Customizing Firefox


Browsing with Firefox

Firefox makes browsing the web quick and easy. In this lesson, we'll talk about navigating to websites in Firefox. You'll also learn how use tabs, access your browsing history, and view your downloads.

If you don't have much experience using a web browser, you may want to review our lesson on Using a Web Browser, which covers the basic points of Internet browsing in more detail.

Watch the video below to learn the basics of browsing with Firefox.

                                                        Browsing with Firefox

To navigate to a website:

  1. Enter a web address—also known as a URL—into the address bar, then press Enter.
browse_address_url
browse_address_url

The website will appear.

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browse_address_done1

To search the web:

Firefox makes it easy to search the Web for the information you need. Rather than navigating to a search engine like Google or Bing, you can perform a Web search directly from the search box.

  1. In the search box to the right of the address bar, type a search term, then press Enter or click the Search icon.
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browse_search_term

The search results will appear.

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browse_search_results2

You can click the magnifying glass icon to select a different search engine, or click Change Search Settings to add or remove search engines.

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browse_search_select

Navigating in Firefox

Firefox uses four main buttons for navigation: the Back, Forward, Refresh, and Home buttons.

  • The Back button allows you to move back through pages you have recently viewed. Click and hold the Back button to see your recent history.
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browse_nav_back1

When you click the Back button, the Forward button will appear next to it. You can use it to navigate forward in your recent history.

browse_nav_forward
browse_nav_forward

The Refresh button will reload the current page. If a website stops working, try using the Refresh button. When a website is loading, the Refresh button will temporarily become the Stop button, which you can click to stop a webpage from loading.

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browse_nav_reload1

Clicking the Home button will take you directly to your homepage.

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browse_nav_home

By default, the Home button will navigate to the Firefox start page. Review our lesson on Customizing Firefox to learn how to choose your own homepage.

Windows and tabs

Like all browsers, Firefox allows you to open new windows to view different pages. Firefox also allows you to open multiple websites in the same window using tabs. Tabs are usually more convenient than opening several windows at the same time.

To open a new window:

  1. Click the menu button in the top-right corner of the browser, then select New Window. Alternatively, press Ctrl+N on your keyboard.
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browse_window_new1

The new window will appear.

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browse_window_done1

To open a new tab:

  1. Click the plus sign (+) to the right of the open tab. Alternatively, press Ctrl+T on your keyboard.
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browse_nav_new_tab

The new tab will appear. Type an address and press Enter to navigate to a new page.

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browse_tab_go

The website will appear in the new tab.

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browse_tab_done

Whenever you open a new tab, the New Tab page will appear. The New Tab page will show thumbnails of the websites you visit most frequently. You can click any thumbnail to navigate to that page.

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browse_new_tab_page1

To switch between tabs:

  1. Click any tab that is not currently selected.
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browse_tab_select

The tab will be selected.

browse_tab_select_done
browse_tab_select_done

You can also press Ctrl+Tab on your keyboard to switch between open tabs.

To close a tab:

  • To close a tab, hover the mouse over any tab and click the Close tab button. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl+W on your keyboard to close the current tab.
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browse_tab_close

To open a link in a new tab:

Tabs can also make it easier to browse the web. If you find a link to a website, you can open that link in a new tab. This allows you to open the site without losing your place on the original page.

  1. Right-click the link you want to open, and select Open Link in New Tab from the drop-down menu. Alternatively, hover the mouse over the link, then press the scroll wheel on your mouse.
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browse_tab_link_open

The website will open in a new tab.

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browse_tab_link_opened

Click the tab to view the website.

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browse_tab_link_done1

Managing tabs

Tabs can be moved, pulled in and out of windows, and pinned into place for easy access.

To move tabs:

  1. Click and drag the tab you want to move.
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browse_tab_move_start1

Release the mouse when you have moved the tab to the desired position.

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browse_tab_move_done

To pull tabs:

If you want to view two tabs at the same time, it's easy to pull a tab to its own window.

  1. Click and drag the tab you want to pull out of the window. A transparent preview of the new window will appear.
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browse_tab_pull_start

Release the mouse. The tab will now appear in its own window.

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browse_tab_pull_done

To put a tab back into a window, click and drag the tab over the desired window. Release the mouse when a small arrow appears on the tab bar.

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browse_tab_pull_replace

To pin tabs:

If there are some pages you use every time you open your browser, like your email or calendar, you might consider pinning the tab. Pinned tabs will open automatically whenever you start Firefox, making your favorite pages easy to access.

  1. Right-click the desired tab, then select Pin Tab from the drop-down menu.
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browse_pin_select1

The pinned tab will appear as a smaller tab in the top-left corner of the browser.

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browse_pin_pinned

To unpin a tab, right-click it, then select Unpin Tab from the drop-down menu.

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browse_pin_unpinned

Browsing history

Like all browsers, Firefox keeps a record of the websites you visit, which is known as your browsing history. Firefox allows you to search your history to find a previously viewed page and delete your history for the sake of privacy.

