CyberNotes
Web Browser Wednesday




Over the past few weeks I have been trying to break away from using my mouse and that starts with learning keyboard shortcuts for individual programs. About 60-70% of the time that I’m on my computer is spent using Firefox, so that is my primary focus right now. However,  built-in keyboard shortcuts don’t seem to be enough…so I was on the hunt for extensions.

 

–Mouseless Browsing (Homepage)–

The first, and most obvious, extension that I came about was called Mouseless Browsing. It is a dream come true for any keyboard lover. It essentially numbers every single hyperlink on a webpage so that you can quickly enter in that number and be directed to the site that it links to. In the following screenshot I point to several examples of the extension placing the numbers next to several hyperlinks:

Mouseless Browsing in Firefox

Obviously those numbers can get annoying pretty quickly so there is a way to hide them. In the options for the extension you’ll find a setting that says “Show ids only on demand” which means you have to press a key to show the numbers. The key that needs to be pressed is customizable on the “Keys” tab:

Now there is a slight conflict with this extension if you use the option in Firefox to “Find as you type” letters or numbers on the keyboard. That is one of my favorite features and I surely didn’t want to do without it, but if you start typing a number it will do a “Find as you type” search within the page instead of executing the link that corresponds to that number. To get around that there is an option in the Mouseless Browsing extension to “Use the numpad exclusively for Mouseless Browsing.” This doesn’t work well for laptops but for desktops with full keyboards it will assign the number pad to Mouseless browsing and the numbers located above the letters can still be used for the “Find as you type.”

Mouseless Browsing is very customizable and you can even change the style of the numbers that are displayed with a little knowledge of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). There are also several different keyboard shortcuts that you can customize such as additional keys for scrolling up/down, which the extension uses the -/+ keys by default.

 

–Tab Catalog (Homepage)–

The Ctrl+Tab key combination in Firefox will shuffle through your open tabs but if you have a bunch open it could take awhile to find that one certain site that you are looking for. Tab Catalog is an amazing replacement for the default Ctrl+Tab behavior and you’ll be amazed at how quick you get used to it.

Tab Catalog

It works just like the normal Ctrl+Tab where you hold down the Control key and each time you press the Tab key it will switch to a new thumbnail. Once you have the desired site highlighted just release the Control key and it will make the switch.

Alternately, you can assign a key to “more permanently” open the thumbnail display of your tabs. Then you could, *gasp*, use your mouse to navigate the thumbnails and close tabs without ever leaving the current view. This and other things, such as assigning shortcut keys to each thumbnail for extra-speedy switching, can be configured using the extension’s Options:

Tab Catalog

While using the Ctrl+Tab you might notice that the tabs are sorted in the order that they are displayed in the Tab Bar. Much like the Alt+Tab combination in your operating system you can alter Tab Catalog to sort the tabs in the order that they were recently focused.

 

–Summary–

Those are the two extensions that I have found so far that really help me break away from my mouse when using Firefox. The typical keyboard shortcuts can only do so much but these two extensions take it a little further. Let us know of any extensions you use that keep your hand from suctioning itself to the mouse!