A good thing about browsers as opposed to other desktop software is the fact that they are extensible. Firefox and Chrome are excellent examples of the same. Many Google chrome add-ons and extensions are available for customizing almost every aspect of browsing. The one aspect we are going to look into here is quick navigation.
Granted, you can use keyboard shortcuts for faster navigation and browsing but with so many add-ons available, there are plenty of choices to make your pick and navigate faster with a lot less work by combining the functionality offered by various extensions. Here are 5 of the better ones:
Keyboard navigation allows you to click on the links without using your mouse. The concept is not new, however keyboard navigation does a good job of implementing the idea.
The extension defines a hot key (,) which places a hint next to every link on the page that can be clicked. While the hint is displayed, key in the characters next to a link to highlight it. You can then do one of the following:
- Hit Enter to open the highlighted link in the current tab.
- Hit Ctrl + Enter to open the highlighted link in a new tab.
The extension is intelligent enough to know when you are entering text and need to use the (,) key in the literal sense.
If you are adept with Vim or a Vim fan, this extension alone easily overshadows the others. While it doesn’t support all of the Vim key bindings (how can it possibly?), it does support the most common ones that can be directly applied to a browser.
You can use the ‘h’, ‘j’, ‘k’, ‘l’ keys for scrolling. A ‘gg’ to scroll to top, a ‘G’ to scroll to bottom. ‘/’ to enter search mode and the familiar ‘n’ and ‘N’ to find next and previous. In addition to many such obvious bindings, vimium also adds some of its own, like the ‘H’ goes back in history and ‘L’ takes you one step forward in history. ‘J’ and ‘K’ can be used to go one tab to the left and one to the right respectively and many more. You can actually type ‘?’ to get an overview of all the shortcuts.
In addition to all that Vimium also offers the functionality offered by Keyboard Navigation extension mentioned above. Just hit the ‘f’ or the ‘F’ key and it displays a hint next to each clickable link or input control on the page. Key in the hint and you are taken to that link or control.
You can also remap these shortcuts using Vimium preferences.
Moving a little towards the mouse now, Yet Another Drag and Go lets you do a variety of operations by a simple drag operation. You can open new links in foreground or in background, open links before or after the current tab, convert text links to URLs, select text and search in one of the different search engines or add your own. All this with just drag and drop.
You can add your own search engines via settings and configure the drag and drop zones for each of them according to your liking.
Bringing more awesomeness to the mouse is Smooth Gestures. Mouse gestures, if you are not familiar with the concept allow you to draw on the screen with your mouse and perform different actions depending upon the shape you draw.
In addition, Smooth gestures also includes Rocker navigation, which allows you to use only mouse buttons to do things like going back and forward in history. Holding down the right mouse button and then clicking the left button would take you back in history, so would holding the right button and drawing a line towards the left.
You can customize the gestures by visiting options for Smooth Gestures.
Do you have a number of tabs open in your browser simultaneously? If yes, you know how hard can it be to find the exact tab you are looking for, specially with Chrome, where tabs are reduced to just favicons when you have a lot of them open.
The solution? Quick Tabs. Just hit Ctrl+M and Quick Tabs presents you with list of all the open tabs sorted in order in which they were recently used.
You can use the arrow keys to quickly switch to the tab you want, or better still you can actually type some of the characters of the tab you are looking for and Quick Tabs will search in the title and URL to list only the tabs that match the letters you typed. Quick Tabs also keeps track of recently closed tabs and allow you to search and restore closed tabs as well.
There you have it, those are our suggestions. We are sure you have plenty in mind too, so go ahead and sound off in the comments with your suggestions!