Firefox is a free and open source browser and 10% of people around the world use Firefox as their primary browser. Mozilla is the developer of Firefox browsers who primarily offers products focusing on open web. Firefox Quantum is the latest version of Firefox and is one of the important competitors and alternate to Google Chrome browser. Firefox also continues to compete with other major web browsers like Microsoft Edge and Apple’s Safari.
Related: Beginners guide to Google Chrome browser.
1. Why Should You Use Firefox?
Many corporate companies dominate the world of browsers. Google, Apple, Microsoft are the major players, all incorporating their browsers to their own operating systems. For example, Windows 10 comes with Edge, macOS comes with Safari and Android users tend to use Chrome. This makes the competition unfair and difficult to survive in the open web. Mozilla is a non-profit organization by community of volunteers. Its mission is to build an open web accessible for all against the domination of the corporate companies.
So, it’s a good idea to try out Firefox to support an open web. In addition, the Firefox browser also packed with features you can get everything you need.
- With the much needed privacy features, Firefox remains one of the most functional and popular web browsing platforms on the market.
- Developers ensure that Firefox maintains good performance and resistance to malicious codes.
- Firefox gets automatic update when you connect to internet. This will ensure to protect from latest threats.
- Use across all devices with Android and iOS apps.
After installing and opening Firefox for the first time, here are some important things you should do.
2. Basic Features
Similar to any other browser, you can do the following stuff in Firefox also. You can either use the hamburger menu icon on the top right corner of the browser or use top menu bar for accessing the options.
- Open webpages in a tab, windows or in a private window. By default Firefox will save all your browsing history to speedup your activities. However, you can use private mode to inform Firefox not to save any of your browsing history.
- You can bookmark the webpages for quick access.
- View historical browsing details using the “History” menu. View the download history under “Tools > Downloads” menu.
- Built-in password manager to save login passwords and you can protect all passwords with a master password.
- Take screenshot right from the browser and download or store it on Firefox server for 14 days.
- Excellent content blocking features to protect your privacy.
- Firefox also offers Developer Tools to inspect website elements and performance.
- You can enhance the browser’s feature with add-ons from third party developers.
Before we discuss the basic and other important features let us first have a look on the layout of Firefox Quantum browser.
3. Firefox Layout
Firefox may show you top sites, history and snippets on the new tab page when you open. However, you can disable all these annoying stuffs under “about:preferences#home” page.
- You can navigate to front, back, refresh or quickly go to the home page using navigational icons next to the left side of the address bar.
- Use the address bar to search with the default search engine or use the search box shown on the page.
- View bookmarks, sidebar and access menu items using the hamburger menu.
- Use the gear icon showing on the top right to go the customization section of your home page.
4. Customizing Firefox Interface
Unlike Chrome and other browsers, Firefox allows you to customize the user interface. This helps you to drag and rearrange the tools as per your convenient. Go to “View > Toolbar > Customize…” options to check all the available icons. Alternatively, go to “Hamburger Menu > Customize” to go to the customizing page.
Simply drag and drop the icons in the available place to make your browser convenient for your usage.
5. Using Firefox Address Bar
Firefox has two options for searching and getting the result – address bar and Search box. You can use the address bar for searching normal queries and open webpages. By default, Firefox uses Google search engine and search the queries using Google.
When you open a webpage, the address bar will show you multiple options.
The right side of the address bar shows multiple icons:
- Click on the down arrow to check history and search with different search engines.
- View the reader view to disable all advertisements on the page.
- Click on the three dots icon to bookmark or share the webpage link.
- The Pocket button allows you to save the webpage link to social sharing platform Pocket. You need to have a separate Pocket account for saving webpages to Pocket.
- Click the star icon to bookmark the webpage.
The address bar will show the padlock icon on the left of the website address with the connection details of a website. Click on the padlock icon and control the behavior of the site like blocking cookies.
Related: How to use Firefox password manager?
6. Using Firefox Search
In addition to the address bar, Firefox also offers an additional Search box. You can add the Search box next to the address bar in the customizing section.
You may also type in keywords on the Search box and use one of the available search engines to get the result. In order to change default search engine, do the following:
- Click on the magnifying glass and choose “Change Search Settings” option.
