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How to use Firefox

Firefox is an Internet browser that you can use to visit web pages and search the Web.
This article show you haw to use Firefox.

Viewing your home page

When you start Firefox, you will see your home page. By default, you will see Firefox's home page.


  • To display more web content on the screen, you can use Full Screen mode. Full Screen mode condenses the Firefox's Toolbars into one small toolbar. To enable Full Screen mode, simply select View > Full Screen or press F11.
  • To go to your home page quickly, press Alt+Home.

You can navigate to a new web page by typing in its Internet address or URL into the Location Bar. URLs normally begin with "http://" followed by one or more names that identify the address. One example is "http://www.mozilla.org/".

  1. Click the Location Bar to select the URL that is already there.
  2. Type the URL of the page you want to visit. The URL you type replaces any text already in the Location Bar.
  3. Press Enter.

Tip: To quickly select the URL of the Location Bar, press Ctrl+L.

Don't know a URL? Try typing something specific to the page you want to visit, e.g. a name, into the Location Bar and hit Enter. This will take you to the top result in Google for that term.

Most web pages contain links you can click to move to other pages.

  1. Move the mouse pointer until it changes to a pointing finger. This happens whenever the pointer is over a link. Most links are underlined text, but buttons and pictures can also be links.
  2. Click the link once. While the network locates the link's page, status messages will appear at the bottom of the window.

Retracing your steps

There are several ways to revisit pages:

  • To go back or forward one page, click the Back or Forward button.
  • To go back or forward more than one page, click the small triangles on the Back and Forward buttons. You'll see a list of pages you've recently visited; to return to a page, choose it from the list.
  • To see a list of any URLs you've typed into the Location Bar, click the down arrow at the right end of the Location Bar. To view a page, choose it from the list.
  • To choose from pages you've visited during the current session, open the History menu and use the list in the bottom section of the menu.
  • To choose from pages you've visited during the past several sessions, open the History menu and choose Show in Sidebar. You will see the History Sidebar. The History Sidebar displays a list of folders. Clicking the folders displays subfolders or titles of web pages. You can click a page's title to view that page.

Stopping and reloading

If a page is loading too slowly or you no longer wish to view a page, click the Stop button.

To reload the current page or to get the most up-to-date version, click the Reload button or press Ctrl + R.

Tabbed browsing

When you visit more than one web page at a time, you can use Tabbed Browsing to navigate the Web faster and easier.

Tabbed browsing lets you open several web pages within a single Firefox window, each displaying in its own tab. This frees up space on your desktop since you don't have to have a window open for every web page you're currently visiting. You can open, close, and reload web pages conveniently in one place without having to switch to another window.

Using the Sidebar

The Sidebar is an area on the left side of the screen that you can use for viewing bookmarks or history. Extensions may add new ways to use the Sidebar as well.

To view an item in the Sidebar, select View > Sidebar. From there you can select the Sidebar tab you want.


Searching the web

Searching for web pages on a particular topic is as easy as typing a few words into Firefox's Search Bar.

For example, if you want to find information about the world cup:

  1. Click in the Search Bar.
  2. Type the phrase world cup. Your typing replaces any text currently in the search bar.
  3. Hit Enter to search.

Search results for "world cup" appear in the Firefox window.

Selecting search engine

You can switch the search engine by clicking on its icon and selecting the search engine of your choice. Some search engines, like Google, search the whole web; others, like Amazon.com, only search specific sites.

Manage search engines

Click on the icon of the search engine and select Manage Search Engines... to add, reorder, remove, or restore the default search engines. Select a search engine and click the appropriate button to to move it around within the list or remove it. You can install new search engines by clicking the Get more search engines… link.

Searching the web for words selected in a web page

Firefox allows you to search the web for words you select within a web page:

  1. Select (highlight) any words in a web page.
  2. Right-click and choose Search [Search Engine] for "[your selected words]" from the pop-up menu.

Firefox opens a new tab and uses the currently selected Search Engine to search for your selected words.

Searching within a page

To find text within the page you are currently viewing in Firefox:

  1. Press Ctrl+F or select Edit > Find in This Page… to open the Find Toolbar at the bottom of Firefox.
  2. Type the text you want to find. The search automatically begins as soon as you type something into the search box.
  3. The Find Toolbar offers the following choices:
    • Next: find text in the page that is below the current cursor position.
    • Previous: find text that is above the current cursor position.
    • Highlight all: highlight occurrences of your search string in the current page.
    • Match case: limit the search to text that has the same capitalization as your search string.

