Browsing the Web with Firefox

Browsing the Web with Firefox

After the Firefox web browser is loaded, a new Firefox browser application window appears on your desktop showing the default Fedora Core information page, as shown in Figure.

1. Clicking the web browser icon opens the Firefox web browser on the desktop.

Each item shown in Figure performs an important function while you are using Firefox:

  • The URL bar shows the address of the currently displayed website and enables you to enter addresses for new websites that are to be displayed.

  • The Status bar shows the progress Firefox is making in loading a new web page.

  • The Personal toolbar contains a list of folders and bookmarks to enable you to more easily collect and visit your favorite websites.

  • The currently displayed web page is the large area of the application window in which you can interact with the site you're currently visiting.

Visiting a Website

To visit a new website, move your pointer so that it is inside the URL bar and double-click. The currently displayed URL address is highlighted. After the current URL is highlighted, begin typing the URL you want to visit; the original URL disappears as you enter the new address. Press Enter when you finish typing the URL. Figure shows Firefox displaying the URL, otherwise known as Yahoo!, one of the most popular destinations on the Web.

Figure. After you enter the new URL,, Firefox loads and displays the page.

What Is a URL?

URL stands for uniform resource locator; a URL is more commonly known simply as an address. You know an Internet address or URL because it begins with a word followed by a colon and two slashes, like http://for websites or ftp:// for file transfer protocol archives that hold downloadable files.

Increase the Screen Area Used by Your Browser

The browser window in Figure has been maximized so that it occupies the entire screen. To maximize your browser window, click the Maximize Window button near the upper right of the window's title bar.

Like most websites, the opening Yahoo! page is too long to be displayed within a single screen of information. You can scroll upward and downward by clicking and dragging on the scrollbar at the right edge of the Firefox window or by turning the scroll wheel on your pointing device (if it has one). For pages that are also too wide to fit into the Firefox window horizontally, you can scroll left and right by clicking and dragging on the scrollbar at the bottom edge of the Firefox window.

Navigating Websites

Browsing the Web is not simply a matter of entering new URLs into the URL bar; central to the life of the World Wide Web is the hyperlink, a word or image displayed in the browser window that, when clicked, automatically loads and displays a new URL. As you move your mouse pointer around the browser window, you know that you have encountered a hyperlink when the appearance of the mouse pointer changes from an arrow to a hand.

Figure shows the result of clicking the word Health shown in Figure. Notice that the URL in the URL bar is updated to reflect the address of the page that is now being displayed.

Figure. Clicking a hyperlink at causes this site,, to be displayed. The new URL is reflected in the URL bar. The Back button also becomes active.

After you view at least two sites in succession, either by entering new URLs yourself or by clicking hyperlinks, the Back button becomes active. The Back button enables you to return to the URL you were viewing immediately before the URL currently being displayed.

Similarly, after you click the Back button, the Forward button becomes active. After you click the Back button to return to an earlier URL, you can use the Forward button to return again to the later URL. Both the Back and Forward buttons are shown clearly in Figure.

Sometimes You Want to Go Further Back

Sometimes it is helpful to be able to return to a URL you visited several sites ago. Rather than clicking the Back button repeatedly, try clicking the small downward arrow to the right of the Back button. Clicking this arrow displays a drop-down list containing your historya list of the most recent few URLs you have loadedand you can then choose to return to any of them by clicking its entry in the list.

The small downward arrow to the right of the Forward button provides similar functionality but moves you forward through the list instead.

Remembering URLs You Like

Sometimes as you're clicking hyperlinks, visiting page after page on the Web, you encounter a web page whose address you would like to save so that you can return directly to it at some later time. Instead of trying to remember the URL displayed in the URL bar or writing down the URL somewhere, you can use the Firefox bookmarks function to remember the address for you.

A browser bookmark functions in much the same way that a real bookmark does. It saves your place so that you can return to the same location later without a lot of extra searching or legwork. Remembering a URL this way is known as bookmarking it.

To bookmark any site you are currently viewing, choose Bookmarks, Bookmark This Page, as shown in Figure. A dialog box will appear to confirm that you want to bookmark the page. Click the Add button to confirm your bookmark.

4. Choosing to bookmark the current page causes its address to be remembered for easy access later.

Bookmarks that you create this way are added as clickable options to the bottom of the Bookmarks menu. Figure shows the new bookmark just added in Figure. After you create a bookmark, you can reload the page at any time by choosing Bookmarks and then the entry for the URL you want to visit.

5. New bookmarks are added to the bottom of the Book-marks menu for later use.

Organizing Your Bookmarked URLs

When you begin to browse the Web extensively using Fedora Core 4 and Firefox, you're likely to collect more and more bookmarks over time. As your list of bookmarked URLs becomes longer and longer, having newly bookmarked URLs added to the end of the Bookmarks menu will become more inconvenient. The menu will eventually grow longer than your screen!

To help battle this problem, Firefox contains a Bookmark Manager, which you can use to categorize your bookmarks into submenus. To start the Bookmark Manager, choose Bookmarks, Manage Bookmarks from the Firefox toolbar. The Bookmark Manager appears, as shown in Figure.

6. The Bookmark Manager is used to categorize your bookmarks. To open the Bookmark Manager, choose Bookmarks, Manage Bookmarks.

