Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Firefox 2 is out!

This is a "community message":

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Firefox 2 is released today! Go get it now!


In case you don't know, Firefox is one of the most popular up-and-coming free Internet browsers in the market today. If you have been frustrated by the strings of problems (spyware, pop-up advertisements inadequate browsing features etc) experienced in Internet Explorer, you should really try out Firefox. Back in 2003, my brother introduced me to the Firefox (which was at version 0.9 back then), and since then, I had been so amazed by it that I had never used Internet Explorer again. I even made it a point to install Firefox before I start surfing on any computer which doesn't come pre-installed with Firefox.

In the future, I am going to write a feature-length account of how Firefox helps me tremendously in my daily surfing. However, for the time being, I am only going to write a short note of what Firefox is capable of:


Tab-Browsing - This has been there for quite a long time, but if you have been using the old Internet Explorer all the time, this might be new to you. Basically tabs are like individual sub-pages in the Firefox, and in each tab is the different websites you are viewing.
  • Open a new tab - Ctrl-T
  • Open a link in a new tab - middle-click the link OR Ctrl-Left Click.
  • Close a tab - middle-click the tab OR click Ctrl-W / Ctrl-F4.
  • Goto a particular tab - Ctrl-<tab-number> (e.g. Ctrl-2 for the second tab, Ctrl-5 for the fifth tab etc)
  • Goto the last tab - Ctrl-9
  • Un-close a tab (in other words, reopen a tab that you have just closed) - click Ctrl-Shift-T
    (Why Ctrl-Shift-T? Haha, open new tab is Ctrl-T, so reopen tab becomes Ctrl-Shift-T lohh... :P)


In-page Searching - Also a long-time feature of Firefox which is absent in Internet Explorer. It doesn't take long to explain how this works - just follow my instructions below:
  1. Type Ctrl-F
  2. A search bar will pop up at the bottom of Firefox - now type a word in it, say, firefox
  3. Now the first "firefox" in the page will be highlighted. To find other instances of firefox, just click on F3 or Shift-F3.
I can guarantee you: in no time you will hate IE for the lack of this feature.


Built-in Search Box - At the upper right corner of your browser, a loyal search box awaits for your incessant search. Want to Google for internal globus pallidus? Type it in and blast it! Checking out the latest book by your favourite author? Amazon it with the same search box! The best thing at all, if you are using Google, Yahoo or Answers.com, the search box actually gives you suggestions while you are typing. Neat feature.

Tips: When you have already installed Firefox 2, try this while setting the search box to Google: 3^20, 1 kilogram in pound, 2.5 mile in km, the answer to life, the universe and everything!


Smart keyword - This gotta be one of my favourite features of Firefox. In the most rudimentary form, this feature means "replacing a website URL with a simple keyword". For example, there is an online portal called Topclass which I visit everyday, with a long URL (http://learning.mdhs.unimelb.edu.au/) Of course I can simply save it as a bookmark and click on the bookmark whenever I want to visit it. However, smart keyword gives me a good alternative: after some simple set-up, the next time I will only need to type gtopclass (or any other word to your liking) in the address field and I will be there in no time.

If you are impressed by this, you are going to be impressed further by other possibilities provided by smart keyword. The clever thing is: smart keyword works best when used for searching! Firefox will do the following when you type those words in the address bar:
  • google university of melbourne - Does a Google search on "university of melbourne"
  • university of melbourne - Goes straight to my uni's homepage (http://www.unimelb.edu.au). This is actually the "I'm Feeling Lucky" feature of Google, that means it will do a Google search and bring you to the first result that comes up.
  • malaysian food recipe - Brings you to the google search result for "malaysian food recipe". This is actually the same as the previous example, but in this case Google aren't as confident about the result as it was with regard to the University of Melbourne. So this time, instead of bringing you straight to the first result, it actually lets you see the search results. Nicely thought feature!
  • dict conflagration - Look up the word in an online dictionary / encyclopedia.

After some simple set-ups, you can make even better use of the smart keywords. Note: The following examples will not work if you do not set up the configurations by yourselves. I will talk about it when I am free, probably after the exam.

  • wiki parkinson disease - Display the list of wikipedia articles which is related to the Parkinson disease.
  • wikil parkinson disease - Similar to the previous search, but goes straight to the first result instead of displaying the list of articles.
  • med internal globus pallidus - Look up the definition of internal globus pallidus in online medical dictionary. (one of my most-used features)
  • emed parkinson disease - Display the list of eMedicine articles related to Parkinson disease. Best for my weekly Problem-Based Learning.
  • anagram fulrdenow - Look up the solution of the anagram in this anagram solver.
Tips: Use Ctrl-L or F6 to enter the address, and Ctrl-K for search box.


SpellCheckSpell-check - Newly introduced feature in Firefox 2 - no typo in the future! As demonstrated in the picture on your right, when you make a typing error in Firefox, it will automatically underline it and make some useful suggestions. Very handy indeed.


Infinite extensibility - If there is one feature that distinguish Firefox from all other Internet browsers, it has to be its availability of extensions (or add-ons). Basically add-ons are additional features that you can install in your Firefox that greatly enhances your browsing experience and provide useful features. For example, are you getting annoyed with all those stupid advertisements in the Internet nowadays? Install adblock plus and your problem will be gone - no more advertisements seen! Do you want to know your local weather info and forecast right inside your browser? Forecastfox is the solution! Ever wished for a one-click encyclopedia in your computer? Answers is the tool built for that - it gives you an encyclopedic information for any word you clicked on!

For more information on add-ons, check out the add-ons portal here. If you feel overwhelmed with the hundreds of options, you can begin with the recommended add-ons. They are all worth a try.

And have I told you that everything is free?

Other features - There are thousands of online websites dedicated to the tips and tricks on using Firefox, so if you are interested in it just google for "firefox tips". You might want to begin with the feature page of the Firefox's official website.

I can continue for hours if I have enough free time, but I guess I will leave it for next time. Go get Firefox 2 now and learn to use it to the max, and you will begin to mourn the time you had surfed the Internet without it.


p/s: This ended up longer than I expected it to be. If you are adventurous, you might want to try out another browsers like Opera and Internet Explorer 7. To be frank Opera is *on average* faster than Firefox and has a lot of the above mentioned features built-in the software. Therefore if you emphasize speed over features you might want to try out Opera. The latest Internet Explorer 7 is pretty good too, but personally it still lacks a lot of features that I love, like some of those mentioned in this article. Therefore I still stick to Firefox most of the time and use Opera occasionally.

15 comments:

Winson Kang said...

Hah! your post is kinda late already. I have been using firefox 2.0 for like three days already, even before the software update was posted on the firefox website. I got it from filehippo dot com. Hmm, yeah, i so agree with you on all th ethings you said in your post. I so love firefox right now. Hmm, by the way, i think i need to thank you for introducing me this COOL piece of software a few years ago! :)

P.S : However, i think the 2.0 version uses much more resources in comparison to the previous versions. What do you think?

youngyew said...

Haha, it's true that the file is already available through a few sources a few days ago. I heard abou the filehippo through Digg as well. However, moments later it's revealed that the file wasn't meant to be released to the public yet. The Firefox team even discouraged people from downloading it earlier because it was hurting their download servers.

So the official release date is actually today. To be honest I haven't downloaded it (you know, the limitation of my bandwidth). However, I am already using the Release Candidate 3 which is actually exactly the same thing.

About the resource, I am not sure about it. For me the resource issue has been there forever, and since it doesn't affect me seriously I am not particularly concerned as an end user. However, I do use Opera once in a while due to its sheer speed. Have you tried out Opera, Winson? It's actually cool... To be perfectly honest, if Opera supports extensions one day, I am going to convert to Opera. Extensions is actually the only thing that keeps me using Firefox today.

Casper said...

the ctrl-F tip...there is no need 2 do that... just enable the search while you type option and you can just search just by typing the word when you are viewing the page... =)

firefox did take up 40 mb more memory than firefox 1.5 in my com... but at least it's stable at arnd 100 mb and not growing out of proportions the longer i use it...but then again, memory is no real estate for me... it can use however much it wanted=P

sophisticatedsoul said...

