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Optimizing Firefox (Best Picks: Shortcuts, Speedups, Extensions)

Aibek Esengulov 06-04-2007

Optimizing Firefox (Best Picks: Shortcuts, Speedups, Extensions) firefox tipsOptimizing Firefox: Bunch of (1) worth noting keyboard shortcuts, (2) cool speedup tweaks and (3) usability centered extensions.


PART1: Cool Shortcuts and Tips

    • Mouse Scroll Button – did you know that clicking on a link with a mouse scroll button opens it in a new tab.
    • Slash (/) – better alternative to ‘Ctrl+F’ shortcut that’s used for within page search. Cool part about it is that you don’t have to close it, it disappears on its own. (Use ‘F3’ for next and ‘SHIFT + F3’ for previous)
    • Apostrophe (‘) – similar to the “/” shortcut but this one searches only among page’s hyperlinks.
  • How To login without visiting the login page in firefox [read it on]
  • Open Search Results In New Tab [via:] – by default when you search from the firefox toolbar, search results displayed within the currently active tab. This tip shows how to change that and let them launch them in a new tab [HowTo: type ‘about:config’ in the URL box -> find ‘’ -> double click it to change the value to ‘true’]
  • Stop Window Resizing [via] – sometimes you may stumble upon annoying websites that resize your browser window. Here is how to ensure that your window size always stays the same. [HowTo: Go to Tools(or ‘Edit’ for OS X and Linux users) -> Preferences -> Content -> click ‘Advanced’ to the right of ‘Enable Javascript’ -> uncheck ‘Move or Resize Existing Windows’]
  • Assign Keywords to your Bookmarks – yet another cool firefox feature that lets you assign a desired keyword to any of your bookmarks, and later use it in the address bar as a shortcut to your bookmark. [HowTo: right-click on the bookmark -> Properties -> navigate to the ‘Keyword’ field and enter desired(easy-to-remember) keyword -> OK]
  • How to work with groups of tabs in Firefox ( – quick rundown on how to bookmark a group of open tabs, launch a folder full of bookmarks in tabs, and set a group of tabs as your Firefox home page.

PART2: Speedup Tweaks

1. Moving Firefox to your hard drive when it’s minimized [via] – this little fix will move Firefox to your hard drive when you minimize it, as a result it will occupy much less of your RAM while it stays minimized. Cool part about it is that you won’t experience any delays when it’s maximized back.

  • [HowTo: type ‘about:config’ in the URL box -> Right Click in the page, select New and then Boolean -> type in: config.trim_on_minimize and press Enter – > double click to select ‘True’]

2. Stop PDFs from freezing Firefox [via]- you have probably experienced this before, whenever you click on a link pointing to a PDF file, firefox freezes for about a minute before it responds correctly. In some cases it may even crash. Following tip shows how to fix this.

  • [HowTo: install PDF Download extension -> Restart FF -> go to Tools -> Add-ons, -> PDF Download and select Options -> in ‘General’ tab check the ‘Open PDF box’ than navigate to ‘PDF opening’ and check the ‘Use OS default viewer’ box -> Click OK]

3. Back-Forward cache [via ] – Firefox has a special “Back-Forward cache” setting which makes recently visited pages load faster. Based on the amount of RAM, fiirefox decides how many of recently visited pages to keep in cache (i.e. 5 if it’s 512 MB, 8 if it’s 1GB …). If you don’t often revisit recently visited pages (< 5 pages ago), then you can reduce that number to somewhere between 0 and 2.

  • [HowTo: type ‘about:config’ in the URL box -> browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers -> double click and change the default “-1” value to 0 or something little bigger i.e. 1 or 2]

4. Fetch only what you click [via] – being a smart browser, Firefox has a feature that downloads pages from links it thinks you may click on viewed pages, i.e. top results on Google search. This results in extra bandwidth, CPU usage and store history for web pages you never viewed. To fix this

  • [HowTo: type ‘about:config’ in the URL box -> double click ‘network.prefetch-next’ to set it to ‘false’]

5. Disable Memory Leaking Extensions [sources: | ] – quite a few of firefox extensions leak memory resulting in browser slowdown. This maybe due to a poor design or due to conflicts with other installed extensions. The two above mentioned sources list extensions that are known to have problems, along with recommended workarounds.

PART3: Firefox Extensions

Below I list a group of handy addons which make-up for missing firefox features. For specific extension roundups, i.e ‘top 10 for productivity’ or ‘top 20 for web developers’, etc. check out earlier post about Top 16 ‘Firefox extensions’ links ever published.


1. ColorfulTabs – colors tabs into different colors, which makes it a lot easier to distinguish between multiple tabs.

Optimizing Firefox (Best Picks: Shortcuts, Speedups, Extensions) colorful extension

2. Firefox Extension Backup – handy addon that lets automatically back up your extensions, themes, bookmarks, preferences, passwords, cookies… or even backup/restore your entire profile.

Optimizing Firefox (Best Picks: Shortcuts, Speedups, Extensions) backup extension


3. Amazing Webpage Emailer [No Longer Available] – lets you easily email any web page to anyone, including web pages that are password-protected / session-specific / require registration / have framesets.

