The most Essential Keyboard Shortcuts for Firefox

Mark O'Neill 18-03-2008

Essential Firefox Shortcuts In previous articles, we looked at the essential shortcuts for Gmail Essential Shortcuts to Browse through Gmail Faster Read More , Google Reader Unofficial Guide To Feedly: Better Than Google Reader Do you hunger for the best desktop and mobile RSS reader ever made? For both the hungry and the hopeful, Feedly satisfies. Read More and Google Calendar The Essential Keyboard Shortcuts to Tame your Google Calendar Read More . Today, we’re going to look at the king of the internet – Firefox.


Instead of just wildly throwing a list of shortcuts at you, I’m going to give you scenarios where you may use them and you can then see how you can easily remember them. I’ll also only give you what I think are the really important ones, the ones I use on a daily basis to whizz my way around the Fox.

Obviously though not everything in Firefox can be accomplished with a keyboard shortcut. Installing extensions & scripts, choosing favourites and so forth requires the mouse. But basic navigation and moving around the net can be done solely with the keyboard and that in itself can save you a lot of time each day.

    So upon opening your browser, you’ll want to open a tab. That’s CTRL + T. Your cursor is already in the address bar. Go ahead and type the address. Once you’re on the webpage in question, use the up and down arrow keys to scroll up and down the page.

    Like the page? CTRL + D it then to bookmark it. Or CTRL + P it to send it to the printer.

    Finished with the page? CTRL + W it to shut down the tab. Move along. Nothing to see here people.

    Or the page could be annoying you. It may not be loading fast enough so hit the ESC button to stop it loading. Then CTRL + R to refresh the page. Still not loading properly? Then give up. Press CTRL + W to close down the tab. Move on to the next site.

    If you work on those shortcuts alone and practice until you can go really fast, you will surprise yourself at how fast you can open and close tabs, access, refresh and bookmark sites. This can make a really big difference overall in your browsing habits.

    To open a link on a webpage, use the TAB key and you’ll see each link being slightly highlighted as you hit the tab key :


    To open that link, just press CTRL + ENTER and it will open in either a new tab or new window (depending on your Firefox configuration). But on the subject of navigating page links with keyboard shortcuts, I also recently wrote about a Firefox shortcut you can use which I use a lot every day. Check it out.

    By this point, you’re probably accumulating a lot of open tabs so let’s now look at some tab navigation shortcuts.

    (1) CTRL + the TAB key lets you jump forwards from tab to tab.

    (2) CTRL + SHIFT + TAB lets you jump backwards from tab to tab.

    (3) But the coolest one is when you can go directly to a tab by assigning it a number. So the first tab on the far left is tab number one while the eighth tab from the left is tab number eight. So to go to the first tab on the far left, just press CTRL + 1. To go to the eighth from the left, just do CTRL + 8. You’ll be taken directly there. The only limit to this is that after 9, it becomes impossible to do this shortcut as CTRL + 10 becomes impossible to do as Firefox reacts immediately after you hit the 1 key by taking you to the first tab. So if you have more than 9 tabs, this shortcut is out.

As I’ve said before, I know there are a huge number of other Firefox shortcuts so please don’t assault me in the comments if I have missed out your pet favourite. The whole point of these posts is to take what I consider to be the most important shortcuts so that you can learn those ones first. Only when you have mastered the basic important ones can you then move on and learn the others. You have to be able to learn to walk before you can run!

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  1. yateesh
    July 16, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    thanks for taking out the time to write this tutorial.
    works charm for a novice & pro alike
    firefox is a sweetheart

  2. meh
    July 9, 2009 at 5:36 am

    That's not good enough, I also need an shortcut to shuffle the TABS around, a practical way to directly navigate links a way Opera does. Personally I prefer Opera mouseless navigation scheme, but since Firefox has countless more practical add-ons, i'll stick to firefox.

  3. Fina
    June 10, 2009 at 6:15 am

    great list and great comments after
    I have nothing to add tho, as all the ones I use and kno are listed

  4. loveprone
    October 14, 2008 at 6:23 am

    A good explanation of typical and handy keyboard shortcuts for Firefox.

    It's good to see that short list has been extended with a bulky one by the readers.

    Thank you for this article.

