Monday, June 8, 2009

10 ways to optimize Firefox

Everybody who enjoys customizing Firefox has probably used several extensions and might have even experienced slower performance and memory hogging. Though Firefox has long been accused of leaking memory, there are simple ways to reduce RAM usage and increase speed. Here are a few extensions and tips designed to lighten your load.

PDF Download

Adobe Acrobat files (PDFs) can be a major source of Firefox sluggishness. When a plug-in like Acrobat Reader is loaded in Firefox, it isn’t unloaded until you quit the browser. This helpful extension will ask whether you want to open a PDF file in Firefox, translate it to HTML (via Google), download it locally, or cancel the link.

Download PDF Download



Flash-based ads can be very irritating, and also takes up your bandwidth. This extension will appear whenever it detects and blocks Flash content. The blocked content is replaced with a play button, so you can choose to play the blocked Flash-based content.

Download FlashBlock

Control animations with about:config

If you’ve never used about:config, you’re missing out. Type about:config into your Firefox address bar and hit Enter. One easy configuration change is limiting animated images. Double-click image.animation_mode and change it to ‘none’ to stop all animated images, or ‘once’ to let them run through once. You can revert to the default behavior with ‘normal’.

Back-Forward cache


Back to the about:config screen: Firefox has a special “Back-Forward cache” for recently visited pages that works differently than the regular browser cache. The default setting for browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers, “-1,” will save up to 8 pages if you have more than 512MB RAM on your PC. Reduce the number to zero for maximum memory savings.

Disable/uninstall extensions


Greasemonkey and Platypus are extremely cool to play around with, but how much do you actually use them? Are you OK with restarting Firefox every time you want to use Gmail Space? For faster performance, disable extensions you don’t use often, and uninstall those you never use.



One of the biggest complaints against Firefox is how it handles JavaScript. This invaluable extension blocks all Java and JavaScript by default, then lets you add sites to your whitelist as you surf. If you’re the micromanaging type, this one’s for you.

Download NoScript



This executable is not an extension, but rather a collection of optimization settings that can be automatically configured with Firefox. Simply input your computer and connection speeds, and FireTune does the rest. It won’t likely reduce memory usage, but it should speed up your browsing, especially on lower-end systems.

Download FireTune

Clean up downloads

Clean Downloads

Does Firefox ever stall slightly when you begin to download a file? One possible problem could be that you’ve got more completed downloads than the Firefox Download Manager can handle. Hit Ctrl+J to bring up your recent downloads, and if you’ve got more than 20, clean them out.

Zap and other bookmarklets

The Zap allows to disable annoying scripts, plug-ins, and event handlers to improve performance which you can find via Jesse’s Bookmarklets site. Bookmarklets are small JavaScript programs that can be saved as bookmarks. Simply drag the Zap link into your Bookmarks Toolbar and hit it whenever you want to kill annoyances on Web pages.

Start in Safe Mode

Safe Mode

For Firefox and Thunderbird, Mozilla enables a Safe Mode that loads the application without themes or extensions. If you’ve lost the included shortcut, you can start in Safe Mode by clicking the Windows Start button, then selecting Run, and entering “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe” -safe-mode. If you notice a dramatic improvement, it’s likely an extension or theme that’s slowing you down. Disable them one by one until you find the culprit.

Orginal Article by Peter Butler

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