Strengthen Your Privacy in Firefox 3

Firefox safeguards your private information over the internet, however, there is at least one new feature in Firefox 3 that may leave you vulnerable. You can browse privately just by making a minor change in your configuration, and there are add-ons available as well to make Firefox more versatile. Clear the Location Bar and other evidence Scott Dunn explained several ways of changing the way Firefox 3 works in his June 19, 2008 article. I put the new browser to the test and found a number of ways to greatly improve its privacy features. The Location Bar in Firefox 3 will allow you to view a list of sites recently visited, through the use of a drop-down box. You can use this to speedily get back to a URL that you've visited in the past without needing to re-type the whole address. Naturally, you may want to prevent other people using your computer from seeing the URLs you've visited. Deleting an individual entry is an extremely easy process. All you need to do is find it in the drop-down list, highlight it, and press Delete. By reconfiguring the browser settings, you can also deactivate the history window. In the Address Bar, type about:config and hit Enter. In order to narrow the list of entries that will come up on your display, type urlbar in the Filter area, then press Enter.

Double-click browser.urlbar.maxRichResults. Change the value so that it becomes 0, then re-open the Internet browser. If you don't like the style of Firefox 3 but are partial to the Location Bar history feature, it's possible to reinstate the look of Firefox 2 by installing the oldbar add-on. If further privacy is desired, use the Firefox add-on called Distrust, which I first mentioned in the June 28, 2007 column. Your activity can be tracked from this point on by clicking the, "Distrust," button at the bottom of the browser. In order to remove cached files, history of downloaded files, cookies, browsing records, and other traces of your Internet activity without damaging other Firefox data, click the icon once more. Enable URL autocomplete in Firefox 3 When you begin to type a URL in Internet Explorer 7's address bar, Explorer will try and automatically complete the URL by matching it to the closest URL you have visited before. To obtain the same result in Firefox 3, be sure to enable URL autocomplete. Activating this feature in Firefox 3 is easy. Simply input the phrase about:config in the Location Bar, then hit the Enter key. Typing urlbar and then hitting Enter narrows the list of entries in the Filter area. Double-clicking where it says browser.urlbar.autoFill will change its value to true. You probably won't want to enable the drop-down history feature if you disabled it, as this could expose your browsing habits to other users who have access to your PC.

The easy way to remember Google search operators In order to receive more refined results in your searches, you can use special operators in your queries both through Yahoo and Google. On July 19, 2007, I provided details on how to utilize these operators for more effective searching. Remembering these operators isn't exactly a simple task considering how many operators there are. However, Advanced Dork, which is a very slick Firefox add-on, assists you in recalling various Google search operators. Once Advanced Dork has been installed, highlight on a Web page, right-click it, and from the pop-up menu, choose Advanced Dork. This will cause a list of advanced operators to be displayed. Pick one and it will launch a Google search. Then you may update your search query, if needed. This particular add-on will enable you to perform searches through the Scroogle anonymizer, rather than utilizing Google as you normally would. What Scroogle actually does is allow you to use Google anonymously by acting as a proxy go-between. Scroogle prevents any personal information from being transmitted to Google when you run a search.

It acts as a screen through which the query passes and the results return. Currently, there are 18 various advanced operators that are supported by Advanced Dork. Others are available, but you must manually add them to your search queries.

There is a full list of search operators available on Google's Advanced Operators page. Firefox + Gmail = online file storage Google's free e-mail service, Gmail, allows you to retrieve your messages and data from any location where there is a connection to the Internet. One of the great features of Gmail is you are given more than 6.6GB of online storage space with your inbox. That is quite a bit of space! The Gspace add-on for Firefox 3 allows you to use your Gmail account for more than just email and converts it into an online file storage system. You will be able to access your documents, data files, multimedia, etc., from any computer. Once installed, select Gspace by choosing Tools and then Gspace.

A window that resembles a standard FTP client will appear. Fill in your Gmail account details by clicking on Manage Accounts. You can now upload and download files. The Gspace window will consist of two panes: to the left will be the pane displaying your local hard drive and to the right will be the pane displaying items stored in your Gmail. Select the file you want to upload in the left pane and then click the right-pointing arrow between the two panes. In order to download a file, simply click the left-pointing arrow on it once you have selected it in the Gmail storage pane on the right. It is that easy. Take a look at the demo on the Gspace website, where you can also download the latest releases for Windows, Linux or OS X.

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