  5. Gary Katsevman
    March 20, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    ctrl-9, unlike the other 8 buttons, takes you to the right most tab, not the 9th tab.

    also, if you press ctrl-k to go to the search bar, but dont want to override your current tab with your search just press alt-enter instead of enter and it will open in a new tab. the same with the url bar. alt-enter will open your url in a new page, and you can combine it with ctrl-alt-enter which will open up the url in a new tab while wrapping the text in the url with a www. and .com.


    pressing the forward slash '/' will do a quick search, while ctrl-f does an inline search.

  6. Brad McArthur
    March 20, 2008 at 5:08 am

    In LInux,
    Alt 1 to go to tab 1, alt 2 to go to tab 2 - instead of control

  7. Jim
    March 19, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    / = Quickfind (If you're looking for links its easy to use Quickfind and ENTER to follow a link)
    Ctrl + H = History Sidebar (Ctrl + H Then start typing is a great way to find content you recently browsed but didn't bookmark)

  8. Mackenzie Morgan
    March 19, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Just like in less, more, most, vi/vim, and manpages, a simple / will open a quicksearch.

  9. Renee
    March 19, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    command + L : moves cursor to the address bar
    command + K : moves cursor to the search bar
    are my faves!!

    ctrl + Shift + t will most likely making it's way up to the top of my faves though. I've never used that before...soooo handy! I'm a compulsive tab closer and I piss myself off.

  10. ajit
    March 19, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Ooops!! I closed that tab by mistake, but Firefox has a shortcut for that too :)

    CTRL + SHIFT + t reopens the last closed tab and you can use this multiple times as well.

    • Ryan
      March 19, 2008 at 3:04 pm

      ctrl + f12 does the same thing

    • Aibek
      March 19, 2008 at 8:06 pm

      'CTRL + SHIFT + t '

      I always forget that one.

  11. Luke
    March 19, 2008 at 11:54 am

    on a mac.

    command + click : opens a link in a new tab
    command + L : moves cursor to the address bar
    command + K : moves cursor to the search bar
    comand + F : search the page

    More Shortcuts at:

  12. PR
    March 19, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Re (3): Silly question but how do you assign a number to a tab?

    • Mark O'Neill
      March 19, 2008 at 10:47 am

      Hi - you don't actually assign a number. The "number" of the tab depends on its position in your browser. So as I said in the article, the tab on the far left is tab number one because it is the first tab on the left. The second tab from the left is tab number two because it is the second tab from the left and so on. So if you do CTRL + 2, you're telling Firefox to take you to the second tab from the left. If you do CTRL + 9, you're telling Firefox to take you to the ninth tab from the left and so on.

      I think there is an extension out there that puts numbers on your tabs to make it easier for you. But I've never seen the need for it.

      • PR
        March 19, 2008 at 12:38 pm

        Aha - on a Mac (at least on mine), it's CMD-1 etc, not CTRL. Cool tip, thanks.

  13. Freddy
    March 19, 2008 at 7:22 am

    You hit the main tabs, I think. I also use ctrl + and ctrl - to increase/decrease font sizes when necessary (yeah, I'm loosing my vision big time :s)

    Good stuff.

  14. Norm
    March 19, 2008 at 12:38 am

    - ctrl+k : go directly to that search toolbar at the top right.. makes google searches reall faster..

    - ctrl+t, ctrl+k, type your keyword, press enter, ctrl+tab.. and you are back at your working tab.. let the google search wait there for your attention..

    - there are some default windows shortcuts firefox recognizes also.. F5 is refresh.. works almost everywhere in windows too.. F6 is jump between data fields shortcut.. tap F6 a couple of times to see what it does.. I use it a lot when I'm browsing a site and I want to enter a new URL at the address bar, navigate that tab away from that page.. I press F6, that takes me directly to the address bar, then I type in the URL.

    not really a shortcut but just a suggestion, if you have one of those mice where you have 2-3 side buttons, make one of them (mine is on the left) your back button.. combined with a basic knowledge of shortcuts and that back button, you surf faster..

    • Aibek
      March 19, 2008 at 8:04 pm

      Thanks for 'CTRL+K', I really need this one.

      I am also surprised no one mentioned 'Ctrl+F'. Native inline search capability is one of those things that made Firefox stand out. ;-)

  15. Gary Katsevman
    March 19, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Actually, CTRL-9 if you have multiple tabs open always takes you to the right most tab you have open, and this could be useful.

  16. Avinash
    March 18, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    Very nicely explained and surely makes web browsing fast.

  17. Adam
    March 18, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Copy+Paste. Love it