Always use the cursor keys to navigate within pages: When ticked you can use the arrow keys on the keyboard to move the cursor on the current web page. You can then use the SHIFT key along with the arrows to highlight portions of text. This is the same as if you were using the mouse by highlighting portions of text with the mouse cursor and using the left mouse button to begin/end selections. Set to suit your tastes, however note that firstly you may have to click on a portion of a site to initiate the cursor, and secondly, if enabled this option may force a flashing cursor to appear on many web pages even without being clicked on, which can be annoying.
Search for text when I start typing: If ticked, this option allows you to initiate a search in Firefox simply by typing one or more letters. That is, if you start typing the search box automatically appears at the bottom of the screen and accepts your input for a new search. If unticked, you will have to press the Find shortcut key (usually F3 or CTRL+F) to open the search box. I suggest you tick this option to begin with, and if you find it annoying then untick. See the Customizing Firefox and Advanced Tweaking sections for more details of ways to speed up searching.
Use autoscrolling: If ticked this option enables Autoscroll – this lets you scroll the page quickly by holding down the middle mouse button and moving your mouse up or down. I suggest ticking it initially, then untick it if you find it annoying.
Use smooth scrolling: If ticked, Firefox uses Smooth Scrolling. This means that when the page scrolls up or down, it doesn’t jump from one place to another – it scrolls slightly more slowly, allowing your eyes to track your existing position to its new spot. Ticking this option makes reading long passages of text (such as this page) easier. However it can also make some pages seem ‘laggy’, so keep this in mind and disable it if it makes your browsing feel less responsive.
Check my spelling as I type: A new feature of Firefox 2.0 is the built-in spell checker. If this option is ticked, the spell checker will automatically check the spelling of text entered in any text input boxes on the screen and underline in red any words which are misspelled. You can then right-click on the word to see suggested spellings and select one, or you can add the word to the current dictionary used. For the most part I recommend that you enable this option, as it is very useful. The dictionary used depends on the particular version of Firefox you’re using. This feature may slow down browsing on pages which have a text input box filled with a vast amount of text, but for the most part there is negligible performance impact. For more tips on using this feature, see the Basic Tips & Tricks section
Languages: Some (not all) web pages offer different language versions which display by default when you view them. Add/Select which language you want pages to display with by default if they offer such an option. Remember that if you want a different language version of Firefox, for correct spell checking for example, you need to install the appropriate version to begin with (See The Basics section above).
Connection: This setting is very important, and if you need help configuring it correctly contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP). If configured incorrectly you will have problems accessing web pages and/or you may have relatively slow loading of pages. Click the Settings, and for most people, the ‘Direct connection to the Internet’ option is the recommended one. However if you are behind a Proxy – which is normal for networked computers for example – then select the ‘Auto-detect proxy settings for this network’. This choice might also be preferable if you don’t know whether you are or aren’t behind a
proxy. If possible, check this with your ISP or Network Administrator. If you are definitely behind a proxy, it is recommended that you manually specify your proxy settings for even better performance, but once again you require specific information from your ISP or Network Admin to do this.
Cache: The browser cache is a location on your hard drive where Firefox holds website elements such as images, text, ads etc. This speeds up browsing, because when you revisit these sites, the cached version of the unchanged elements are loaded from your hard drive as opposed to having to redownload them again over the Internet. It is best to make the cache size not too large so that it takes a while for Firefox to search through it to retrieve the right elements, and not too small so that it is constantly being overwritten by new information. I suggest something like 80MB as a good compromise value for everyone. I don’t recommend the cache be any larger than 100MB – unless you have a very fast hard
drive; and no smaller than 10MB – unless you have a very fast Internet connection combined with a very slow hard drive. See the Customizing Firefox section for more details about the Browser Cache.
Automatically Check for Updates to: Here you have the option of enabling Firefox’s automatic update checker. If you tick the Firefox box, Firefox will periodically check for Firefox updates and tell you if it has found a new version of itself. If you tick the ‘Installed Add-ons’ box, Firefox will periodically check for updates to your currently installed extensions and themes and let you know when new versions of those are available. The ‘Search Engines’ option checks for updates to the built in search engines in Firefox. I suggest you tick all three of these options so that you can be reminded of updates in case you don’t manually check regularly. You should always run the latest version of Firefox software and any add-ons to ensure maximum security and stability with Firefox, and with the built-in updating features of Firefox, installing updates is quick and easy and doesn’t require manually downloading separate files.
When Updates to Firefox are Found: If you enable the automatic updates checker, you can choose here what Firefox should do when it finds an update. You can either force it to ‘Ask me what I want to do’, or allow it to ‘Automatically download and install the update’. I commend the first option, so that you can choose when to install updates at the most appropriate time, so as not to interfere with other downloads or applications using your Internet connection. If you don’t want the automatic update checker to do its job, untick all the automatic update options, and to manually check for updates at any time, regularly visit the Firefox Home Page, the Firefox Extensions Page, and the Firefox Themes Page. However this is generally not recommended.
Protocols: The options here are ‘Use SSL 3.0′ and ‘Use TLS 1.0′. I recommend that you tick both options, as they use appropriate security protocols (SSL is Secured Sockets Layer and TLS is Transport Layer Security) to ensure secure transmission of data over the Internet. If you encounter any difficulties with a particular website, then untick ‘Use SSL 3.0′ first, then ‘Use TLS 1.0′. If you still have difficulties, avoid using the site for entering sensitive data, as all sites should support SSL 2.0.
When a web site requires a certificate: This setting determines how Firefox reacts to a request by a website to present a Certificate. Certificates are used to verify identity and/or provide authorization for secure transmissions. You should always select ‘Select one automatically’ to allow Firefox to determine the appropriate Certificate to present. If you know what you are doing or you are having difficulties accessing certain secure sites, you may wish to select ‘Ask me every time’ and manually select a Certificate.
View Certificates: Clicking this button brings up a box which allows you to add or remove various types of Certificates – those which are yours, those of others, those of web sites you visit, and those of authorities which verify certificates. In general you shouldn’t need to change these settings unless you know what you’re doing.
Revocation Lists: CRL is your Certificate Revocation List – a list of Certificates which are no longer valid. Firefox can use such a list if you need to add one, however as with the other Certificate options in Firefox, this is not something you need to adjust unless you are familiar with this functionality.
Verification: OCSP is the Online Certificate Status Protocol, another tool to determine the validity of a Certificate. If you require advanced security, you can enable OCSP by selecting the ‘Use OCSP to validate only certificates that specify an OCSP service URL’, or if you want even more advanced security select ‘Use OCSP to validate all certificates using this URL and signer’, then select the service to use. I strongly recommend you leave OCSP on the ‘Do not use OCSP for certificate validation’ setting otherwise you may run into problems.
Security Devices: Clicking this button allows you to manage the tools which give you secure access. There are two which are built into Firefox, but you can manage or use others which are installed on your system. Once again there is no need to change these settings unless you know what you’re doing. The next section provides a range of basic – but important – tips and tricks you can use to improve your Firefox experience quickly and easily. These are perfect for the beginner and advanced user alike.