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5 tips for getting more out of Firefox

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Open background tabs with the mouse wheel

If you have a mouse that has a clickable scroll wheel in the middle, you may not have realised it, but the wheek is a button. So you have three buttons on the mouse - left, right and middle (the wheel). If you wheel-click a link on a web page in Firefox, it will open the page the link points to in a new tab int he background. It is useful on news pages where there are lots of links and you can wheel-click headlines to open pages in the background.

Use the mouse wheel to view the history

If you are viewing a web page in Firefox and hold down the Shift key and rotate the mouse scroll wheel backwards you go back through the previous pages you visited. Shift+forward scrolling goes forward through the pages. It's much easier and faster than clicking the forward and back buttons in the toolbar.

More mouse wheel fun in Firefox

Holding down the Ctrl key while spinning the mouse wheel forward and backward zooms into and out of a web page. It's very useful if you eyesight isn't so good and want larger text and images. Point at a tab and click the mouse wheel to close it without having to position the mouse over the close button like you normally do.

Find web errors

Firefox has an interesting tool that shows all the errors in web pages. Select Error Console on the Tools menu and click the Clear and All buttons to clear all the existing error and warning messages. Move the Error Console window to one side and then go to any web page and look at the errors that are shown in the Error Console window. You can refresh the current page to see the errors on it too.

Speed verses memory

You can choose between speed and memory in Firefox. When the web browser is minimised it continues to occupy tens or even hundreds of megabytes of memory depending on which web pages you have recently been browsing. However, there's a hidden setting that reduces this memory usage to almost zero and this means that there is more memory to run other applications. Click in Firefox's address box and then enter about:config (you might have to click through a warning). Right click in the settings and select New, Boolean. Enter config.trim_on_minimize for the name and then set its value to true. Now Windows can swap the memory that Firefox is out out to disk whenever it needs to, such as when it is short of memory or a another program needs a lot of memory. (Setting the value to false will restore the default setting.)

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