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documentation.suse.com / SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Documentation / GNOME User Guide / Internet and communication / Firefox: browsing the Web
Applies to Firefox 15 SP4

13 Firefox: browsing the Web

The Mozilla Firefox Web browser is included with SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server. With features like tabbed browsing, pop-up window blocking and download management, Firefox combines the latest browsing and security technologies with an easy-to-use interface. It gives you easy access to different search engines to help you find the information you need.

13.1 Starting Firefox

Open the Activities overview by pressing Meta and search for fire.

13.2 Navigating Web sites

The look and feel of Firefox is similar to that of other browsers. It is shown in Figure 13.1, “The browser window of Firefox. At the top of the window, you find the address bar for a Web address, and the search bar. Bookmarks are also available for quick access from the bookmarks toolbar. For more information about the various Firefox features, use the Help menu in the menu bar.

Note
Note: Using the menu bar

While most functions of Firefox are available through the three-lines button (Three-lines button), some are only available from the menu bar.

The menu bar of Firefox is hidden by default. To temporarily show it, press Alt. It will then be displayed until you click elsewhere in the browser window.

To permanently enable the menu bar, first press Alt, then choose View / Toolbars and activate the Menu Bar check box.

The browser window of Firefox
Figure 13.1: The browser window of Firefox

13.2.1 The address bar

When typing into the address bar, an auto-completion drop-down box opens. It shows all previous location addresses and bookmarks containing the characters you type. The matching phrase is highlighted in bold. Entries visited most frequently and recently are listed first.

List entries from the bookmark list are marked with a star. Bookmarks with tags are marked with an additional label followed by the tag names. List entries from the browsing history are not marked. To search in your bookmarks only, type * as the first character of your search.

Use and or the mouse wheel to navigate the list. Press Enter or click an entry to go to the selected page. Del removes an entry from the list if it is an entry from the history. Bookmarked entries can only be removed by deleting the associated bookmark.

13.2.2 Zooming

Firefox offers two zooming options: page zoom, the default, and text zoom. Page zoom enlarges the entire page as is, with all elements of a page, including graphics, expanding equally while text zoom only changes the text size.

To toggle between page and text zoom, from the menu bar, choose View / Zoom / Zoom Text Only. To zoom in or out either use the mouse wheel while holding the Ctrl key, or use Ctrl+ and Ctrl-. Reset the zoom factor with Ctrl0.

13.2.3 Tabbed browsing

Tabbed browsing allows you to load multiple Web sites in a single window. To switch between pages in use, use the tabs at the top of the window. If you often use more than one Web page at a time, tabbed browsing makes it easier to switch between pages.

Opening tabs

To open a new tab, from the menu bar, select File / New Tab or press CtrlT. This opens an empty tab in the Firefox window. To open a link on a Web page or a bookmark in a tab, middle-click it. Alternatively, right-click a link and select Open Link in New Tab. You may also open an address in the address bar in a new tab with a middle-click or by pressing CtrlEnter.

Closing tabs

Right-click a tab to open a context menu, giving you access to tab managing options such as closing, reloading, or bookmarking. To close a tab, you may also use CtrlW or click the close button. Any closed tab can be restored by choosing from the menu bar, History / Recently Closed Tabs. To reopen the last closed tab, either choose Undo Close Tab from the context menu or press CtrlShiftT.

Sorting tabs

By default, tabs are sorted in the order you opened them. Rearrange the tab order by dragging and dropping a tab to the new position. If you have opened a lot of tabs, they cannot all be displayed in the tab bar at the same time. Use the arrows at the ends of the bar to move left or right-click the down arrow at the right end of the tab bar to get a list of all tabs.

Dragging and dropping

Drag and drop also works with tabs. Drag a link onto an existing tab to open it in that tab or drag and drop a link on an empty space in the tab bar to open a new tab. Drag and drop a tab outside of the tab bar to open it in a new browser window.

13.2.4 Using the sidebar

Use the left side of your browser window for viewing bookmarks or browsing history. Extensions may add new ways to use the sidebar as well. To display the sidebar, from the menu bar, select View / Sidebar and select the contents.

13.3 Finding information

There are two ways to find information in Firefox. To search the Internet with a search engine, use the search bar. To search the page currently displayed, use the find bar.

