With all this momentum, it's fascinating to find that many powerful capabilities of Firefox 1.0 are still difficult to find and little known. For example, typing the following strings into Firefox's Address Bar (which the new browser calls the Location Bar) and pressing Enter brings up a wide variety of novel applets:
: shows info on Firefox's version number, copyright, etc.;
:config reveals the Configuration Console, a repository brimming over with scores of customizable settings;
:cache displays a summary of both your memory and file cache, with a link to full file listings;
:buildconfig lists the compiler options that were used to create your version of Firefox (and, since it's open source, anyone can compile a customized version);
: plugins enumerates your installed add-ons, which can be quite numerous since Firefox is designed to be modular and extensible; and
:credits is an "Easter egg" that includes the names of hundreds of developers and testers who worked on the product.
Today's article focuses on about
:config, the beating heart of Firefox, which controls almost every aspect of tuning and tweaking the browser.
:config is and isn't good for
:config into the Address Bar reveals an enormous list of settings and options (see image, below). This includes everything from the "browser" section, which controls user-interface preferences, to the "network" section, which establishes parameters for connecting to the Internet and other resources.
The organization of about
:config — let's face it — is a mess. There are settings in here that are left over from the old Mozilla browser suite, which do nothing in Firefox but haven't been removed. Other settings are easily changed through Firefox's visible menus, so there's no good reason to tweak them in the unforgiving about
That leaves a number of settings that can really make a big difference in your enjoyment of Firefox as a browser. With a few simple precautions, explained below, you can try different configurations with little risk.