4. HistorySubmenus – takes your History bar to the next level by adding a submenu for each day along with a list of all sites visited on that day (today, yesterday, 2-3-4 days ago…)

Optimizing Firefox (Best Picks: Shortcuts, Speedups, Extensions) history submenus

5. Tab Mix Plus – extremely useful extension that adds lots new features to Firefox’s tab browsing capabilities: duplicating tabs, controlling tab focus, tab clicking options, undo closed tabs/windows, session manager with crash recovery and more


6. OpenSearch [No Longer Available] – if your favorite website has search capabilities (eg. :-) ), then this slim addon can add it to your search toolbar for quick search access. Say you need a quick lookup for free file sharing(or any other web tool) then having makeuseof among one of your search engines should do the job

7. FaviconizeTab – This extension adds a new “FaviconizeTab” option to the context menu of the tab. When it is clicked, The width of the tab becomes small up to the size of favicon. Great if you keep a lot of tabs open like me

Optimizing Firefox (Best Picks: Shortcuts, Speedups, Extensions) faviconize tab

8. Clear Cache Button – adds ‘clear cache’ button to your toolbar

For more Firefox tips and tricks, don’t forget to check out our MUO Firefox manual The User's Guide to Firefox Does your current browser have advanced security options? Does it sync your settings across devices? Can you manage your tabs easily? These are all things Firefox can do for you. Read More !

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  1. hedfones
    September 1, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Maybe I'm totally missing something but the "config.trim_on_minimize" key that was suggested for adding doesn't seem to change the amount of RAM Firefox uses on my machine. Of course this was published back in the middle of 2007 and now we're using Firefox 3.51 so that may not work anymore...

    • hedfones
      September 1, 2009 at 3:13 pm

      I just realized that other users have also reported that Firefox 3.0+ doesn't seem to doing anything with that new key.

  2. Shawn
    May 12, 2009 at 7:02 am

    Echoing @NDBareBear:

    Part 2, Item 5 — Your link contains a leading "t" in the target URL.

    Great article, thanks.

  3. Denver SEO
    December 27, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    You just gave me a year of my life back with the clear cache button. Hitting tools, clear private data, unchecking boxes, man that was getting old.

  4. NDBareBear
    March 13, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    Your link to in part 2 Number 5 has a "t" prior to the 'http:...' making the link invalid

  5. raffee
    October 14, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Any way to not switch focus to new tab when using scroll button to open in a tab?

    • Aibek
      October 14, 2007 at 3:18 pm

      @ raffee

      Tools -> Options -> Tabs -> 'New pages should be opened in a new tabs'

  6. Aibek
    April 29, 2007 at 7:33 pm

    don't forget to check out greasemonkey addons, that's one of my favorite things about firefox.

  7. hawk
    April 29, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Cool site.i love all the applications firefox has.

  8. Dawn
    April 20, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    This has been a great site . . .tons of useful stuff for beginners as well as seasoned users of Firefox. I use it on laptop and put a version on U3 jump drive.

  9. Aibek
    April 13, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    I am not sure about how FF will react to that... But this whole thing sounds quite interesting. If I had linux here, I would give it a try.

  10. YodaYid
    April 11, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    Re trim_on_minimize: will that work in a multi-desktop environment like Linux? For example, if I have FF in desktop 1 and I go to desktop 2, will FF (or KDE or Gnome or whatever) be smart enough to act as if it's minimized? This question goes well beyond FF I suppose...

  11. earle
    April 10, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    Adrian (Date: April 10, 2007, 2:51 pm)

    I really appreciate the list of Firefox optimisation tips, being a firefox evangenist and devotee they really appeal to me.
    I have been trying to find a way of increasing the number of Folders that apper in the “Create in” list whan you bookmark a page but failed miserably. Five just doesn’t do it for me. Any ideas?

    there should be an arrow next to create in bookmarks down arrow. little box all bu itself with a down pointing arrow. click that and ALL your folders are revealed.
    XP home,firefox 3.03a

  12. Aibek
    April 10, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Adrian thanks for the wonderful idea, unfortunately could not find anything that would let you expand the number of items. I tried modifying 'browser.bookmarks.max_backups' option but later realized that it has a different purpose.

  13. Adrian
    April 10, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    I really appreciate the list of Firefox optimisation tips, being a firefox evangenist and devotee they really appeal to me.
    I have been trying to find a way of increasing the number of Folders that apper in the "Create in" list whan you bookmark a page but failed miserably. Five just doesn't do it for me. Any ideas?

  14. Aibek
    April 9, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    Just would like to add some clarity: 'foxit reader' isn't an alternative to part 2.2 but rather a quicker alternative to Adobe Acrobat. However, if you install and set it to your default viewer for .pdf files then overall time to launch PDF files (both from web or you local drive) should be considerably smaller.

  15. jonah
    April 9, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    Part 2-2. Stop PDFs from freezing Firefox. a much better option is: go to -> download foxit reader -> ??? -> profit

  16. Aibek
    April 8, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    wow, had no idea. Nice tip

  17. Covarr
    April 8, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    You can middle (scroll-button) click more than just links for new tabs. You can also click bookmarks, the back and forward buttons, the home button, etc. In addition, you can middle-click the magnifying glass icon (to the left of the search box) in order to open search results in a new tab.