To find the same word or phrase again, press F3 or select Edit > Find Again.

Tip: In Tools > Options, select the Advanced panel, click the General tab, and enable the Search for text when I start typing option to enable the Quick Find mode of the Find Toolbar. When enabled, the Quick Find toolbar automatically opens and starts searching as soon as you type something. Unlike the Find Toolbar, the Quick Find toolbar will close automatically after a few seconds of inactivity.

Copying, saving, and printing pages

Copying part of a page

To copy text from a page:

  1. Select the text.
  2. Select Edit > Copy from the Menu Bar.

You can paste the text into other programs.

To copy a link (URL) or an image link from a page:

  1. Position the pointer over the link or image.
  2. Right-click the link or image to display a pop-up menu.
  3. Choose Copy Link Location or Copy Image Location. If an image is also a link, you can choose either menu item.

You can paste the link into other programs or into Firefox's Location Bar.

Saving all or part of a page

To save an entire page in Firefox:

  1. Select File > Save Page As. You will see the Save As dialog box.
  2. Choose a location for the saved page.
  3. Choose a format for the page you want to save:
    • Web Page, Complete: Save the whole web page along with pictures. This choice allows you to view it as originally shown with pictures, but it may not keep the HTML link structure of the original page. Firefox creates a new directory where the page is saved to save pictures and other files necessary to show the whole web page.
    • Web Page, HTML Only: Save the original page without pictures. This choice preserves the original HTML link structure in one file.
    • Text file: Save the original page as a text file. This choice will not preserve the original HTML link structure, but will allow you to see a text version of the web page in any text editor.
  4. Type a file name for the page and click Save.

To save a frame from within a web page:

  1. Position the mouse pointer within the frame.
  2. Right-click the frame to display a pop-up menu.
  3. Select This Frame > Save Frame As from the submenu. You will see the Save As dialog box.
  4. Choose a location for the saved page.
  5. Choose a format for the page you want to save.
  6. Type a file name for the page and click Save.

Saving a file onto your hard drive lets you view the page when you aren't connected to the Internet.

To save an image from a page:

  1. Position the mouse pointer over the image.
  2. Right-click the image to display a pop-up menu.
  3. Select Save Image As. You will see the Save Image dialog box.
  4. Choose a location for the saved image.
  5. Type a file name for the image and click Save.

To save a page without displaying it (which is useful for retrieving a nonformatted page that isn't intended for viewing):

  1. Position the mouse pointer over a link to the page.
  2. Right-click the link to display a pop-up menu.
  3. Select Save Link As.... You will see the Save As dialog box.
  4. Choose a location for the saved page.
  5. Type a file name for the page and click Save.

Important: Some links automatically download and save files to your hard drive after you click them. The URLs for these links often begin with "ftp" or end with a file-type extension such as "au" or "mpeg." These links might transmit software, sound, or movie files and can launch helper applications that support the files.

Tip: To set an image as your desktop background, right-click on an image and choose Set As Desktop Background… from the pop-up menu.

Printing a page

To print the current page:

  • Select File > Print.

To print selected text:

  • Select the text in the current page.
  • Select File > Print. The print dialog box will appear.
  • Under Print Range, click Selection.

The web page's author and the size of the printed page, not the size of the onscreen window, determine placement of content on the printed page. Text is wrapped and graphics are repositioned to accommodate paper size.

Using Print Preview

To have an early look at how a page will look before it is printed, you can use Print Preview:

  • Select File > Print Preview.

In Print Preview, you can do the following with pages you want to print:

  • View a preview of each page: Click the Next , Previous , First , or Last button to move between pages.
  • Change the scale (size) of pages: In the Scale drop-down menu, choose "50%" to make each page half the size of the original page. To automatically resize pages so that they fit the width of the paper, choose "Shrink to Fit". You can also type in your own percentage by choosing "Custom…".
  • Change the orientation of the page: Choose Portrait to position the page with the shorter side facing up. Choose Landscape to position the page sideways with the longer side facing up.
  • Go to Page Setup: Click Page Setup to further customize pages you want to print.
  • Go to Print: Click Print to print the pages.

Note: Some Print Preview functions are different or unavailable on Mac OS and Linux.