To view your browsing history:

  1. Click the menu button in the top-right corner of the browser, select History, then select Show All History.
browse_history_show
browse_history_show

The Library will appear in a new window with your recent browsing history. The history includes every site you've viewed in the last week. The list is sorted by date, so the most recent history appears at the top of the page. If you want to return to a website, simply double-click the link.

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browse_history_all

If you can't remember the exact address or name of a webpage you've visited before, you can try searching the history. Enter a search term or website into the search bar. A list of results will appear automatically.

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browse_history_search

Review our lesson on Firefox Security and Privacy to learn how to delete your browser history.

Downloading files

Firefox can display many different types of documents, media, and other files, including PDF and MP3 files. But there may be times when you'll want to access a file outside of the browser. To do this, you'll need to download the file directly to your computer.

For example, let's say you need to complete and print a form you find online. You could download it to your computer, then open it with the appropriate program (such as Microsoft Word) to edit it.

To download a file:

If you click a link to a file, it may download automatically. However, depending on the file type, it may just open within the browser. To prevent a file from opening in Firefox, you can use Save Link As to download it to your computer.

  1. Right-click the file you want to download, then select Save Link As...
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browse_download_link

A dialog box will appear. Select the location where you want to save the file, enter a file name, and click Save. Your Downloads folder will be selected by default.

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browse_download_save

The file will begin downloading, and the download progress will appear in the top-right corner of the browser under the Downloads button. When the download is complete, click the file to open it.

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browse_download_open

For various reasons, many websites do not allow you to download content. For example, YouTube does not offer a way to download its videos.

To access your downloads:

Firefox makes it easy to view and manage all of your downloads.

  1. Click the Downloads button, then select Show All Downloads.
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browse_download_view_all

The Library will appear in a new window with a list of all of your downloaded files. From here, you can open previously downloaded files, search for downloads, and clear your list of downloads.

browse_download_library
browse_download_library

 

Customizing Firefox

If you want your browser to feel more personal and unique, it's easy to customize Firefox. In this lesson, we'll talk about the different ways you can modify Firefox, including the startup options and add-ons, which allow you to install extensions and themes to Firefox.

Watch the video below to learn the basics of customizing Firefox.

                                                        Customizing Firefox

Choosing your startup options

To choose a homepage:

By default, Firefox will show the Firefox start page whenever you start the browser. If you'd like to see a specific website every time you open your browser, like a news site or weather forecast, you can set that site as your homepage.

  1. Click the menu button in the top-right corner of the browser, then select Options.
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custom_home_options

An Options tab will open. Type the desired web address into the Home Page: field. In our example, we'll type www.weather.com.

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custom_home_choose

The homepage will appear whenever you start Firefox. Click the Home button to visit your homepage at any time.

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custom_home_done

To set Firefox as the default browser:

If you want to use Firefox as your only web browser, you can set it as the default browser on your computer. If you click a link in another program on your computer, like an email client, it will open in Firefox.

  1. Click the menu button in the top-right corner of the browser and select Options.
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custom_home_options

Select Make Default. Any link you open on your computer will now open in Firefox.

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custom_default

Firefox add-ons

Add-ons can add different functionality to Firefox. For example, you can install different extensions and themes, which can make Firefox even more powerful and personal.

To install an extension:

Extensions can add additional features to the browser. For example, they can block advertisements, share a page with your social network, and much more.

  1. Click the menu button in the top-right corner of the browser, then select Add-ons.
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custom_apps_addons

The Add-ons Manager will appear in a new tab. Scroll down to view several popular add-ons. You can also search for an extension. Select Extensions in the menu on the left. In the search bar on the right, you can search for various add-ons. In our example, we'll search for an extension that can block advertisements.

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custom_add_search

A list of results will appear. Locate the extension you would like to use and click Install now to add it. The extension will be installed. Some extensions will add buttons to the toolbar, while others will work in the background.

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custom_extension_download

It's important to note that extensions are not necessarily created or approved by Mozilla Firefox. Many are created by third-party providers or even individual users, so they may not always be safe to install.

To install a theme:

Themes allow you to change the appearance of the browser to suit your personality. Themes can add new colors and background pictures to the Firefox window. We recommend using the default theme because your tabs can become difficult to read with certain themes.

  1. Click the menu button in the top-right corner of the browser, then select Add-ons. The Add-ons Manager will appear.
  2. Several themes are featured in the Add-ons Manager. Click the switch next to them to install the theme.
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custom_theme_install

If you want to see more themes, click See more add-ons! at the bottom of the page.

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custom_themes_more

A new Add-ons page will appear. Click the Themes button at the top. This will show you all available themes.

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custome_themes_done

Managing add-ons

If you don't want to keep an extension or theme, the Add-ons Manager allows you to disable and even remove your add-ons from Firefox.

To manage add-ons:

  1. Click the menu button in the top-right corner of the browser, then select Add-ons. The Add-ons Manager will appear.
  2. Click Extensions to see your installed extensions. From here, they can be temporarily disabled or removed.
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custom_manage_extensions

Click Appearance to see your installed themes. From here, they can be temporarily disabled or removed.

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custom_add_appearance