Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
A slow workflow makes for a slow browsing experience. Speed up both with a few simple tricks.
Since my brush with RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury), I have always been on the lookout for tricks that reduce the need for mouse clicks and typing. I have found various easy ways that give me the opportunity to rest my hands and have outlined a few of them below. These methods allow me to browse super fast, which is crucial for a web worker like me, and are efficient overall.
Set Up Shortcuts Wherever You Can
Create keyword shortcuts to access your favorite websites quickly. In Chrome, begin by right-clicking on the omni bar and selecting Edit Search Engines… from the dropdown menu that pops up. In the Other search engines section of the dialog box that appears, create a new entry by:
- Typing in the name of the website that you want to access with a keyword
- Assigning a keyword of your choice, preferably only a letter or two to keep it short
- Adding the URL of the website
- Clicking on Done
In the following image you can see that I have assigned the shortcut pm to PicMonkey. Whenever I want to open the PicMonkey website, I type in pm and hit Enter.
For some people, mouse clicks are less painful than typing, and for others it’s the opposite. If you fall in the latter category, it pays to learn as many keyboard shortcuts as you can. Ergonomically speaking, typing is less harmful than clicking. Memorize and use the following shortcuts while surfing.
- Open a new tab – Ctrl + T
- Close the current tab – Ctrl + W
- Cycle through tabs – Ctrl + Tab
- Refresh the current page – f5
- Switch to Full Screen mode and back – f11
- Place the cursor in the address bar or highlight the address bar contents – f6
Here are some more Chrome tricks for shortcuts.
Master Tab Management
Wrangling with tabs is common when you’re browsing. Save yourself unnecessary effort by managing tabs like a pro. To begin with, program search results to open in a new tab automatically. You can do this from the settings of your default search engine.
If you use Google, click on the gear icon near the top right of the search results page, and select Search Settings from the dropdown that appears. Navigate to Where results open and check the box to open the selected search result in a new window. The text is misleading, as the result opens in a new tab instead.
If you use a service frequently, chances are that you have installed its Chrome app for ease of use. Clear up some precious browser space by setting up Chrome apps to open as pinned tabs automatically. To do this, navigate to the Apps section, right-click on an app icon, and click on Open as Pinned Tab.
If your browser is reeling under tab overload, install Layout Manager to bring things under control, but first read Saikat’s overview of the Layout Manager extension. If you’re a Firefox user, try this minimalistic approach to tab management.
Know Your Search Engine Better
I spent years using Google search in the most basic way possible, without using filters or advanced keyword tricks to find things faster. When I switched to DuckDuckGo, I explored it in detail. I was surprised to find many useful features, such as !bang, which, for example, allows me to search MakeUseOf from the address bar by appending !makeuseof to my search query. This Google alternative also has various other tricks up its sleeve. I wish I had taken similar advantage of Google’s search capabilities before.
Web search is one of the most important aspects of our online activity. Whether you use Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, or any other search engine, learn what it is capable of so you can search smarter. Search engines provide various tools to bring you more relevant results, fast. They also make quick work of answering common queries like meanings, conversions, the weather, geographical location, stock prices, etc., if you know what to type into the search bar. As a sample, here are eight ways Google simplifies Web search.
Instead of bookmarking things at random and ending up with a messy set of unrelated links, have a system in place for managing your bookmarks. Ctrl+D is your friend for bookmarking pages quickly. If you prefer a third-party app, Pocket is among the most popular options available, and with the redesigned Pocket interface, it has only become better.
Saved.io is another interesting way to save content for later. After you sign up for the service, whenever you want to save a link, prefix the url with saved.io/. The link gets saved to the cloud and can be accessed from anywhere without the need to install any add-on. Inserting listname.saved.io/ before the url automatically creates a new list and saves the current url to it.
While extensions come in handy, they’re often distracting, especially the busy ones like social media extensions and email notifiers. The solution to get rid of this visual and mental clutter is to hide the extensions from view. In Chrome, you can do this by right-clicking on the extension icon where it rests next to the Omnibar, and selecting Hide Button from the subsequent dropdown menu.
Better yet, disable all those extensions that you use infrequently. If you want to display the extensions or enable them again, you can do so from the Extensions page, which is accessible by typing in chrome://extensions/ in the omni bar.
In older versions of Firefox, you could drag all the extensions to a separate toolbar, and hide and display the toolbar as and when required. But that’s no longer possible by default with the latest release, Firefox 29. Thankfully, it is possible if you restore the classic Firefox theme.
The steps outlined here might seem too simple to make a difference, but from my experience, they really do. Browsing is at the heart of our digital experience. Making it as efficient and comfortable as possible is just good sense, and if you earn a living from the Web, it’s a must.
Which tricks do you use to speed up your browsing? Let us know in the comments.