The Bookmark Manager displays bookmarks in a tree view, with the following properties:

  • All folders in the tree view have a small plus (+) or minus () icon next to them. To show the contents of a folder, click the plus icon; the contents are displayed and the plus is replaced by a minus. To hide the contents of the folder again, click the minus.

  • All folders in the tree can contain both bookmarks and additional folders, which can in turn contain their own bookmarks and additional folders.

  • Each folder represents a menu or submenu. For example, if you were to create a folder called Politics in the Bookmark Manager, its contents would show up as a submenu called Politics in the Bookmarks menu.

  • The Bookmarks folder in the Bookmark Manager contains all other bookmarks and folders and represents the Bookmarks menu itself.

  • You can create new folders by selecting the location where you want them to appear in the tree and then clicking New Folder in the Bookmark Manager toolbar.

  • You can move bookmarks and folders around the tree and move them in and out of folders in the tree simply by clicking and dragging and then dropping them into your desired location.

Because the tree view of the Bookmark Manager can be a little confusing to new users, an illustration will help. Notice the list of bookmarks shown in Figure. By following these steps, you can move the two news sites, CNN and BBC News, into their own folder called News Web Sites (shown later in Figure):

Single-click the Yahoo Health bookmark to indicate that you want to place the new folder immediately before it.

Click New Folder on the Bookmark Manager toolbar. A new folder appears in the tree, and the dialog box shown in Figure asks for a new folder name.

7. When adding a new folder, you need to supply a name.

After entering the name News Web Sites for the folder and clicking OK to dismiss the dialog box, click and drag the bookmarks for the CNN and BBC News websites over the new folder, releasing your mouse button when its name is highlighted. This will place the bookmark being dragged into the folder. The results, after clicking the plus icon to display its updated contents, are shown in Figure.

8. The results of creating a new folder called News Web Sites and moving the CNN and BBC News bookmarks into it.

Whenever you make changes to your bookmarks using the Bookmark Manager, the contents of your Bookmarks menu also change. When you are done editing your bookmarks, simply close the Bookmark Manager by clicking the Close button on the application window or by choosing File, Close from the Bookmark Manager's menu bar. Figure shows the updated Bookmarks menu in Firefox, with the News Web Sites submenu open.

9. After you close the Bookmark Manager, the new Bookmarks menu contains the News Web Sites submenu.

Browsing with Tabs

Whether for the purpose of comparing two websites or for some other reason, it is often helpful to be able to load two web pages at the same time and then switch between them quickly. Rather than use two browser windows to accomplish this task, Firefox offers another solution: tabbed browsing.

Tabbed browsing is a method of keeping two or more web pages loaded at the same time and allowing you to switch between them with a single click. To create a new tab, press Ctrl+T. A tab index appears, and a second tab is created, as shown in Figure.

10. A new tab is created; it is currently blank because no URL has been entered yet. The original web page is still in Firefox's memory; you can display it by clicking its tab.

Each tab can hold its own web page. To load a web page into a tab, click the tab you want to use, enter the desired URL into the URL box, and press Enter. The title of the web page loaded into a given tab is always displayed on the tab's label. Each time you want to create an additional tab, press Ctrl+T or choose File, New, Navigator Tab from the Firefox application window's menu bar.

To delete a tab, follow these steps:

Click the tab you want to delete. This activates the tab, and the content it contains is displayed.

After the tab you want to delete is displayed, either click the X to the extreme right of the tabs index, or right-click the tab in question and choose Close Tab from the pop-up context menu that appears.

Disabling Pop-Up Windows and Window Scripts

Firefox is flexible and powerful enough to help you avoid common annoyances on the Web. By default, Firefox is configured to prevent the appearance of various types of pop-up windows. Sometimes this kind of functionality is desirablefor example, when a site opens a window that contains specific functionality or information in response to your click. Most pop-up windows and most scripts that resize or hide windows, however, are not terribly helpful and are not related to content that you actually want to see; most users find these types of Web advertisements and scripts to be annoying.

To enable or disable nonrequested pop-up windows or prevent websites from manipulating your existing windows, choose Edit, Preferences to display the Firefox Preferences dialog box.

In the list of categories on the left, click the Web Features icon. Check the box labeled Block Popup Windows, as shown in Figure, to prevent websites you visit from displaying unrequested popup windows. Leave the box unchecked if you want to allow all popup windows

11. Access the popup window controls by choosing Edit, Preferences, Web Features. Check the box labeled Block Popup Windows to prevent popups.

Want to Allow Only Certain Popups?

You can also elect to allow popup windows only from a limited list of predetermined sites. To do so, check the Block Popup Windows box, then click the Allowed Sites button. A dialog will appear asking you to enter the URLs of sites that should be allowed to open popup windows on your computer system.

Uncheck the box labeled Allow web sites to install software, shown in Figure, to prevent websites you visit from installing unwanted software on your computer system.

12. Uncheck the box labeled Allow web sites to install software if you don't want websites to be able to install software on your computer system.

After you make the necessary changes, click OK to save them and close the Preferences dialog box.

Exiting Firefox

To exit Firefox at any time, choose File, Quit or click the Close button at the extreme upper right of the application window. If you are browsing with multiple open browser tabs, take care when you close Firefox to ensure that you have bookmarked any sites that you want to return to in the future and that you have finished using the content in any of the open browser tabs.

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