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Is it possible to do efficient browsing with Firefox using only the keyboard (like in Opera)?

By efficient I mean something faster than using TAB - this takes far too long. The arrow keys should be for navigation (in Opera it is Shift + arrow key). It can done with the Vimperator add-on or its successor Pentadactyl, but isn't there a simpler way?


The closest to Opera's way is to enable caret navigation (F7 toggles this mode). It doesn't jump between links so it is a little bit slower, but the normal navigation (arrow keys, page up, page down, etc.) works and the focus/caret/cursor follows (in contrast to a text editor for page up/down). And text can be selected and copied like in a text editor.

The biggest drawback is that in practice it is necessary to switch in and out of caret mode. And there is no indication of which mode is currently active.


A workaround (proposed by several, but is not really what I am looking for) can be used if three settings are changed (to make it practical). After these changes the first few letters of a link text can be typed and that link will selected so pressing Enter will open it.

Using the workaround, the screen will jump around if it is a long page as it does not restrict itself to the current visible page, but it is usable.

Changes (see below for other versions of Firefox):

  1. Hamburger menu (upper right) → PreferencesGeneral. Under headline Browser (scroll down) → Search for text when I start typing

    Turn this option on.

  2. Set option to only go to links; in the address bar enter

    about:config

    followed by Enter. Then: press I accept the risk!, find the line accessibility.typeaheadfind.linksonly, select it and change the value to True by either hitting Enter or Shift + F10/Toggle (accessibility.typeaheadfind.linksonly is on line 11 when I tried).

  3. Turn off case-sensitivity. Set accessibility.typeaheadfind.casesensitive to 0 (same procedure as for accessibility.typeaheadfind.linksonly, see above. When Enter is pressed a dialog box will appear with the current value. Type 0 and press Enter).

To use it: type some part of the link. If there are several possibilities use Ctrl + G (or F3) to jump between them. Use Ctrl + Enter to open in a new tab.

For older versions of Firefox

It is the same as the above, except:

Option Search for text when I start typing:

menu Tools/Options/Advanced/tab General/Accessibility/Search for text when I start typing

Opening the about:config page, the button is I'll be careful, I promise.

Platform: Firefox 3.0.6, Windows XP 64 bit SP2.

11 Answers 11

15

Firefox has two search keys: / searches any text; ' searches for just links. Both continue the search with F3.

  • I'd forgotten about ' for links only. Thanks! +1 – outsideblasts Oct 3 '09 at 23:16
  • I only knew about Ctrl+F – n611x007 Nov 4 '12 at 23:31
  • I know about / for searching but I always enable search when start typing. Anyway the ' is great – phuclv Nov 9 '17 at 4:41
  • Information: support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/… – andyandy Nov 12 '18 at 16:04
7

Two suggestions:

  1. Hitting the F7 key toggles whether the arrow keys scroll the page or move the cursor. It's handy for selecting text, but it can also be useful for moving the cursor over top of a link.

  2. Use the MouselessBrowing extension. I haven't used it in quite some time, but it used to work very, very well.

  • Yes, F7, to toggle caret navigation, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caret_navigation, is closest to the way Opera operates. It is still not same as real physical navigation (between links) like Opera, but it is close enough to be useful, especially when combined with the type-and-jump-to-link described elsewhere here. On the other hand when the caret navigation mode is enabled it is possible to select and copy text using only the keyboard. – Peter Mortensen Jan 10 '10 at 12:58
  • 1
    I second the MouselessBrowsing extension. mouseless.de – Andreas Oct 15 '10 at 9:56
  • 1
    As of now, it's addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/mouseless-plugin – 9000 Apr 25 at 15:21
4

Tick on "Search for text when I start typing" (Options → *Advanced * → General), and then you can type the text of links and hit Enter, which massively increases speed of navigation.

  • 1
    Wow, didn't know of this option. Really cool... – Nikhil Oct 3 '09 at 22:47
2

If I know the text of the link I want to go to, / (quick-find) works pretty well.

1

You could try gleeBox and see if it works for you.

1

I've tried all the different methods and addons for keyboard navigation in Firefox, and the two I like the most are:

  1. Press the ' key, type the first few letters of a link and then immediately hit enter.

  2. The Spatial Navigation script that can be found over at userscripts.org. Just like in Opera, you navigate between links with Shift and the arrow keys. It doesn't come close to the native spatial navigation in Opera, but it works about as well as the Crossfire addon for Chrome.

  • 1
    This seems to be a comment on previous answers. – Austin T French Oct 8 '13 at 2:58
1

I used Numberfox for a while. It attaches a number to each link on a page so you can use (as Phoshi said) Find As You Type to find the link number. It was a bit cumbersome for me, but it might be what you're looking for. Unfortunately, it is only for Firefox 2, but if you disable addon update checking, it might work!

1

Hit-a-hint is an addon that makes a user-defined key a special key which activates alphabetical hints for all the links on a page for easy following. LoL is a fork of HaH that works with Firefox 3.5 and is more actively maintained.

This functionality is quite the same that is implemented also in Vimperator's hint mode.

0

Unfortunately Hint-a-hint doesn't seem to support more recent browsers and the LoL link is broken and no extension named "LoL" seems to exist in the mozilla addons repository.

Vimium instead seems to be maintained and so far works here.

0

VimFx

Even before Vimium there was Vimperator for Firefox. In my opinion, Vimperator has too many features and aggressively changes the default Firefox appearance and behavior. Vimium is exactly what I need in terms of added functionality, but for Chrome. That’s why I decided to develop a similar extension for Firefox.

VimFx will be nice to your browser and to your habits. Promise.

– Anton Khodakivskiy, VimFx’s original author.

0

saka-key is very promising, building on the ideas from Vimium and cVim, and is supporting both Firefox Quantum and Google Chrome. See the clicking_and_link_hints documentation.

There are currently doubts about its maintenance, but I hope the author will find support to help finalize and maintain this great work.

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