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15 must-have Firefox tricks

15 must-have Firefox tricks

Preston Gralla reveals how to tweak, hack and bend Firefox to your will

Note that not all Web servers can handle pipelining. If for some reason, you find that your performance suffers with it turned on, reverse the above steps to turn it off.

4. Use keywords to speed up bookmarks

Visiting your favorite sites using Firefox's bookmarks is far too much of a chore -- do you really want to do all that mousing around? Instead, you can use keywords to instantly jump to any site you've bookmarked. To do it, after you bookmark a site, right-click on the bookmark, select Properties, type in a short keyword (or even just a letter or two) in the keyword field and click OK. Now, to visit the site, type in the keyword in Firefox's address bar, and you'll jump straight to the site.

5. Hack the Firefox interface with userChrome.css

If you want to do some serious hacking to the Firefox interface, you're going to have to get your hands dirty and edit a file called userChrome.css. This file is a cascading style sheet and contains instructions on how the Firefox interface should display.

Before you can edit the file, though, you need to create it, because by default, Firefox doesn't create one for you. You'll need to take an existing .css file, and rename it to userChrome.css. In Windows Vista, go to C:\Users\Your Name\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default\chrome, where Your Name is your account name, and the .xxxxxxxx is a random selection of eight characters.

In Windows XP, go to C:\Documents and Settings\Your Name\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\default.xxxxxxxx\chrome, where Your Name is your XP account name, and the .xxxxxxxx will be a random selection of characters. In the folder, you'll find a file called userChrome-example.css. Rename that userChrome.css, and you'll be ready to start editing.

Note: The Application Data folder may not be visible to you unless you have checked the option to display hidden files and folders. To do this from a folder window, click on Tools and select Folder Options, then click on View, then select the radio button for Show hidden files and folders.

The userChrome-example.css file is a plain-text file, so you'll edit it with a text editor such as Notepad or an alternative. As you'll see in the following tricks, you'll add code and text to the userChrome.css file in order to change the Firefox interface.

It's a good idea, when inserting the code, to include a reminder so that later you remember what that code does. The file userChrome.css will ignore your reminder and won't try to interpret it as code. To create a reminder, surround your comments with /* to begin and */ to end, like this:

/* This is a comment */

The userChrome.css file will ignore everything inside the /* and */.

With that background under your belt, it's time to teach Firefox some new tricks.

6. Put your own graphic on the Firefox tool bar

If you don't like the plain background of Firefox's tool bar, don't worry -- you can put your own graphic there. Type the following into the userChrome.css file and put the graphic that you want to use, background.gif, in the same directory as userChrome.css. The graphic can be any name and any type of image file supported by Firefox.

Here's the code to use:

 
/* Change the toolbar graphic */
menubar, toolbox, toolbar, .tabbrowser-tabs {
background-image: url("background.gif") !important;
background-color: none !important;
}

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