The Power of the Browser – Make it Yours (Part 2 of 3)

You don’t have to be a web designer or developer….or any kind of webby to enjoy a better browsing experience. Excuse me while I cringe at using the phrase “a better browsing experience”. That makes it sound incredibly wanky. All I really mean is that most of us use a web browser every single day, normally for a good few hours. That’s hundreds, possibly thousands, of accumulated hours every year. If you use anything that much, you might as well get the best experience out of it as possible. So let’s look at ways to do that.

Themes

From experience, this is the thing most people are interested in to begin with.

How to Install a Theme in Firefox

There are two places you can choose themes from. The first is the Firefox Add-Ons site and the second is the Firefox Personas site.

To Install a Theme From the Firefox Add-Ons Site

  • First off, visit the Firefox Add-Ons site
  • Click on the image of your desired theme
  • When the page loads, click the button that says ‘Add to Firefox’
  • When prompted, accept the software installation
  • A Firefox dialogue box will open up after it has finished downloading. Click the button that says restart.
  • Your browser will open up, sporting the new theme that you just installed. Easy :)

Installing a Firefox Theme Option 1

If you want to switch back to another theme you have installed, go to Tools > Add-Ons and click the Themes tab. Select ‘Use Theme’ for the theme you want and hit restart again.

To Install a Theme From the Firefox Personas Site

  • First off, visit the Personas site
  • The cool thing about this site is that once you install their plugin, you can hover over any of the themes and it will automatically change your browser’s theme on the fly, so you can see what it would look like without needing to restart
  • So click the button that says ‘Get Personas For Firefox’ and when prompted accept the installation
  • Click the button that says Restart Firefox
  • Your browser will open up with the theme you selected and you can also hover over any other theme in the gallery to see what it would look like and click ‘Wear It’ to install it.

Installing a Firefox Theme Option 2 (preferred)

Optionally Customise the Layout of Your Buttons and Toolbars

So now your browser looks just the way you want, save for a few buttons that you’d like to have in different positions. You can alter this to some degree too. To do so, right click on the toolbar and select ‘Customise’. A dialogue box will open up and you’ll be able to drag your buttons around your tooolbar until everything is where you want it to be.

Customise the layout of your buttons and toolbars

How to Install a Theme in Google Chrome

  • First off, visit the Chrome Themes Gallery
  • Choose the theme you’d like and hit Apply Theme
  • The theme will be applied instantly without a need to restart

Installing Chrome Themes

If you want to revert to the default theme, go to your ‘Settings’ icon, then ‘Options’ and then the tab named Personal Stuff.

Add-ons

Add-ons can improve your browser in just about any way imaginable. I use Firefox as my main browser because it has by far the widest range of addons and plugins available and is a very secure browser. But Chrome has a decent set of extensions and more are appearing all the time, while extensions are even being developed for IE8 now.

How to Install an Add-on in Firefox

  • First, go to the Firefox Add-Ons site and pick on of the hundreds of helpful plugins available
  • Click on ‘Add to Firefox’
  • When prompted, accept the software installation
  • Click Restart browser and your addon will have been installed

Installing Firefox Add-ons

To see a list of all installed add-ons at any time, go to Tools > Add-Ons and click the ‘Extensions’ tab. While add-ons are very helpful, try not to get carried away installing everything under the sun as they will eventually slow down your browser!

How to Install an Add-on in Chrome

  • First, visit the Chrome Extensions site
  • Choose your extension and select ‘Install’
  • A dialogue box will appear telling you what info it needs access to. If you trust it, select ‘Install’
  • The addon will be pinned to your toolbar

Installing Chrome Extensions

To manage your addons, go to your Settings icon and select ‘Extensions’.

How to Install an Add-on in Internet Explorer 8

  • First, go to the Internet Explorer Addons site and pick and choose one of the addons
  • Click on ‘Add to Internet Explorer’
  • When prompted, click on ‘Add’
  • The addon should now be installed, though, rather unhelpfully, IE won’t give you a success message

Installing IE Extensions

You can view all of your IE8 Add-Ons by going to Tools > Manage Add-Ons

So, you can see how quick and easy it is to install an extension or add-on to whatever modern browser you’re using to add a bit more power or customisation and makes things a little more personal.

In the next post I’ll be writing a brief breakdown of the plugins I use and why they help me during every day tasks.

Check out the other posts from this series:
The Power of the Browser – Choose Your Weapon (Part 1 of 3)
The Power of the Browser – My Browser Breakdown (Part 3 of 3)


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