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Switching from Internet Explorer to Firefox
Posted by Clarke M on 28 March 2006 05:03 PM
Internet Explorer has proven itself to have more holes than swiss cheese, and is such a virus/spyware magnet that even the U.S. government is begging people to stop using it. We at WTC Communications tend to agree. Many of our staff here have made the switch.

Mozilla's Firefox is smaller, faster, and much more secure browser than Internet Explorer.

Luckily, making the switch is an easy task.

Mozilla has some very straightforward instructions for how to change your browser. This is directly from their site:

1. To download Mozilla Firefox, go to http://getfirefox.com and select "Download Now!"

2. When asked to 'Open the file' or 'Save it to your computer', select 'Open' to begin installation. If you save it to your computer, save the file to your desktop and double-click the file to start the install.

3. Users can also purchase the Mozilla CD from the Mozilla Store http://store.mozilla.org which includes Mozilla Firefox.

Firefox imports your existing settings from Internet Explorer. An import wizard will run when you first install Firefox (and is also available later through the File menu, File > Import), and it imports your Favorites, Internet Options, cookies, stored passwords, and a variety of other data. This saves you time customizing Firefox to fit your needs.

(Note: I found that the importing of passwords does not always work, so you may have to re-enter saved passwords for certain sites)

Many of the plug-ins, add-ons, and toolbars that you may have installed for Internet Explorer are also available for Mozilla Firefox, including:

* Macromedia Flash Player, Apple QuickTime, Real Networks RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Sun Microsystems Java Plug-in

Some of these plug-ins are not installed by default, but when you encounter a page that requires the plug-in, you will have an option to install it.

The Google Toolbar (which we at WTC Communications are just giddy about, as it not only adds a search bar to your browser, but also BLOCKS POP-UPS) is built right into Firefox.

Firefox uses different terms for certain things than Internet Explorer. Here is a quick glossary (IE on the left, Firefox on the right):

Internet Options = Options
Temporary Internet Files = Cache
Favorites = Bookmarks
Address Bar = Location Bar
Refresh = Reload
Links Bar = Bookmarks Toolbar
Explorer Bar = Sidebar
Copy Shortcut = Copy Link Location

Also straight from Mozilla's page is a list of features that Firefox has:

* Tabbed Browsing: Instead of opening a separate browser window for each site you want to visit, you can open multiple sites within the same window when using tabs. You can also set a group of tabs as your home page.

* Pop-up Blocker: Lets you allow or suppress both popup and popunder windows.

* Cookie Manager: Lets you change what Firefox will do when accepting cookies.

* Download Manager: Organizes your downloads by storing them in a single window to minimize clutter. You have full access to download statistics without using unnecessary multiple windows for each download.


The first time you run Firefox, you will get a pop-up asking if you would like to make it the default browser. Tell it "YES". Because Internet Explorer is now integrated with Windows, it is not a good idea to try to uninstall it. Instead, replace your IE shortcuts with shortcuts to Firefox.

Once you familiarize yourself with Firefox, you can add more features to it by installing "extensions". These extensions are usually very tiny in size, and all that needs to be done is to click on the "install" link and close/reopen the browser.

The extension that I personally cannot live without is "adblock" - which you can train to block ads on web pages (not to be confused with pop-ups). For instance, when I go to the Whig Standard home page, there are no ads at all - and the page is reformatted a little so there are not even any gaping holes where they used to be.

The tabbed browsing is something else I love to use, as you only need one copy of the browser open even though you may have many pages being displayed.

Our Support department would love to hear from customers who would like to make the switch. We will gladly give you advice and help while doing so, and help you beome accustomed to the differences after you have it installed. Firefox is a fantastic browser, and is highly customizable to meet your needs without including a bloated load of features that you will never use. By using extensions, you will only be adding the features that you want.

And to add to the magic - the download is only about 4 megabytes, so it's dial-up friendly.

So switch now! You will thank yourself, and you'll have one happy computer.

- Clarke
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