Fun Firefox features

The web is a great thing except when a web page is so cluttered that it’s hard to get your brain to separate the content from the flashing distractions. Firefox has a built-in feature that makes reading a lot easier on the eyes.

Use Reader View for a clean reading experience

When you’re looking at a web page, glance up at Firefox’s address bar. If that page is available in Reader View, you’ll see an icon that looks like an open book. Clicking on that icon opens Reader View.

You’ll find yourself looking at a nice clean page with nice large text. This is a welcome relief from distractions for many of us, but it makes all the difference in the world for people with vision impairments.

You can change the size of the text by using the control at the left side of the page. (It looks like Aa.)

But wait, there’s more

While you’re looking over there on the left, notice the icon with the vertical lines. Clicking on that will cause Firefox to open a control so you can have Firefox read the page to you.

Yes. Now you can have Firefox read to you while you look at another tab in Firefox, or while you’re working in another application --- as I am doing right now! 

Want to hear a Castanet article read while you’re doing the Guardian’s Sudoku? No problem.

Want to put away your laundry while you listen to that long article you bookmarked last week and have been meaning to get to? Check out this screencast for a demonstration.

You can mute Firefox tabs

Sometimes you have several tabs open, you’re working away, and suddenly a video starts playing in the background somewhere.

Where the heck is that coming from?

Firefox displays a speaker icon in any tab where sound is currently playing. Clicking once on the speaker icon will mute the tab without affecting any of your other tabs. Clicking again will restore the sound.

You don’t have to scroll through all your tabs looking for the one that’s yelling at you. Just look for the speaker icon to mute it. Or of course you can just close it!

What about…

Chrome? Internet Explorer? Edge? Safari?

Yes, other browsers have some of these features. Reader exists in Edge, Internet Explorer, and Safari. Chrome is experimenting with a Reader mode.

You can mute a tab in Chrome and Safari. You can turn off the sound completely in Internet Explorer from Advanced settings. Microsoft Edge has a speaker icon, but it doesn’t seem to control anything, at least it doesn’t on the computers I experimented with.

One more thing about Firefox

Do you need to insert Emoji into your Facebook posts or some other type of text area on the web? Well, that can be tedious.

That’s why someone has come up with a Firefox extension that lets you do this from the right-click menu. Use Firefox to go to this page, install the extension and you’re good to go.

Place your mouse cursor in any text box or editable field on a web page, right click, and choose which Emoji you want to use.

While you’re doing this you’ll only see the description of the Emoji, but stay with it. Once you’re done the Emoji themselves will be in the text box.

Have fun!


Comments are pre-moderated to ensure they meet our guidelines. Approval times will vary. Keep it civil, and stay on topic. If you see an inappropriate comment, please use the ‘flag’ feature. Comments are the opinions of the comment writer, not of Castanet. Comments remain open for one day after a story is published and are closed on weekends. Visit Castanet’s Forums to start or join a discussion about this story.

More Getting Along With Your Computer articles

About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

Computer Care Kelowna

Column Archives

Get Cate's column by email

RSS Feed

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories