Sunday, June 22, 2008


Arguably, the most important computer application ever invented has to be the Web browser. The British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee built the first one back in 1991 and on the 17th of June of this year Mozilla offered to the world the best Web browser yet to be devised. Firefox 3 is so much faster, safer and customizable than any browser out there, including Microsoft's Internet Explorer, that it makes no sense not to use it. To download it, open any Web browser and type "" into the address bar or click the link I just provided.

Once you have installed and loaded Firefox 3 you'll notice a star icon on the right side of the address bar (or location bar, as the Mozilla folks call it) and you can double-click the star to bookmark the page you're currently on. Once you have a lot of Web sites bookmarked you can Tag them to group them together so that when you type the Tag into Firefox's address bar they all show up together in a drop box. Say you have several sites bookmarked dedicated to horse racing. You can tag them all with the letters "hr" and then merely typing those letters into Firefox's address bar will bring up all of those Web address. To tag a page go to that page and double click the star icon. You can give a page as many tags as you want. Just separate each tag with a comma.

Mozilla has added a feature that comes up with suggestions for Web destinations based on your browsing history and stored bookmarks as you type in the address bar. You'll use this constantly if you'll allow yourself to get used to it. You can click the address bar to access focus to it or better yet type "Ctrl" and the letter "l" for Location bar (as Mozilla calls it) and then continue typing to find your desired sight. Then in the drop box use the arrow keys on your keyboard to highlight your choice and hit the enter key. Your hands never have to leave the keyboard. How cool is that!

As you probably know, on all Windows pages (and other OS pages for all I know) you can click under or over the scroll bar to view a screen-worth of data, if screen-worth is the word I want. Well, you can do that in Firefox 3 as well. But better still you can accomplish the same thing in Firefox 3 on the keyboard by using the Space key. Hit the Space key once to go down a screen-worth of data. If you want to go back up, use the Shift key and the Space key.

Here's some more Firefox 3 keyboard shortcuts:

Ctrl + the plus key will zoom in on tiny text or objects.
Ctrl + the minus key zooms back out again.
Ctrl + L (small L, not capitol L) sends focus to the Location bar or Address bar. I mentioned that before though' didn't I.
Ctrl + k gives focus to the Search bar that's just to the right of the Address bar. More on the Search bar later.
Ctrl + n opens a new Firefox window.
Ctrl + t opens a new tab.
Ctrl + r refreshes the current page.
Ctrl + b opens your Bookmarks in a separate window pane. The same key combination will close it.
Ctrl + h opens your browsing history in a separate window pane. The same key combination will close it.
The Esc key stops a page from loading in any browser.

To the right of the Address bar in Firefox 3 is the Search bar. The default setting is Google but by clicking the arrow in front of the Google icon you can change the option of search engines to Yahoo,,, Creative Commons, Wikipedia or even eBay. Cool, huh. And as I mentioned before, instead of mousing up and clicking in the Search bar to access focus to it, all you have to do is type Ctrl + k and then start typing your search terms.

What makes Firefox so much better than any other browser is the ability for us the users to add to its functionality with Firefox's Add-on's features. For me the Firefox add-on that is by far the coolest and most indispensable is Cool-iris. In Firefox 3 click Tools next to File, Edit and View and then click Add-ons and look for Cool-iris and read about it and get it. You'll love it. Of course, there are hundreds of other neat add-ons and Extensions, Themes and Plug-ins. That's one of the things that make this browser so much more powerful and so much better than any of its competitors.

Again, to get Firefox 3 open any page in Internet Explorer and in the Address bar type "" without the quotation marks, of course or you can click the link at the top of this post.

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