A smoother intranet experience with Firefox

I really like the Firefox browser.  There are a couple of times when its use is clunkier than Internet Explorer on a Windows-oriented intranet, though:

  1. Intranet sites that require your domain login (Firefox pops a login dialog, while IE passes your domain credentials along automatically)
  2. file:// links – in Firefox file:// links are disabled (for security reasons)

Both of these can be fixed.

For the first issue, open Firefox and go to about:config .  go to network.automatic-ntlm-auth.trusted-uris and add the URIs that you want your credentials to automatically be passed to without popping the dialog.

For the second issue, install the LocalLink Firefox add-on.  With this add-on installed, a new Open Link in Local Context context menu item is available when you context-click a file:// type link.  Choosing this allows you to follow the link.  (For details on why Firefox is designed this way and other alternatives, see the Links to local pages do not work Mozillazine article.)

Thanks to Craig and Patrick for documenting this on the company intranet!

Disabling Firefox’s download completion alert

Every time I follow a link to a PDF in Firefox, before the document comes up (I have PDFs set to open an external Adobe Reader window rather than show up within the browser) a notification slowly slides out from the task bar and then slowly disappears back into the task bar.  This causes about a three-second delay each time.  I wished to disable the download completion alert.

You can!  Here’s how:

Go to about:config (type that in the address bar) and change browser.download.manager.showAlertOnComplete to false.

Thanks to cor-el for answering the question and to Ed for asking it, on the Firefox support forum.

Reminder boxes and undoability

As long as I had been using RSS feeds, I had been doing the default where after you click the little orange sound wave looking icon up in the address bar you get a preview of the feed and you click Subscribe Now (at that point, you get a dialog asking where in your bookmarks you want to put the bookmark for the feed).  For over a year I had seen the “Always use Live Bookmarks to subscribe to feeds” check box; but even though I always use Live bookmarks to subscribe to feeds, I didn’t check the box, because I wasn’t sure how to undo the action.

One day, though, I decided to check the box.  This made it so I no longer see the preview screen but go straight to the little where-do-you-want-to-store-this-bookmark dialog.  I didn’t like that, but I couldn’t figure out how to change it back (I looked through all the tabs in Tools -> Options, but didn’t see anything that looked related, even in Advanced), so I’ve been without the feed preview for a matter of months now.

It occurs to me as I write that everyone else would have just Googled it right away.  I am slow to do that sometimes — it seems like a kind of user interface failure if I can’t find the answer simply by looking around in likely places in the application.   I wonder how many people leave info dialogs  popping up for years despite the little checkbox they could have unchecke d that says “show this alert next time”?  I think I read something a while back that suggested the answer was somewhere around “a lot”.  They don’t know how they would ever get the alert back, and they’d rather click OK several times a day then have it disappear forever.  Seems like there’s room for improvement here in our UI designs, huh?

I didn’t find the answer to these larger questions, but I did find the answer to the smaller one.  A helpful post to the Firefox support forum pointed me to Tools -> Options -> Applications -> Web Feed to set the option back to the default of Preview in Firefox.

Ah, back to normal!

Selective blinkfulness

Normally, I leave Firefox set to only show GIF animations once (image.animation_mode = once in about:config) — it’s just too hard to concentrate with all that motion going on all over the page.  But there is one time when the perpetual animation would serve a useful purpose for me: when I’m monitoring a build on the Hudson CI server, the currently executing job is highlighted with a blinking ball:

My once setting foils the blinkiness of the ball.  It’s too much effort to go to about:config and change the setting just to monitor the build — I was wishing for a toolbar button that would toggle the setting for me.

And I recently found one: Michael Buckley’s Toolbar Buttons add-on for Firefox has a “Toggle Animation” button:

This toggles the image.animation_mode between normal and none… which is close enough to what I want to be useful.

Thanks, Michael!