OK, so some friends and family have been asking me how I keep up with so much stuff online and still get anything done.
(I do get things done by the way.)
So I would like to offer…
Jason’s Shack ‘o’ Browsing Tips!
- tip the first: Mozilla Firefox! This is the most important step you can take towards a speedier and more productive online experience. The majority of the following tips will not help you without Firefox as your browser. Believe me, you will not regret it. Firefox includes built-in pop-up blocking and an integrated search bar (which defaults to Google), and has a vast number of extensions available for further customisation. And for those few sites that only work in IE, the number of those sites is decreasing every day — the very small amount of time that you need to spend using IE to access these sites will be more than paid back through the time-savings you will have through using Firefox. Go download it. Right now.
- tip the second: Tabbed browsing. No more clicking back and forth between pages as you try to read a page and follow the links in the page. Simply open the links in a new tab and continue on. And being able to save a set of tabs as a single bookmarks, or even set your homepage to be a whole set of bookmarks, is just dandy. Flip between tabs using the mouse, or even better by hitting
ctrl-tab. To open a link in a new tab with your mouse, either press
ctrlas you click the left mouse button or click on the center button or scroll wheel. Using your keyboard, press
ctrlas you type
- tip the third: Keyboard shortcuts. Learn them and use them. Your mouse is only slowing you down. The ones that I use the most are
ctrl-lmoves the focus to the location bar (sometimes it’s a whole lot faster to just type the address of the site you are looking for rather than mouse through all your bookmarks).
ctrl-kmoves the focus to the search bar.
Alt-left-arrowmoves you back to your previous page and
alt-right-arrowmove you forward a page.
- tip the fourth: RSS and Bloglines.com. More and more websites are publishing their content through RSS feeds, which is an XML format that allows content to be syndicated and viewed through a variety of services. The medium that I use the most is Bloglines.com, which is a web-based feed reader — you create a free account with Bloglines and subscribe to the feeds that you want to read. Bloglines then periodically checks the feeds for your subscribed sites for updated content. Then, when you go to your Bloglines page, you are shown the sites which have new content and can view the new content directly in your Bloglines page. This works best for sites that are primarily text-based content, but there are feeds for photo galleries, comic strips, and many other forms of content. This is a huge time saver — rather than checking each individual site in your list of bookmarks for new content, you only have to go to one site for all updates. (Further info available through RSS feeds)
- tip the fifth: SuperDragAndGo. SuperDragAndGo is a Firefox extension that allows you to select a piece of text or a URL on a webpage and “throw it” (drag it slightly). Once “thrown”, if the text is a website address or a link, it will open a new tab to that site. For all other text, it will do a Google Search on the selected text. So if you find a phrase that you want to do a search on, you just select it and drag it slightly — voila! a search is initiated. (And throwing an image will open up a dialogue box to save the image to your computer.)
- tip the sixth: Find-as-you-Type. In Firefox, go to Tools > Options > Advanced. There, under the Accessibility tab you will see a checkbox next to “Begin finding as you begin typing”. Check this box. Then, when you are on a page, just begin typing the word you are looking for and it will begin an incremental search throughout the document. Type “j”, and it will go to the first word beginning with “j”. Type “a”, it will move to the first word beginning with “ja”. Delete “a” and it goes back to “j”. And so on. It makes searching within a single page a single-step process and far more intuitive — you just type what you want to find. What could be simpler that that?
- tip the seventh: Keywords. One last Firefox tip! In your Bookmarks, if you select Properties, one of the available properties of each link is a keyword. This keyword can be whatever you want it to be. So if you are regularly heading over to lifehacker.com for a dose of lifehackery, set the keyword for your Lifehacker bookmark to “1″. Then, you can simply enter
ctrl-lto move to the location bar, type”1″ and then
Enter, and you’re on your way!
While these are not all of my browsing secrets (I can’t give away all the magic), you will definitely find these will enable you to make your time online much more productive.
(i.e. You’ll have more time to look at cute pictures of cats.)