Firefox, Part (2): Some Initial Tweaking

Before we go full out to customize your browser, we need to change some of Firefox’s default options. In the Menu bar, click Tools and then Options. You’ll end up with a page that looks like this:

There are tabs at the top of the Options menu for different categories. The first one that is shown is the Main category. Looking at the first option, choose what you want Firefox to display right when you open it. You can choose to show a blank page or a home page. If you choose a homepage you can simply type in the url in the box. Note the button that says “Use Current Pages”. If you were to click on this, all of the tabbed pages that you currently have open would become your home pages. Every time you opened Firefox, all of those pages would open. Nifty, eh? Keep in mind that the more yo have, the longer it will take to load.

You can also choose what you want to happen to downloads. I would suggest saving them to Desktop, as is set to default. Otherwise, choose any folder you wish, or tell Firefox that you want it to always ask you where to save files. I would also suggest checking the box next to “Close it when all downloads are finished.” There is no real reason to keep the Download window open.

You may be looking for the “Apply” button at this point. Firefox doesn’t do this, like IE does. Once you change a setting, it’s changed. There are no extra steps. Now click on the “Privacy” tab.

If you find yourself using the History frequently, then you won’t need to change anything. If you are interested in maximum privacy, so that someone else using your computer will have no idea what sites you have visited or what you have downloaded, uncheck the first three boxes.

An important note here: you must decided on a balance between privacy/safety and ease of use. By allowing Firefox to remember your history, downloads, and search bar/form information, you don’t have to do as much typing or remembering yourself. But, this means that this same information is stored somewhere on your computer, so that someone savvy enough can find it.

In the Cookies section, click the drop-down list and change it to “Keep until: I close Firefox“. I won’t go into any kind of detail about what cookies are, but in a nut shell they are little files that websites store on your computer. These will usually have information so that the same website can then check your cookies later, and see if you have visited their site. This is both useful (so you don’t have to put in the same information every time you visit a website) and of privacy concern (cookies can be used to track your browsing habits and to collect other information).

Many sites will require that you allow cookies, so have all of your cookies deleted automatically every time you close Firefox is your best bet here. And you’ll notice that you can set exceptions. So, if there is a website that you want to remember your zip code, for example, you can put that website in the “exceptions” list. This will make it so that the cookie put on your computer by that website will not be purged.

The other default settings are fine for most people. Feel free to explore the options and change them as you please; you can always change them back later.

Back to Part (1) | Continue to Part (3)

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