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Written by Alan Hogan on 2005-05-01; viewed 20532 times.

Last revised: 2005-05-18 by Alan Hogan. See all.

'Firefox Soapbox' by Alan Hogan
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Firefox’s Nifty Features

One-Key (In-Page) Text Searching
The feature of Firefox that I miss most whenever forced to use Internet Explorer is its quick text searching. You might already know that you can navigate to Edit • Find in This Page or hit Ctrl-F to find any word or phrase in your current web page. But did you know that there’s a better way? In Firefox, typing the forward slash, /, brings up a small bar below the webpage. Typing a word or phrase will find and highlight it – for example, typing /W3C Recommendation will find the phrase “W3C Recommendation”. (You actually do not need to type whole words. Typing /W3C Re likely would work just as well. Also, the F3 key, or Ctrl-G, will find the phrase’s next occurence.) Not only is it easier to type / than Ctrl-F, but the slim box below the content will not obscure anything on the page you are reading, unlike IE’s search box.
Quick (Web) Searching
In Firefox’s upper-right corner there is a small search box with the Google logo. Typing a search term and hitting Enter will conduct a Google search. The Google logo with the small down arrow can be clicked to search on eBay or using Yahoo or other engines. Finally, typing a phrase or word into the address bar and hitting enter is equivalent to a Google “I’m Feeling Lucky” search – it goes directly to the first result. (Try Firefox Soapbox!)
Live Bookmarks
In the latest releases (1.0.4 a/o this writing) of Firefox, there is by default a “Latest Headlines” bookmark (or “favorite”) on the Bookmarks Toolbar (right below the Back and Refresh buttons). Clicking it reveals a list of the latest news stories from the BBC, each item is a link (bookmark) to the appropriate news article on This special kind of bookmark, which updates automatically, is called a “live bookmark”. Live bookmarks are distinguishable by their orange icon. That same icon, or a similar one, also identifies an “RSS feed”, which is a machine-readable list of links put out by many websites, especially news sites and blogs. Whenever you see the symbol in the lower right corner of Firefox, you can click it and choose Subscribe to .... This will bring up the Add Bookmark dialog box, and you can choose where you want the live bookmark to appear. (“Bookmarks Toolbar Folder” contains the bookmarks you see below the Back and Refresh buttons.)
A theme changes the icons (symbols such as the Back button) and look of Firefox. To change your theme, go to Tools • Themes. Finding more themes is easy – simply click the link which reads “Get More Themes” or go to
Keep Reading
In the next installments of Firefox Soapbox, I’ll share some useful extensions with you. For now, enjoy your new browser! (Sign up for newsletter updates here)

Get Firefox from Mozilla’s site.

Are there other nifty features I missed? Let me know! I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions on this page or the whole Firefox Soapbox series!
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