, and you are good to go.
Add Ons – Not Just Another Useless Toolbar
Below is a list of links that not only spruce up your new browser, but add real functionality to it as well. Trust me, none of these are just another useless toolbar to clutter your screen. (Except for one. Can you guess which?) Go ahead and click each one with your MIDDLE mouse button (that scroll wheel is a button, too), so they open in new tabs without having to leave this page. You can open them all, one by one. Note: If you click your middle mouse button anywhere but a link, your screen may start scrolling in the direction of the mouse. Just click the middle button again to stop it.
Noia Extreme – My favorite way to look at Firefox.
Adblock – I have it, but I see no need for it.
BlueOrganizer – The best way I know to store your bookmarks.
Forecast Fox – Gotta have my weather.
FoxClocks – You might know somebody somewhere else.
Foxy Tunes – Full control over music players like Winamp, Media Player.
Homeland Security (cynical) – Normally yellow bar that usually says “Scared”.
Homeland Security – Normally yellow bar that follows the DHS color scheme.
Pong – Who knows when you want to play?
Quicknote – Perfect for taking notes while you’re researching on the net.
Session Manager – Never lose a session, even when you crash.
Text Size Toolbar – For tired, old eyes. And tired young eyes.
Adding feeds is easy, too. Just click the link below and go to the page. As you go to each page, look at the address bar up above. Over to the right, just before the “Go” button, you’ll see an RSS icon. Just click it, and tell it to always use “Live Bookmarks“. As you OK each one, you’ll see it appear on your Bookmark Toolbar, below the address bar. You can type in your own abbreviated names for these feeds as you’re approving them. If you forget, and want to change them later, just right click on them and select Properties. Remember, in the future you can subscribe to as many RSS feeds as you want this way. Go ahead and click these with your middle button, too. You’re getting quite a few tabs opened by now.
Over on the far right of your screen, just above the top of this window, you see all your tabs and a little arrow pointing to the right. Click the arrow to get all the way to the last tab. Once you go to that tab and get the RSS feed, you’ll want to just close that tab by clicking on the little “x” on the right side of the tab. When that tab disappears, the next one will be in front of you. Go ahead and subscribe to all the RSS feeds you chose, and then install the add-ons, one by one. The last one you’ll get to is Noia Extreme, and it requires you to do a bit more.
Noia Extreme is a Theme. You can have many themes installed, but you have to select which one you want to see. When you click to install Noia, a different kind of box appears. Just agree with it. Then, in the add-ons box, under themes, you will find Noia 2.0 Extreme. Click the “Use Theme” button and close that window. Then restart Firefox.
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Just The Way You Want It
You’re going to think something has gone radically wrong. Nothing has taken this long since you accidentally downloaded that… well, we won’t discuss that here… but don’t worry about it. Firefox takes a bit of extra time during this startup. We’ve just added alot to it, and it needs just a moment to get its face on.
It will need your help. Several of these add-ons are going to need some information from you to work right. Forecast Fox will present you with a list of options, one of which is your zip code. Without at least that much, it can’t do its job. There are also options for how it should display itself, and where. I usually like it up top, towards the right of my Menu toolbar.
Look through all the options in all the add-ons. Take your time, there’s no real hurry here. You can choose to set some of them up later if you want to. There’s nothing wrong with that either. This will take some getting used to, and you will probably change things around a few times before you get it just the way you want it.
Once you’re done with the configurations, and all you have open is Firefox, you want to place your mouse kind of between the address bar and the bar above it, and right click. Select “Customize“, and the Customize Toolbar will appear. Here you see many of the features you just installed. You want to grab them with the left mouse button and drag them onto one of the toolbars up above.
The first thing I usually do is grab the Google Search bar and drag it onto the top bar, so that the address bar and the search bar are stacked. Then I grab a couple of Flexible Spaces and place them on each side of the search bar. I cram FoxClocks all the way to the top right and throw a Print button up there too. I drag the Bookmarks, Downloads, and History and place them on the left, bottom toolbar, beside my feeds. Then I grab 2 more of those Flexible Spaces and put them on either side of my feeds. I like to have the Text Size Toolbar on the right, beside the feeds.The Session Manager goes right beside my Go button, and the Undo Close button goes to the right of that. I put my BlueMark in between the Home button and the address bar. While you’re in there, you might want to change the size of the icons, and either add or remove the text. When you’re done dragging things around, close out that window.
Oh yeah, one more thing. Click on the “G” inside the Google Search Bar. All the way at the bottom click “Manage Search Engines“. In the little window that pops up, click the link that says “Get more search engines”. This will open a new tab with a list of different search engines you might like to have right at your fingertips. I like to have a dictionary, at the very least. The Mycroft link at the bottom of that page will take you to even more selections.
By now you should have something that looks similar to this:
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Don’t worry if it doesn’t look exactly like mine. On 3 different computers, I have Firefox setup in 3 different ways. Once you get a bit more familiar with these add-ons, you might find that you like them better some other way. And that’s okay. That’s what Firefox expects. Once you’re comfortable with it, go back to Firefox and look through the add-ons. See if there are more you might like. Trust me, these only scratch the surface.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask away. Either leave a comment or click the AskAway! button at the top of this page.
I am Jon, and Firefox is my browser of choice.