13.3.1 Finding information on the Web

Firefox has a search bar that can access different engines like Google, Yahoo, or Amazon. For example, if you want to find information about SUSE using the current engine, click in the search bar, type SUSE, and press Enter. The results appear in your window.

To choose a different search engine, type your search term, then click one of the search provider icons at the bottom of the appearing pop-up.

13.3.1.1 Customizing the search bar

If you want to change the order, add, or delete a search engine, proceed as follows.

  1. Click the hamburger icon to the right of the search bar.

  2. From the list, select Settings.

  3. In the Settings window, go to Search.

  4. The Default Search Engine section shows the engine that is currently set as the default search engine.

  5. To select another search engine, click the drop-down menu and select an engine from the list.

Some Web sites offer search engines that you can add directly to the search bar. Whenever you are visiting such a Web site, the icon to the left of the search bar gains a + sign. Click the icon and select Add.

13.3.1.2 Adding keywords to your online searches

Firefox lets you define own keywords: abbreviations to use as a URL shortcut for a particular search engine. If you have defined ws as a keyword for the Wikipedia search, for example, you can type ws SEARCHTERM into the address bar to search Wikipedia for SEARCHTERM.

To assign a shortcut for a search engine from the search bar, click the hamburger icon to the right of the search bar and select Settings / Search. In the Search Shortcuts section, select a search engine, double-click its Keyword column, enter a keyword and press Enter.

It is also possible to define a keyword for any search field on a Web site. Proceed as follows:

  1. Right-click the search field and choose Add a Keyword for this Search from the menu that opens. The Add bookmark dialog appears.

  2. In Name, enter a descriptive name for this keyword.

  3. Enter your Keyword for this search.

  4. Save this keyword.

Tip
Tip: Keywords for regular Web sites

Using keywords is not restricted to search engines. You can also add a keyword to a bookmark (via the bookmark's properties). For example, if you assign suse to the SUSE home page bookmark, you can open it by typing suse into the address bar.

13.3.2 Searching in the current page

To search inside a Web page, in the menu bar, click Edit / Find in Page or press CtrlF. The find bar opens at the bottom of the window. Type your query in the text box. Firefox finds the first occurrence of this phrase as you type. You can find other occurrences of the phrase by pressing F3 or the Next button in the find bar. Clicking the Highlight All button will highlight all occurrences of the phrase. Checking the Match Case option makes the query case-sensitive.

Firefox also offers two quick-find options. Click anywhere you like to start a search on a Web page, type the key / followed by the search term. The first occurrence of the search term will be highlighted as you type. Use F3 to find the next occurrence. It is also possible to limit quick-find to links only. This search option is available by typing the key '.

13.4 Managing bookmarks

Bookmarks offer a convenient way of saving links to your favorite Web sites. Firefox not only makes it very easy to add new bookmarks with just one mouse click, it also offers multiple ways to manage large bookmark collections. You can sort bookmarks into folders, classify them with tags, or filter them with smart bookmark folders.

Add a bookmark by clicking the star in the address bar. The star will turn blue to indicate the page was bookmarked. The bookmark will be saved in the Bookmarks Toolbar folder under the page title. To change the name and folder of your bookmark or add tags, after bookmarking, click the star again. This will open a pop-up where you can make your changes.

To bookmark all open tabs, right-click in a tab and choose Select All Tabs. Right-click on any tab again and select Bookmark Tabs. Firefox asks you to create a new folder for the tab links.

To remove a bookmark, open the bookmarked location. Then, click the star and click Remove Bookmark.

13.4.1 Organizing bookmarks

The Library can be used to manage the properties (name and address location) for each bookmark and organize the bookmarks into folders and sections. It resembles Figure 13.3, “The Firefox bookmark library”.

The Firefox bookmark library
Figure 13.3: The Firefox bookmark library

To open the Library, in the menu bar, click Bookmarks / Manage Bookmarks. The library window is split into two parts: the left pane shows the folder tree view, the right pane the subfolders and bookmarks of the selected folder. Use Views to customize the right pane. The left pane contains three main folders:

History

Contains your complete browsing history. You cannot alter this list other than by deleting entries from it.

Tags

Lists bookmarks for each tag you have specified. See Section 13.4.2, “Tags” for more information on tags.

All Bookmarks

This category contains three main bookmark folders:

Bookmarks Toolbar

Contains the bookmarks and folders displayed beneath the location bar. See Section 13.4.4, “The bookmarks toolbar” for more information.

