Justin Li


Pimpin' Firefox

2007-12-07

Er... yeah.

I use a fairly customized version of Firefox, and since I recently accidentally deleted my profile and had to reset everything, I figured I would document what I do to make Firefox really mine.

There are several layers of things I do. The first resides in the preferences section. I disable everything under advanced Javascript, set the default font to Arial 11px, and use 32 MB for my cache.

Next up are the about:config values. Since I'm almost always connected to a high speed network, wired or not, I turn up the maximum number of connections Firefox can establish. There are things which deal with the delay before submenus pop out as well. The values I change are listed below.

The most advance stuff I do are stored in userChrome.css. This modifies how Firefox looks; whereas Firefox has three different toolbars by default (menus, navigation, and bookmarks), I only have one. Right clicking on a toolbar allows you to customize them, so I have my back and forward buttons, my address bar, and my search bar all up in the menu toolbar, then uncheck the navigation and bookmarks bars for display. The following CSS maximizes the space of the address bar by getting rid of a few menus and minimizing the search.

/* set default namespace to XUL */@namespace url("http://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul");#go-menu, #bookmarks-menu, #helpMenu, .toolbarbutton-menubutton-dropmarker,   #go-button-stack, .searchbar-engine-button, .search-go-button-stack, #throbber-box {display:none !important;}#search-container, #searchbar {max-width:1px !important;min-width:1px !important;width:1px !important;}

This little snippet of styling gets ride of the History, Bookmarks, and Help menus, the drop down menu button for back and foward, the go button at the right of the address bar, the search engine selection button, the go button at the right of the search box, and finally the "throbber", the thing that "rotates" when the page is loading. That was the first line. The second line sets (what is remaining of) the search box to have a width of 1 - effectively invisible.

Here's the rationale behind all the changes:

The minimization of the search bar means I get to see more of the address bar. How do I search then? Well, I have a set of special bookmarks, with keywords assigned to them. They are listed below with the URL in angled brackets and the keyword in parenthesis:

Those of us who have used Opera before will know how these work. All I have to do is type "g linux firefox" in the address bar, and Firefox will automatically insert "linux firefox" into the URL of the bookmark and go to the resulting address. Similarly, I can get the Wikipedia Firefox page by doing "w firefox". By doing this, I'm using the address bar as my search bar, together with the ability to change search engines as needed.

Finally, I use a small number of extensions for Firefox. The one I've used for the longest is the Mouse Gesture extension from Optimoz Team. Again something borrowed from Opera, this allows me to go back and forward, reload a page, open and close tabs, duplicate tabs, and go back to my home page with a mouse movement. The gestures I have set up are:

I also disable rocker gestures and turn off diagonal movement, as that makes my gestures harder to perform.

The other two extensions I use are both recent discoveries. Better Gmail 2 from LifeHacker.com extends the Gmail interface. I particularly like the setting to display message details by default and the extra keyboard shortcuts for labeling messages and going to those labels, although the latter screws up the 'g + c' shortcut to go to Contacts. The last extension is Firebug from Joe Hewitt, which not only duplicates the Javascript Console function in Firefox, but also allows real time editing of HTML, CSS and Javascript, and shows a very useful picture of the position and size of an HTML node is, separating the margin, the padding, the border, and the actual content. In other words, the perfect webpage debugger.

The result of all this customization is I have a version of Firefox which I can call my own.

comments powered by Disqus