Firefox is worth a go if you want to browse the internet with a program that is… Free. Secure. Fast. Customizable.
Even though Firefox is only in it’s 1.0 Preview Release, it is not perfect but it’s better than IE, and a much better browser for you to use.
So you’re browsing in IE. You want to open up another site, but keep the current one open too. So you have to open a new window. And then you might need another… and another. And suddenly your taskbar is full of skinny wee boxes that you can’t read, because everything’s scrunched up so tight.
In Firefox (as with many other IE-alternative browsers) you can choose either to browse in a new window… or a new tab. That means if you need to look at 4 different sites, you can do so from the same window, kind of like moving between tabbed worksheets in the same Excel workbook. It keeps your taskbar free from clutter, and it helps you move between sites with greater ease.
Let the extensions expand your browsing experience, grasshopper
Think of getting Firefox not as using just another browser, but as getting a factory-simple car that you can trick out to your heart’s delight. Extensions are my favorite Firefox feature — you can pick and choose downloadable extensions to customize your browser to how you surf and the functionality you want. Downloads are quick, and you can find extensions, learn about them, and download what you want here. (Update for that — many extensions have not yet been updated in Texturizer for 1.0 compatibility. Use the A-Z Firefox Extensions in The Extension Mirror instead.)
Here’s a list of some of my favorite extensions. I use them every day. They make my browsing easier, more efficient and a hell of a lot more fun. I would now hate browsing without:
- Add Bookmark here
- Paste and Go (when pasting a web address into the bar, this function loads the site too, instead of you having to hit the Enter key or the Go button)
- Tabbrowser extensions (adds different functionality for tab browsing. Fun for some, ridiculous anal sense of control nonsense for others)
- Dict (highlight a word, right-click, picked "Define" and a popup will give you a dictionary definition)
- View this page in IE (hey, it still comes in handy, and some sites are not yet optimized for Firefox)
- Web Developer Toolbar (for web geeks like me — this bar allows me to check stylesheets, find W3C specs easily, view the dimensions for all images on a page, resize my browser so I can view a page that way it’d look in other resolutions, you name it. I’ll give up this toolbar only when they pry the mouse from my cold, dead hands.)
- Ook (access your bookmarks/favorites from the right-click menu)
- Copy Plain Text (strip formatting from text you need to copy into something, especially handy for use with Word, which preserves formatting otherwise)
- Nuke Anything (hate that stupid blinking ad? Want to kill some annoying flash wotsit? Right-click, then select "Remove this object"… and it’s gone. I LOVE this function!)
Sound like a lot of options? It is… and that’s only part of my list. But that’s the beauty of Firefox — it is ready to go straight out of download. You don’t have to get any of this stuff. Just like you don’t have to customize a car… but you can if you want. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes, like me, you do it for work. And sometimes, it just shows you what you’ve been missing, and how much better and easier Internet browsing can be.
And get Firefox yourself, and see what you’re missing.