Bookmarks Menu

Holds the bookmarks and folder accessible via the Bookmarks entry in the main menu or the bookmarks side menu.

Other Bookmarks

Contains all bookmarks created with a single click on the star in the address bar. This folder is only visible in the library and the bookmarks sidebar.

Organize your bookmarks using the right pane. Choose actions for folders or bookmarks either from the context menu that opens when you right-click an item or from the Organize menu. The properties of a chosen folder or bookmark can be edited in the bottom part of the right pane. By default, only Name, URL, and Tags are displayed for a bookmark.

To rearrange your bookmarks, use the mouse to drag them. You can use this to move a bookmark or a folder to a different folder, or to change the order of bookmarks in a folder.

13.4.2 Tags

Tags offer a convenient way to file a bookmark under several categories. You can tag a bookmark with as many terms as you want. For example, to access all sites tagged with suse, enter suse into the address bar. For each tag, an item is automatically created in the Tags folder of the library. Drag and drop an item for a tag onto the bookmark toolbar to easily access it.

To add tags to a bookmark, open the bookmark in Firefox and click the blue star in the address bar. The Edit bookmark dialog opens where you can add a comma-separated list of tags. It is also possible to add tags via the bookmark properties dialog which you can open in the library, or by right-clicking a bookmark in the menu or the toolbar.

13.4.3 Importing and exporting bookmarks

To import bookmarks from another browser or from a file in HTML format, open the library by choosing from the menu bar, Bookmarks / Manage Bookmarks. To start the Import Wizard, click Import and Backup / Import Bookmarks from HTML and choose an import location. Start the import by clicking Next. Imports from an HTML file are imported as is.

Exporting bookmarks is also done via Import and Backup in the library window. To save your bookmarks as an HTML file, choose Export Bookmarks to HTML. To create a backup of your bookmarks, choose Backup. Firefox uses a JavaScript Object Notation file format (.json) for backups.

To restore a bookmark backup, click Import and Backup / Restore. Then locate the backup you want to restore from.

13.4.4 The bookmarks toolbar

The Bookmarks Toolbar is displayed beneath the address bar and lets you quickly access bookmarks. You can also add, organize, and edit bookmarks directly. To activate the Bookmarks Toolbar, select View  / Toolbars / Bookmarks Toolbar  / Always Show.

To edit the Bookmarks Toolbar, you can use the library as described in Section 13.4.1, “Organizing bookmarks”. Its content is located in the folder Bookmarks Toolbar. It is also possible to manage the toolbar directly. To add a folder, bookmark, or separator, right-click an empty space in the toolbar and select the appropriate entry from the pop-up menu. To add the current page to the bar, click the icon of the Web page in the address bar and drag it to the final position on the bookmarks toolbar.

To edit a certain folder or bookmark, right-click it. A menu opens where you can Remove Folder or change other settings. To move or copy an entry, choose Cut or Copy and Paste it to the final position.

13.5 Using the download manager

Keep track of your current and past downloads with the download manager. To start the download manager, in the menu bar, click Tools / Downloads. While downloading a file, a progress bar indicates the download status. If necessary, pause the download and resume it later. To open a downloaded file with the associated application, click Open. To open the location to which the file was saved, choose Open Containing Folder. Remove From History only deletes the entry from the download manager, however, it does not delete the file from the hard disk.

By default, all files are downloaded to ~/Downloads. To change this behavior, in the menu bar, click Edit / Settings. Go to General. Under Downloads, either choose another location or Always ask you where to save files.

Tip
Tip: Resuming downloads

If your browser crashes or is closed while downloading, all pending downloads will automatically be resumed in the background when starting Firefox the next time. A download that was paused before the browser was closed can be resumed manually via the download manager.

13.6 Security

Note
Note: FTP support stopped

For security reasons Mozilla has removed the default support for clicking on FTP links in Firefox. You can enable this support by adding network.gio.supported-protocols=ftp: via the about:config settings. This will enable desktop support via the GNOME Virtual File System (GVFS). See the GVFS documentation for all supported protocols.

Since browsing the Internet has become more risky, Firefox offers various measures to make browsing safer. It automatically checks whether you are trying to access a site known to contain harmful software (malware) or a site known to steal sensitive data (phishing) and stops you from entering these sites. The Instant Web Site ID lets you easily check a site's legitimacy, and a password manager and the pop-up blocker offer additional security. With Private Browsing, you can surf the Internet without Firefox recording data on your computer.