- Find “Default Search Engine” section and click the dropdown to choose the default search engine.
- You may add search engines by clicking the “Find more search engines” link on the bottom of the page.
- Choose any preferred search tool and click on the blue button with ‘+Add to Firefox’ text.
7. Settings Up New Tab Page and Home Page
Click on the gear icon on the right top corner of the browser or go to “about:preferences#home” URL. Here you can setup what you want to see on the new tabs, home page and new windows.
8. Set Custom URL for Home Page
Firefox opens a home page when you launch the browser. By default, home page in Firefox is setup as “Firefox Home” showing top and recommended sites. Follow the below instructions to change home page:
- Open a new tab and look for the small gear icon at the top right portion, inside the tab.
- Look for “Homepage and new windows” option that should show “Firefox Home (Default)”.
- Click on the dropdown and choose “Custom URLs…” option.
- Type in or paste your preferred URL. You can choose the current pages and set multiple pages as your home page.
- Close the tab.
The custom page will open whenever you click on the “Home” icon next to address bar or launch the browser.
9. Bookmark Favorite Pages
When browsing the web, you will eventually encounter webpages that you want to visit regularly. With bookmarking, you can revisit a webpage quickly. Here are steps to do it:
- Open your favorite webpage
- Look for the “Star” icon inside the right side of the address bar and click on it.
- A small window will appear, make changes to bookmark name, folder and tags.
- Click “Done” and the star icon will turn blue, indicating that the webpage has been bookmarked.
10. Open Bookmarked Pages
Opening bookmarked pages is very easy.
- Check the toolbar on the right and look for an icon represented by slanting lines like library.
- The title of the icon is “View History, saved bookmarks, and more”.
- Click on it and choose “Bookmarks” option.
- A dropdown menu will appear showing all of your bookmarked pages.
11. Import Data From Other Browser
One of the first things you need to do is to import your browsing data from other browsers like Chrome, Edge, Internet Explorer or Safari.
- Go to “Bookmarks > Show All Bookmarks” menu on Firefox browser.
- A new window will open with the name “Library”.
- Click on the “Import and backup you bookmarks” button that will look like a start.
- Choose “Import Data from Another Browser” option. You will see an “Import Wizard” with the list of browsers installed on your computer.
- Select the browser from which you want to import bookmarks and click on “Continue” button.
- You will see options to choose which data you want to import, such as Cookies, Browsing History, Saved Passwords and Bookmarks.
- Select “Bookmarks” option and import all your existing bookmarks to Firefox.
12. Browse in Private Mode
Sometimes, you don’t want any of your browsing information stored on the computer. This is important for your privacy, if you use a public computer or if you borrow a computer.
- Click on the hamburger menu on the top right corner showing with three horizontal lines.
- Choose “New Private Window” option.
- Alternatively, you can press “Ctrl + Shift + P” in Windows and “Command + Shift + P” in macOS to open private mode.
When using a private window, Firefox will not record your browsing activities in history. Close the private window to get back to the normal Firefox window.
13. Install Add-ons
Firefox offers two types add-ons catalogue to enhance the browser’s functionality. You can find extensions and themes to change the behavior of your browser. Follow the below steps to install add-ons on your browser.
- Type “about:addons” in the address bar and press enter.
- The “Extensions” and “Themes” section will show you all the installed items on your browser. You can disable or remove any item that you don’t want.
- Look for “Find more add-ons” button at the bottom of “Get Add-ons” section and click on it.
- A new page will open showing popular extensions and themes.
- Type in any keyword you want in the “Find add-ons” field and press enter to start searching.
- Choose any extension you want and click on the blue “+ Add to Firefox” button
Similarly, you can also choose and install theme for your Firefox browser.
14. Sync Browsing Activities
You can register for a Firefox account under “Tools > Sign In To Sync…” menu. Create a new account and login to Firefox when browsing.
This will help you to sync your browsing activities across all your devices that you logged in using the same Firefox account.
Being a volunteer organization, Mozilla offers Firefox as a free and open source browser. Firefox is also a smart browser that automatically updates to protect your online privacy and security. Especially, if you have concern over Google’s privacy issues then give it a try to Firefox Quantum. We bet you will never turn back to Chrome again.