THE MAGAZINE

New in plaintext: Firefox secrets revealed

By Peter Piazza

The number of users of alternative Web browser Firefox is growing steadily; while Microsoft’s Internet Explorer still dominates the market, some analysts put the number of Firefox users at more than 64 million. If you are one of those users, you’ve probably spent some time with the basics—learning how to use tabs and themes, for example.

If you’re ready to become a power user of Firefox, turn to Firefox Secrets: A Need-To-Know Guide, a new book by software developer and blogger Cheah Chu Yeow and published by SitePoint Pty. Ltd. The book starts with a look at the features that make the browser secure and provide “noninvasive” browsing, such as disabling JavaScript and blocking popups. The book also covers security-related topics such as managing cookies, configuring the password manager, and clearing any surfing tracks.

In addition to its security features, Firefox allows easy personalization. For example, Yeow details how extensions—mini programs that provide specialized functions, such as allowing mouse gestures to replace toolbar functions—are installed (and how they can be uninstalled), and he provides some recommendations for extensions that he’s found useful.

Also provided is information about themes, which change the way the browser looks. Several themes and extensions (as well as the browser itself) are included on the CD that accompanies the book.

In a section titled “Tips, Tricks, and Hacks,” Yeow explains one of the most useful, but little-known, features of Firefox: its configuration page, accessible by typing “about:config” into the address bar. This interface allows users further customization of the browser, from tweaks that speed up browsing by sending multiple requests at one time to a change that allows URLs to be completed automatically by matching what’s being typed to the sites in the browser’s history.

Firefox users will be happy to see instructions on how to overcome the browser’s most irritating problem: an occasional “Profile Already in Use” error message that locks the browser (this typically happens after a crash or if you’ve been adding new features). Yeow’s detailed instructions explain how to delete the lock that prevents Firefox from functioning properly.

@   Firefox secrets: A need- to-Know Guide is available from SitePoint for $29.95.

 

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