13.6.1 Instant Web site ID

Firefox allows you to check the identity of a Web page with a single glance. The icon in the address bar next to the address indicates which identity information is available and whether communication is encrypted:

Gray globe

The site does not provide any identity information and communication between Web server and browser is not encrypted. Do not exchange sensitive information with such sites.

Gray triangle

This site is from a domain that has been verified by a certificate, so you can be sure that you are really connected to the very site it claims to be. However, the site tried to load additional elements, such as images or scripts over an insecure connection. Firefox has blocked these items. Therefore, the page can look broken.

Gray padlock

This site is from a domain that has been verified by a certificate, so you can be sure that you are really connected to the very site it claims to be. Communication with a gray-padlock site is always encrypted.

Green padlock

This site completely identifies itself by a certificate that ensures a site is owned by the person or organization it claims to be. This is especially important when exchanging very sensitive data (for example when doing money transactions over the Internet). In this case you can be sure to be on the Web site of your bank when it sends complete identity information. Communication with a green-padlock server is always encrypted.

To view detailed identity information, click the icon of the Web site in the address bar. In the opening pop-up, click More Information to open the Page Info window. Here, you can view the site's certificate, the encryption level, and information about stored passwords and cookies.

On the Permissions tab, you can set per-site permissions for image loading, pop-ups, cookies and installation permissions. The Media tab lists all images, background graphics and embedded objects from a site and displays further information on each item together with a preview. It also lets you save individual items.

The Firefox page info window
Figure 13.4: The Firefox page info window

13.6.2 Importing certificates

Firefox comes with a certificate store for identifying certificate authorities (CA). Using these certificates enables the browser to automatically verify certificates issued by Web sites. If a Web site issues a certificate that has not been signed by one of the CAs from the certificate store, it is not trusted. This ensures that no spoofed certificates are accepted.

Large organizations usually use their own certificate authorities in-house and distribute the respective certificates via the system-wide certificate store located at /etc/pki/nssdb. To configure Firefox (and other Mozilla tools, such as Thunderbird) to use this system-wide CA store in addition to its own, export the NSS_USE_SHARED_DB variable. For example, you can add the following line to ~/.bashrc:

export NSS_USE_SHARED_DB=1

Alternatively, or additionally, you can import certificates manually. To do so, in the menu bar, open the Preferences dialog by clicking Edit / Settings. Select Privacy & Security / Certificates / View Certificates / Your Certificates / Import and select the certificate to import. Only import certificates you absolutely trust!

13.6.3 Password management

Each time you enter a user name and a password on a Web site, Firefox offers to store this data. A pop-up at the top of the page opens, asking you whether you want Firefox to save the password. If you accept by clicking Save, the password will be stored on your hard disk in an encrypted format. The next time you access this site, Firefox will automatically fill in the login data.

To review or manage your passwords, open the password manager by clicking Edit / Settings / Privacy & Security / Logins and Passwords  / Saved Logins in the menu bar. The password manager opens with a list of sites and their corresponding user names. By default, the passwords are not displayed. You can click the eye icon to display them. To delete single or all entries from the list, click Remove or Remove All, respectively.

To protect your passwords from unauthorized access, you can set a master password that is required when managing or adding passwords. In the menu bar, click Edit / Settings, choose the category Privacy & Security and activate Use a Primary Password.

13.6.4 Private browsing

By default, Firefox keeps track of your browsing history by storing content and links of visited Web sites, cookies, downloads, passwords, search terms, and formula data. Collecting and storing this data makes browsing faster and more convenient. However, when you use a public terminal or a friend's computer, for example, you could turn this behavior off. In Private Browsing mode, Firefox will not keep track of your browsing history nor will it cache the content of pages you have visited.

To enable the Private Browsing mode, in the menu bar, click File / New Private Window. The current Web site and all open tabs will be replaced by the Private Browsing information screen. As long as you will browse in private mode, the string Private Browsing will be displayed in the titlebar of the window.

Disable Private Browsing by closing the private window.

To make Private Browsing the default mode, open the Privacy & Security tab in the Settings window as described in Section 13.7.1, “Preferences”. Go to the History section. Choose Use custom settings for History from the drop-down menu and check the Always use private browsing mode.

Note
Note: Bookmarks and downloads

Downloads and bookmarks you made during Private Browsing mode will be kept.

