Firefox is a lovely browser. It’s quick, has good extension support, and its developers have a much better attitude to privacy than its main competitor.
There are a few default behaviours which are tuned for user-friendliness instead of caution.
Disable fallback searches going to Google
If you type anything into the URL bar but it’s not a URL, then Firefox will fall back to your default search engine and start a search.
Sometimes you typed into the wrong box, or you typo’d the URL you intended, or you were trying to go directly to a page in your history by typing a couple of keywords but typed too many keywords and it vanished, and now your search engine knows that you were looking for amazon wedding ring.
I do this a lot by typing fa to go to Facebook, but pressing enter before it catches up and suggests Facebook.
- test that it’s currently enabled: open a new tab, and type
foointo your address bar; if this is enabled, it’ll send you to a Google/etc search result for “foo”
about:configinto your address bar and click through the warning (it’s OK, you know what you’re doing, you’re with me!)
keyword.enabledinto the search bar on the page
- in a default install, it’s set to the value
- double-click it and the row will change value to
falseand the text will turn bold to show it’s been modified
- test it by opening a new tab, typing
foointo your address bar, and expect a failure result like this:
Add search bar in toolbar
We just disabled searches from the address bar, but searches are useful. Let’s add a secondary search bar. Older users may remember when this was the default.
Open Firefox’s preferences (Windows: Tools -> Options, Mac: ⌘+comma), click Search on the left, and click “Add search bar in toolbar”.
Pro tip: if you click the magnifying glass in the search bar, you see those icons at the bottom? You can type a search query and press (Windows: ctrl+down, Mac: opt+down) to search a specific site.
The Facebook Container extension by Mozilla is also great for keeping your Facebook identity only to Facebook sites (so they can’t track you around the web).