This guide is intended for those who have made the decision to swap to Firefox. If you are still deciding then you should first read part one of this article which deals with the pros and cons of changing.
1. Download the product
You can download the latest version of Firefox for free from here:
The current version is V3.6 and the Windows installation file is 7.7MB
2. Uninstall any old versions
If you have any previous versions of Firefox, then uninstall them before you install the new version. Don't worry about losing your settings and extensions, they will be saved and transferred to the new version. Technically there is no need need to uninstall older versions as Firefox will write over old versions and retain your settings. However based on feedback from my subscribers there appears to be fewer problems if you uninstall first.
There is no need to uninstall Internet Explorer. In fact, it's surprisingly difficult to do so as it is so closely integrated into the Windows operating system. Just don't do it. Besides you may need it to view some non standards compliant web sites.
3. Install Firefox
Locate the file you downloaded in step 1. It should be called Firefox Setup 3.6.exe or something very similar. Double click on the file to start installation.
Once the install is under way agree to the license and accept the suggested default options.
At one stage in the Firefox installation you will be asked whether you want to make Firefox your default browser. I suggest you initially answer "no." That way you can test out Firefox without altering any of your current Windows settings.
If at a later date you want to make Firefox your default browser you can do so by selecting this option from within Firefox.
After installation, the Firefox Import Setting Wizard will run asking whether you want to import your favorites, internet options, cookies, saved passwords and a variety of other data settings from Internet Explorer. Answer "yes" to all- having all this information within Firefox makes for a much smoother transition.
4. Install Firefox Extensions
The standard version of Firefox is rather plain vanilla. Sure it has tabbed browsing and an in-built popup and phishing filter but this is only the starting point. To really see what Firefox can do you need to install extensions to add extra functionality to the product.
There are more than 1000 free extensions available. You can find many of them at the link below and even more by doing a Google search on "Firefox extension" or "Firefox add-ons."
Don't go mad and install scores of extensions. Just install those you'll definitely find useful. Listed below are the ones I consider most useful to average users. I've installed all of these on my PC and find each to be a little gem. Together they make Firefox work just the way I like.
But it's different strokes for different folks so don't limit yourself to my choices. By all means use this selection as a guide but definitely try some others. Hey installation and un-installation is simple and the extensions are all free, so experiment to find out what works best for you.
AdBlock Filters ads from web pages. Very effective.
Tab Mix Plus Much more control over how tabs work
SessionSaver Saves tab sessions on demand and optionally when Firefox closes.
FlashGot Integrates FlashGet, GetRight and dozens of other download accelerators into Firefox
Fasterfox Tweaks Firefox to run faster on broadband connections.
Google Tool Bar The original Google Tool Bar now available for Firefox
Add Bookmark Here Easy way to quickly bookmark a site to any folder.
IEView Lite Opens the current web page in Internet Explorer
Mimimize to Tray Useful for keeping Firefox open but hidden. Use trunk version at bottom of page.
Sage A lightweight RSS and Atom reader,
You can get most of these directly from http://update.mozilla.org/extensions or just click on the links above.
To install an extension is as simple as clicking the "Install" link that you'll find alongside the extension description. Remember that an extension is not fully installed until you re-start Firefox. Once it is installed you can access any setup options for the extension by selecting Tools/Extensions from within Firefox and right clicking the extension.
You may run into problems if you try to install an extension from anything but the official Mozilla site. That's because the security measures built into Firefox don't allow just any site to install programs on your computer. A good thing I think you'll agree.
If you try to install an extension from an unknown page, Firefox will flash up a pale yellow bar at the top of the page saying that Firefox prevented the software from installing. To authorize installation, click on the "Edit Options" tab at the right hand side of the yellow bar, then click "Allow" to authorize the site and then click "Close". Once that is completed, try installing the extension again. This time it should work fine.
Another little problem you may encounter is that some extension sites don't offer an "install" option but instead offer a download link. In these cases download the file to your PC. Then, from within Firefox, select File/Open file and load the installation file you downloaded. This will install the file. Note that Firefox extension installation files have a file type of .xpi.
5. Install Themes (optional step)
In addition to downloadable extensions, Firefox offers many free downloadable themes. To get access to new themes select Tools/Themes from within Firefox and then click on "get more themes."
Now I'm not a themes kind of person so I don't want to comment too much. However with an earlier version of Firefox I did try a few themes to see if they reduced the width of the Google search bar which in that version of Firefox seems too wide for my eyes when using the default theme.
To be honest I found that on balance, I preferred the very clean looking default theme to any of the popular themes I tried. But themes are very much a personal thing so don't rely on my judgment.
