After using Internet Explorer for many years, I must say that I am very sorry that I switched to Firefox much earlier than I did! Firefox is by far the most customizable browser with thousands of extensions and add-ons that you can download to enhance your browser experience. To improve Firefox, there are not only many third-party extensions, but many configuration options that can be configured in Firefox itself.
I’ve changed a lot of settings in Firefox over the past few months and decided to share some of them with my Firefox readers. I’m going to share a few Firefox settings that you can change to make your Internet experience more enjoyable.
About backup: configuration settings
Before you start editing the about: config file in Firefox, you should back up the file in case you make a change that messes things up. You can make a backup by making a copy of the prefs.js file located in the Firefox profile folder. Whether you are using OS X, Windows, or Linux, there really is a way to find the profile folder for Firefox.
First, click on the settings button in the upper right corner with three horizontal lines.
Now in the menu that opens, click on the question mark icon at the very bottom of the menu.
Another menu will appear and here you will need to click on Troubleshooting Information.
Finally, a new tab will open in Firefox and you will see the Application Basics section. In this section, you should see a Show Folder button next to your profile folder.
When you click the button, File Explorer will open with the current Firefox profile. Now just scroll down until you see prefs.js and copy that file to a different location on your hard drive.
Modify about: configuration in Firefox
First of all, it’s probably a good idea to mention how to actually change these advanced configuration options in Firefox for those non-tech users. Configuration parameters are simply a table of key names and values. You can access all of them by entering about: config into your browser’s address bar. A warning will appear stating that this could void your warranty and you will have to click the “I’ll be careful, I promise” button.
To change the value of a key, simply enter its name in the search text box at the top. Double click on the entry and you can change the value in the popup. Restart your browser and the changes will take effect.
Ok, let’s move on to the basic settings. It is always a good idea to tweak only one setting at a time to make sure it works for your system and does not cause any unexpected problems.
Opening search results in a new tab
Open search results in a new tab
This tweak is pretty cool and one of the best. Usually when you search from the search box in the top right corner of Firefox, it usually loads in the current tab. However, if you set this parameter to TRUE instead of FALSE, then every time you search, the new tab will display the results, thus leaving the current tab unchanged!
According to my Google web search history, I do almost 50 searches a day! It was 50 times that I had to manually open a new tab to perform a search, or I accidentally overwrote the web page I was currently viewing.
False – default value, set to True to load results into a new tab
Just a quick note before we proceed. You will notice that after changing the default, it will turn bold and the status will change to the user set. You can sort by this column and quickly find all the changed settings. Alternatively, you can simply right-click any of these options and click Reset to return it to its default value.
Open new tabs at the end
Finally open new tabs
Usually, when you click a link that opens in a new tab, the new tab appears immediately after the current tab. I personally like it when a new tab opens at the end of all tabs. If you prefer this too, change the value below to False.
True – default, set to False to load a new tab at the end of all tabs
Disable delay when installing add-ons
Disable delays when installing add-ons
I still don’t understand why Firefox makes me wait a few seconds before I can install the add-on. Maybe it’s for security reasons, but it really annoys those who know what they are doing. If you just want to install the add-on without worrying about Firefox’s unnecessary lag, you can disable it by setting the value to 0.
1000 is the default, 0 to disable latency
Tab preview when switching
Tabs preview on switching
If you like how you can see previews when switching between programs on Windows with ALT + TAB, then you will definitely want to enable previews in Firefox. In Firefox, you will see a small popup in the center with thumbnails for each open tab.
False – default value, true for preview
Disable web page prefetching
Disable prefetching of web pages
Firefox has an interesting feature by which it tries to detect which links on a page you can click and then loads them to make the pages load faster. For example, it will try to automatically load the best Google search result. However, this eats up bandwidth, which can be a problem for people with slow and limited Internet connections. Set to false to disable it.
True is the default, set False
Improving network performance
Network performance increased
From a network perspective, you can increase several different parameters to improve network performance.
network.http.max-connections controls how many concurrent network connections Firefox will establish concurrently with any number of web servers. In the latest version of Firefox, the default is 256. If you have this value, leave it as it is. If you are using an older version of Firefox and the value is 8 or 30 or something, you can increase it to 256.
network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server controls the number of persistent connections allowed for each server. The default is 6, which is usually the value on the list of people when they say you can increase the number of concurrent downloads in Firefox. Do not exceed the default by more than 1 or 2, or you may get blacklisted.
Turn off Tool Tips
Finally, you can get rid of all those annoying prompts that pop up every time you hover over the button by modifying the config file. Personally, I already know what each button on my toolbar does, and it annoys me when they pop up and close something else!
True is the default, set to False to disable tooltips.
The only thing that may bother some is that the tooltip does not appear when you hover over the tab title. If you occasionally hover over a tab to see the full title of a web page, setting this to false will prevent you from seeing this information.
These are just seven of the many Firefox settings I use on a daily basis. Of course, feel free to add your favorite about: config tweaks in the comments. Enjoy!