Using Page Setup

Note: Some Page Setup functions are different or unavailable on Mac OS and Linux.

To customize how pages are printed in Firefox, you can use Page Setup:

  • Select File > Page Setup.

In Page Setup, you can change the following settings for pages you want to print:

  • Format & Options: Choose the orientation, scale, and other options:
    • Orientation:
      • Portrait: Choose this to position the page normally, with the shorter side facing up.
      • Landscape: Choose this to position the page sideways, with the longer side facing up.
    • Scale: Type in a percentage of the original size. For example, type "50" to make each page half the size of the original page.
      • Shrink To Fit Page Width: Select this to automatically resize the page to the width of the paper.
    • Options:
      • Print Background (colors and images): Select this to print background images and colors. If unselected only pictures and color in the foreground (in front) are printed.
  • Margins & Header/Footer: Click this tab to set up margins, headers, and footers:
    • Margins:
      • Top, Bottom, Left, Right: Type a margin in the given units for the top, bottom, left, and right margins.
    • Headers & Footers: Each drop-down list represents either a header or a footer area. The top row of drop-down lists are for the left, center, and right header areas. The bottom row are for the left, center, and right footer areas. In each drop-down list, choose one of the following options:
      • --blank--: Show nothing in this area.
      • Title: Show the web page title.
      • URL: Show the web page URL (URL's usually start with "http://").
      • Date/Time: Show the date and time when the web page is printed.
      • Page #: Show the page number of each page.
      • Page # of #: Show the page number along with the total number of pages. For example, if you print a five page web page, "3 of 5" would be shown on the third page.
      • Custom: Type your own text. You can include any of the following codes to print specific information:
        • &PT: Page Number with Total (Example: "3 of 5")
        • &P: Page Number
        • &D: Date
        • &U: URL
        • &T: Page Title

Tip: To see a preview of changes made to Page Setup, use Print Preview.

Improving speed and efficiency

Managing different file types

Firefox can handle many types of files. However, for some files such as movies or music, Firefox needs Plugins or external applications that can handle those files. If Firefox doesn't have the needed Plugin or doesn't know what application to use to open the file, it can still save the file to your hard disk. When saving files, you can keep track of them using the Download Manager.

Plugins extend Firefox's functionality and run within it. Plugins like Sun Java, Adobe Flash, and RealNetworks RealPlayer allow Firefox to show multimedia files and run small applications such as movies, animations, and games. You can find common Plugins on the Plugins page at Mozilla Add-ons.

When files cannot be opened within Firefox, you can choose to open them with applications outside of Firefox. For example, you can use the media player of your choice to play MP3 files.

You can specify how Firefox handles files it can't display in the Download Actions dialog. To open this dialog, select Tools > Options, open the Content panel, and click the Manage… button in the File Types section. You can change the action for a file type or remove it.

When you click on a file and Firefox doesn't know how to handle it, an Opening dialog box is displayed, offering these choices:

  • Open with: Firefox opens the file using the default program in your system settings. You can also choose a different program by selecting Other… in the drop-down list.
  • Save to Disk: Firefox allows you to select a location to save the file. If you have selected Save all files to (this folder) in the Main panel of Options, the file will automatically be saved to the default folder; otherwise Firefox will ask you where to save it.
  • Do this automatically for files like this from now on: When this is selected, Firefox will automatically perform the selected action the next time you download a file of this type.

Tip: You can clear your saved options for Do this automatically for files like this from now on in the Download Actions dialog.

Making Firefox your default browser

Firefox displays web pages on the Internet and on your computer. To easily open web pages, you can make Firefox your default browser.

To make Firefox your default web browser, select Tools > Options and click the Check Now button in the Main panel.

Changing cache settings

Firefox stores copies of frequently accessed pages in the cache. By doing this Firefox doesn't have to retrieve the page from the network each time you view the web page.

To set the size of the cache:

  1. Select Tools > Options.
  2. Open the Advanced panel and click the Network tab.
  3. Enter a number in the Use up to field to specify the size of the cache. The default size is 50MB.

Important: A larger cache allows more data to be quickly retrieved, but more of your hard disk space is used.

When you quit Firefox, it performs cache maintenance. If maintenance takes longer than you wish, try reducing the size of the disk cache.

To reload a page at any time, click the Reload button in Firefox's Navigation Toolbar. Firefox then loads and displays the latest version of the page.

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