13.7 Customizing Firefox

Firefox can be customized extensively.

  • Change the way Firefox behaves by altering the preferences.

  • Add functionality by installing extensions.

  • Change the look and feel by installing themes.

To manage extensions, themes and plug-ins, Firefox has an add-ons manager.

13.7.1 Preferences

Firefox offers a wide range of configuration options. These are available by choosing Edit / Settings in the menu bar. Each option is described in detail in the online help, which can be accessed by clicking the question mark icon in the dialog.

The preferences window
Figure 13.5: The preferences window

13.7.1.1 Session management

By default, Firefox automatically restores your session—windows and tabs—only after it has crashed, or after a restart because of an extension. However, it can be configured to restore a session every time it is started: open the Preferences dialog as described in Section 13.7.1, “Preferences” and go to the category General. In the Startup section, set the option Restore previous session.

When you have multiple windows open they will only be restored the next time when you close all of them at once with File / Quit (from the menu bar) or with CtrlQ. If you close the windows one by one, only the last window will be restored.

13.7.1.2 Language preferences for Web sites

When sending a request to a Web server, the browser always sends the information about which language is preferred by the user. Web sites that are available in more than one language (and are configured to evaluate this language parameter) will display their pages in the language the browser requests. On SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, the preferred language is preconfigured to use the same language as the desktop. To change this setting, open the Preferences window as described in Section 13.7.1, “Preferences”, go to the category General and choose your preferred language in the Language and Appearance section.

13.7.1.3 Spell-checking

By default, Firefox spell-checks what you type when typing into multiple-line text boxes. Misspelled words are underlined in red. To correct a word, right-click it and select the correct spelling from the context menu. You may also add the word to the dictionary, if it is correct.

To change or add a dictionary, right-click anywhere in a multi-line text box and select the appropriate option from the context menu. Here you may also disable spell-checking for this text box. If you want to globally disable spell-checking, open the Preferences window as described in Section 13.7.1, “Preferences” and go to the category General. Deactivate Check your spelling as you type in the Language and Appearance section.

13.7.2 Add-ons

Extensions let you personalize Firefox to fit your needs. With extensions, you can change the look and feel of Firefox, enhance existing functionality, and add functions. For example, extensions can enhance the download manager, show the weather, or control Web music players. Other extensions assist Web developers or increase security by blocking content such as ads or scripts.

There are thousands of extensions available for Firefox. With the add-ons manager, you can install, enable, disable, update, and remove extensions.

If you do not like the standard look and feel of Firefox, install a new theme. Themes do not change the functionality, only the appearance of the browser.

13.7.2.1 Installing add-ons

To add an extension or theme, start the add-ons manager with Tools / Add-Ons and Themes from the menu bar. It opens the Add-ons Manager either displaying a choice of recommended add-ons or the results of your last search.

Use the Find more add-ons field to search for specific add-ons. Click an entry in the list to view a short description. Install the add-on by clicking Add to Firefox.

Installing Firefox extensions
Figure 13.6: Installing Firefox extensions

To activate freshly installed extensions or themes, Firefox sometimes needs to be restarted by clicking Restart now in the add-ons manager. Restart this way to make sure that your browsing session will be restored.

13.7.2.2 Managing add-ons

The Add-ons Manager also offers a convenient interface to manage extensions, themes, and plug-ins. Extensions can be enabled, disabled or uninstalled. If an extension is configurable, its configuration options can be accessed via the Preferences button. In the Themes tab, you may Uninstall a theme, or activate a different theme by clicking Enable. Pending extension and theme installations are also listed. Select Cancel to stop the installation. Although you cannot install Plugins as a user, you may disable or enable them with the Add-ons Manager.

Some add-ons require you to restart the browser when you uninstall or disable them. In such cases, after clicking either of these actions, a Restart now link appears in the add-ons manager.

13.8 Printing from Firefox

Before you actually print a Web page, a print preview is shown. From the menu bar, choose File / Print or press CtrlP. The Printer dialog opens. Configure paper size and orientation per printer.

13.9 More information

To get more information about Firefox, see the following links:

Mozilla forums: https://www.mozilla.org/about/forums/
Main Menu reference: http://support.mozilla.org/kb/Menu+reference
Preferences reference: http://support.mozilla.org/kb/Options+window
Key combinations: http://support.mozilla.org/kb/Keyboard+shortcuts