When it comes to productivity, it would seem less is more. Apply this minimalist approach to Firefox and see how it turns out.
If a major chunk of your work involves a browser, you need all the tips you can get to fight distractions and get work done. We have many resources to help you with that. For starters, there’s:
- A roundup of apps to stay productive on Chrome
- Tactics to work smarter in Firefox
- A list of essential productivity extensions for Chrome
Today, I’ll share one more approach for working better inside a browser. It’s my personal strategy for turning Firefox into a productive workspace without overloading it with add-ons.
To Banish Clutter: Free up Some Screen Space
Visual clutter is distracting, so begin by cleaning up the primary toolbar. Click on the Open Menu icon at the extreme right on the toolbar. This opens the Additional Tools and Features section. One by one, drag and drop any icon that you don’t use (or use rarely) to this section, and rearrange the remaining icons.
Functions like cut-copy-paste, zoom, full screen, find, etc. have easy keyboard shortcuts. Use those instead of their icon counterparts from the main menu. Thanks to the awesome Awesome Bar, you can afford to remove the search bar as well.
Firefox 29 onward, the menu bar stays hidden by default. Let it stay that way. Most of its functionality is available via the customizable, icon-based main menu interface anyway. If you do need to access the menu bar, use Alt to toggle it. If you have created any other toolbars, hide them or delete them.
Get some more browser real estate by hiding the title bar the way Chrome does. This tweak, once a default feature in Firefox, requires an add-on. Hide Caption Titlebar Plus does the job and gives you plenty of options to fiddle with.
Here’s what my Firefox setup looked like by default.
And here’s what it looks like now.
To Avoid Clutter: Don’t Bookmark Websites
For several years I was a bookmark addict. I used to spent insane amounts of time saving Web pages, and then sorting, rearranging, and syncing them. Ironically, whenever I needed some piece of information, I just googled it afresh. That seemed easier and faster than sifting through an overflowing Bookmarks folder.
Eliminating that bookmarking habit has boosted my productivity like nothing else. Now the only time I bookmark stuff is when I’m researching for an article that I’m writing in the current week. Even then I delete those pages as soon as I have wrapped up my article. This approach may not work for you. If it doesn’t, you can always find ways to manage your bookmarks better.
To Save Time: Keep Your Work Tabs Handy
When you open your browser, having a set of work-related tabs staring back at you can help you avoid time-wasting websites like Facebook and Twitter. Let’s pretend that’s true, okay? In any case having your work tabs set up for easy access is a time-saver. Use an extension like Tree Style Tab or Tab Mix Plus to manage tabs better and keep the important ones lined up and ready to go.
If, like me, you don’t keep too many tabs open, skip the extensions. Instead, pin important tabs to Firefox and arrange them beforehand. Ensure that you have set Firefox to show your windows and tabs from the previous session when you restart the browser. You’ll find this setting under Preferences > General.
To Keep Firefox Speedy: Use Private Tabs
We recommend cleaning your browser’s cache and deleting its history to speed up your browser. The downside is that you to have to go through the login process for various websites again. You can delete history selectively, but that’s tedious. You can set Firefox to never remember history, clear history when it closes, or to always use Private Browsing mode. But each of these settings comes with its own drawbacks.
Here’s what I do to keep the browser junk from accumulating too fast.
- I use regular tabs only for opening websites that I use everyday. Some of those websites are WordPress, Litewrite, PicMonkey, and Gmail.
- For everything else, I use private tabs. That includes temporary tasks like Web searches, news reading, and logging in to sites that I don’t use often.
This simple trick has increased the gap between my history cleaning sessions.
Install the Private Tab add-on to switch to private browsing in a new tab instead of a new window as is default. Chrome has an extension with a similar functionality, but that one’s not as intuitive or effective.
Less Is More
There’s a lot more you can do to make your Firefox workflow more efficient. I have set up custom search engines, enabled only the most important extensions, and simplified logins with a PasswordBox account. Maybe you could supercharge the Awesome Bar, reduce tab overload, and stop auto-playing videos.
What you see above is what’s working for me. Mix these tips and tricks with some others to find a combo that works for you!
What has been your personal Firefox productivity strategy so far? How well is it working out? Tell us in the comments. We’re listening.