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Firefox Tip: Enable instant "find as you type" in your browser window

What?

Firefox logo 

Instantly find and jump to any link or text in a web page just by typing into your Firefox browser window.  No keyboard shortcut required.

 

As part of the Accessibility functionality, the Mozilla developers made it possible to "find as you type" without using a keyboard shortcut.  You can set this up by enabling "Begin finding when you begin typing" in Firefox, which takes less than 10 seconds. 

Why?

This makes finding anything on a web page almost effortless, and eliminates the need to do something (e.g. use a keyboard shortcut) to tell the browser you want to start searching.

Why go through extra steps when you want to find something on a web page?  Once you try this, you'll see it's really fast & convenient to be able to just start typing when you think of something you want to find on a web page.

Great for finding a tag in a tag cloud

This is a generally useful trick, but it's also a perfect solution for finding tags in a busy tag cloud, since you often know the name of the tag you want, but have to find it among many others.

I'm discussing this in the context of  del.icio.us tag clouds since mine is pretty large, and that's what inspired me to start using this technique.  One of the strengths of del.icio.us is that it facilitates using a lot of tags.  Unfortunately, if you do so, it soon becomes a challenge to visually locate and click on the one you want.  "Find as you type" solves this problem.

SCREENSHOT: Firefox find as you type in tagcloud

Screencast demo: See it in action

The best way to see the benefit of this is to try it, but you can get a sense of it by watching the screencast I made to demonstrate how this works:

SCREENSHOT: Firefox find as you type tagcloud demo 

(This is my first screencast, and it was very easy to create using Wink, so I want to thank the developers for this great free software!)

How?

Enable "Begin finding when you begin typing" in 2 easy steps:

  1. Go to the menu and navigate to: Tools - Options - Advanced - General
  2. Select "Begin finding when you begin typing"
    • SCREENSHOT: Firefox Begin finding when you begin typing

 

To use it:

  1. Go to any web page and start typing a word you see on the page.
  2. When the link you want is selected, press "Enter" to open it.

Tips & Tricks

  • Try this on any web page that has text and links.
  • Try this with your tag cloud on your del.icio.us start page.
    • If you don't use del.icio.us, or don't have enough tags to warrant searching, try it with the main del.icio.us tag cloud that I used in the screencast.
  • If your cursor ends up on a word in the link title or notes that you don't want, just press "F3" to find the next instance.
  • I haven't seen an obvious way to do the equivalent of this in Internet Explorer; if you know how, please comment.

Reference

  • Mozilla Documentation / Keyboard Feature: Find as You Type
    • A bit out-dated, and this feature is now implemented via dialog boxes, but the documentation provides some tweaks some may find useful.

Comments

Thanks for this. Very cool.

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