Hah, my instinct can be trusted after all. After I downloaded Firefox 2.0, I had a feeling that you must have blogged about it and checked out your blog. You have indeed blogged about it.

youngyew said...

casper: Haha, I know about it, but since this is meant to be an "introductory" post I didn't delve into the more "advanced" stuff, lest everyone gets bored with complicated settings and syntax... Thanks for your tips, I am sure many will like it too. :) Anyway personally I don't enable the search as you type because I am more used to it finding words only when I tell it to. Also, I am afraid that it will interfere with keyboard shortcuts (like the ones in gmail) and stuff like that.

By the way, can you give me a briefing of all the tweaks you have done? It seems amazing how you could have made Firefox faster than Opera, despite all the contrary evidences by computer geeks in places like Digg and Slashdot. Probably you should go there and teach them the way to make Firefox faster than Opera. :)

sophisticatedsoul: Hahahaha... I didn't know that you use Firefox. :P Anyway I always liked to talk about this software but I just don't really have the time for it. For Yesterday it was just a sudden urge to blog. :P

Anonymous said...

Whoa. Whoa whoa whoa!

I could still remember when you tried so hard in promoting Firefox to me back then. I honestly didn't want to try it out but after reading posts after posts and after a few chats, I decided to give it a try. Mana tau my old PC 不争气, Firefox can't run on it. But once I upgraded it (before getting my new lappie), I downloaded Firefox and yes, I LOVE IT man!

So right now, I, like you, will install Firefox in any PCs I'm using, not matter whose. Hehe. *peace*

And oh yeah, thanks for the recommendation and thanks for this post. I wasn't aware of Firefox 2.

jasmine said...

i'm a dinosaur when it comes to IT stuff.=D
BUT BUT BUT when i tried inpage searching on IE after reading your post, it worked lorr.using the exact keys for firefox.
but i don't know what version this IE is. hostel computer.

youngyew said...

day-dreamer: Haha, how come so many whoa whoa? :P Haha, I thought I am the only one who installs Firefox whenever I go, mana tau you also do like that.. hahahaha...

jasmine: Really? I just tried but it doesn't work... Do you mean the pop-up window or the bottom bar? I am not aware of a search bar, as far as I remember IE normally shows the popup... I don't really like the the popup because it obstructs the view, and also it's inconvenient to find the next and previous words.

jasmine said...

oh. so you like the bottom bar. okay.=) yeah, IE only has a pop up.sorry!like i said, i'm a dinosaur =D

youngyew said...

Oohh.. haha, no lar, I just preferred the way search function works in Firefox... For me, the way it automatically highlights the word as you type it, is really fast and effective.

How come you are a dinosaur ehh? :) Hahaha...

Anonymous said...

Haha, I beh tahan using IE on those "other computers" I use... I kept finding my tabs but don't have. LOL!

Anyway, I am interested in the Smart Keyword you mentioned. How to set Firefox up so that we can type a certain keyword in the address bar and we will be directed to the page we want?

Chan Wen said...

Wonderful introduction! Thanks very much. Why only invite one gentleman but many ladies? :P

How much resources is much more? What about startup time? Compatibility with 1.5's extensions?

youngyew said...

Day-dreamer: I will talk about the smart keyword when I am free, probably after the exams.. :P

Chan Wen: Haha, thanks for your compliment. I guess I have to invite more ladies because more gentlemen would have heard about Firefox, compared to ladies... :P :P

By the way, I am not sure about the resources and start up time etc. They never bothered me too much because it doesn't really affect me seriously. The only obvious disadvantage is its java script speed - when I am opening a few java-script-intense page like Digg comments, Firefox is slowed to a halt on my computers.

Related links:
Browser Speed Comparison (Firefox loses to Opera by a large margin)
Java Script Speed Test and Results (I feel quite reluctant to give this link... :P But it's kinda reflected in the issue I had with Digg anyway)

Joanne said...

THANK YOU for introducing me to Firefox!! Have always been frustrated not being able to use tabs on IE, unlike Safari (I use Trong's iMac sometimes) where tabs are super convenient. Thanks again!

youngyew said...

Joanne: Harlo, how are you?! :) Haha, was that me who introduced you to Firefox? Or do you mean you just learnt about Firefox through this post?

By the way, the newest version of IE will have tabs as well, and it's going to be included in the Windows Update in these few weeks.

** I feel that I look more and more like a snake-oil promoter.. If you get what I mean... **