6. Install Plug-ins
You probably had a number of plug-ins such as the Adobe Reader installed in Internet Explorer. Most of these are available for Firefox. Here's a list of links to some of the most popular:
To install a plug-in you want click the link and follow the vendor's instructions.
For more plug-ins see http://plugindoc.mozdev.org/windows.html
7. Configure Firefox to Work the Way You Like
The Firefox toolbars settings are user configurable. To do this use the View/Toolbars/Customize option to drop and drag icons to and from the toolbars.
I added a new tab icon, a history icon and a print icon to the Navigation toolbar and at the same time removed a couple I didn't need such as the default search bar as I use the GoogleBar instead. Here's how my version of Firefox looks.
Firefox uses pretty much the same keyboard shortcuts as Internet Explorer so you won't have to re-learn those you already know. You can see the full list here: http://texturizer.net/Firefox/keyboard.html
For the most part Firefox works pretty much like Internet Explorer however if you want to make it even more like IE then you should check out this web site.
8. Configure Tabbed Browsing
Once you start using tabbed browsing you'll wonder how you ever did without it. However the are many ways to set up tabbed browsing and you'll need to experiment to find what works best for you.
That's why I recommend everyone should install the Tab Mix Plus extension. It offers you far greater control on the way tabs work than the standard options from within Firefox itself.
Personally I set up Firefox clicked links open in new tabs, not new windows. I also like to have links clicked from within other programs (such as my email client) open in new tabs without gaining focus. Finally I set up Tab Mix Options so that double clicking a tab closes that tab while double clicking the tab bar closes all tabs on the bar. Below you'll find screen shots that show my Tab Mix settings: But as I said, this is a personal thing so experiment
If you set up Tab Mix the same way I have, you'll get a little side benefit. When reading newsletters I can click on several links and continue reading without Firefox taking the foreground on my screen. I can then click on Firefox and all my clicks will be lined up in individual tabs waiting for me to read. Note: To make this happen ensure you have first minimized Firefox with the "Minimize to Tray" extension.
If you use RoboForm to manage your passwords in Internet Explorer you'll be glad to here you can use it for Firefox as well but you'll have to install the RoboForm Mozilla adaptor first. You can get the adaptor from here: http://www.roboform.net/dist/AiRoboForm-Netscape-Adapter.exe
Install the adaptor after you have installed Firefox but don't leave Firefox running when you do the installation - close all Firefox windows first.
Any passwords you stored in Internet Explorer using RoboForm will now be available to you from within Firefox.
10. Enjoy! (not optional)
I've only encountered a couple of minor problems. Listed below are some fixes but I should warn they are only relevant to experienced users. Beginners and average users should stop reading here.
Problem 1: I encountered this when I set Firefox to be my default browser. After that every time clicked a link from within Outlook I found that two identical browser windows opened rather than one.
It turns out this is a known bug and in fact is not restricted to Outlook - any application that opens a browser window may have the same problem.
Again I have been told that the problem has now been resolved. I can't say, but if you encounter it, here's the solution I found in one of the Firefox forums.
1. Open Windows Explorer
2. Select Tools and then Folder Options
3. Select the File Types tab
4. Select Extension: (NONE), File Type: HyperText Transfer Protocol
5. Click Advanced toward the bottom of the window
6. In the Edit File Type window, select open and click Edit
7. Clear the DDE message box (which should contain "%1")
8. Click OK, Click OK
9. Repeat for File Type: HyperText Transfer Protocol with Privacy
Problem 2: A couple of times I've experienced problems with Firefox not starting after I've installed a new version. The most reliable method of solving this is to uninstall Firefox, delete your Firefox profile folder and re-install. You'll lose also your customized setting and extensions but them's the breaks.
The Profile folder is stored in different locations in different Version of Windows.To find the location for your Windows version, click the link below.
Problem 3: I've encountered this one each time a new version of Firefox has been released. What happens is that some of my installed extensions won't work with the new version.
Of course waiting for an update to the extension is the easiest option but sometimes that can be slow coming particularly if the developer gets caught up in some other project. However there are a couple of workarounds you might like to try.
The fact that an extension doesn't run under a new version of Firefox doesn't mean it won't work rather it means it has yet to be certified to work. That's a big difference. Many in fact will work. All you have to do is fool Firefox in to thinking they are kosher.
You can do this by using the free "Nightly Tester Tools" extension which allows you to re-install your old extensions by bypassing compatibility testing. It adds a check box to the Firefox install dialog box. When checked, the extension will be installed regardless.
Mostly you will find that your extensions now work fine. If not just disenable them.
That's it for now. Enjoy!