In a lot of ways, Firefox is just an average browser. It isn’t terrible but neither is it top notch. It’s dependable but ultimately unremarkable. It gets the job done but that’s about it — and if that’s all you want out a web browser, great! Don’t let us sway you away.
This does present a problem though: Firefox’s speed and performance can sometimes suffer. And while there are a few web browsing efficiency tips that you can use to smooth it out a bit, you’ll probably want to kick it up a few more notches, especially if your computer is on the older side.
Here are a few addons that can help. Yes, we know that too many addons can slow down your browser, and the irony isn’t lost on us. Still, if you’re judicious about how many you install, you’ll find that these can actually be very effective.
1. Auto Unload Tab
If you’re like me and you tend to open up dozens of different tabs that you intend to visit later on in the day, then you’re probably well-acquainted with the fact that these tabs can slow Firefox to a crawl because of all the CPU and RAM that they use up in the background.
Frustrating, to say the least.
Notable features include:
- Automatically unload tabs after X minutes of inactivity.
- Protect certain tabs from being unloaded.
- Decide whether pinned tabs are unloaded as well.
- Manually unload tabs with a single click.
- Blacklist and whitelist for certain websites.
2. Flashblock [No Longer Available]
If you’ve tried everything and Firefox is still unbearably slow for you, then you should consider the possibility that Flash is slowing you down. Though Flash usage across the web is on the decline, it’s still around — mostly in the form of videos and ads, which can require a lot of CPU.
The Flashblock plugin auto-detects Flash objects and disables them, preventing them from loading in the first place. It then replaces those objects with placeholders to show you that something was blocked and allow you to manually enable them on a case-by-case basis.
Flashblock allows you to whitelist certain sites if necessary.
3. Image Block
Flash objects aren’t the only web elements that can take a while to load. These days, file sizes for web images are getting bigger and bigger, which means they take longer to download and process — and for Firefox, that also means a delay in the entire page-loading procedure.
Image Block disables the loading of all images while browsing new pages. You’d be surprised how much faster the web actually is once images are out of the picture! And yes, this addon actually blocks those images — it doesn’t just hide them.
If you ever need images, you can just toggle the feature by clicking the Image Block icon in the toolbar. Extremely simple to use. The only downside is that you can’t customize it with blacklists or whitelists, but even so it’s still worth using.
4. Speed Tweaks [No Longer Available]
We’ve been recommending Speed Tweaks as a way to speed up Firefox for a few years now, though back then it was known as Speedyfox. The concept of it is simple: Firefox lets you tweak all kinds of settings through the about:config page but Speed Tweaks makes the whole process easier.
For example, pipelining is a feature that’s disabled by default when you first install Firefox, but it’s often recommended that you enable it to speed up page loading. Not only does Speed Tweaks let you enable it without opening about:config, it also recommends which values to use.
Other settings you can change through Speed Tweaks include prefetching, proxy connections, IPv4 fallbacks, caching, and more. Do give it a try. There’s a good chance that you’ll immediately benefit from it.
5. BetterFox [No Longer Available]
BetterFox has one single promise to deliver on: it will make your web browsing experience 15% faster. It’s hard to know how exactly BetterFox can quantify the web browsing experience like that, but the idea is there — use this addon and Firefox will be faster.
But does it hold up to that promise? A bit, though the description is slightly misleading. BetterFox offers five features that can make Google searches more efficient:
- Auto Scroll automatically loads the next page of results as you scroll down, so you don’t have to manually click between pages. It also provides a quick-jump button to navigate between pages.
- Floating Search Panel that follows you even as you scroll down the page, so you don’t have to scroll all the way back up to re-search.
- Back to Top button in case you need to scroll back up.
- X button in the search form for instantly clearing queries.
- Favicons in the search results to help you identify sites faster and avoid potential imposters.
Got Any More Firefox Tips?
If Firefox is still slow after using these addons, there are a few more things you should try: regularly clearing your cache, trimming excessive bookmarks, switching your DNS servers, and tweaking a few other settings that aren’t touched by the aforementioned Speed Tweaks.
Otherwise, you may want to change browsers or wait patiently for new web technologies to become mainstream, such as Google’s AMP web pages and MIT’s Polaris web framework, both of which promise to drastically speed up the entire web.
Did these addons work for you? What other tips and tricks have you used to boost the speed of Firefox? We’d love to hear from you. Share with us down in the comments!
Image Credit: Red Fox by Carl Day via Shutterstock