Note: This article was published in 2011. Since then, Mozilla Firefox has gone through several updates rendering this article outdated.
Quick Speed Tweaks
There are a few quick tweaks that can really increase the speed at which Firefox runs. First of all, you will want to open your Firefox browser. Go up to the address bar and type in "about:config," minus the quotation marks, of course. Once those words are typed, hit enter. Next you want to type "network.http" in the filter bar. When the settings pop up, double-click to change the "network.http.pipelining" setting to true. This should increase your browsing speeds, but may not work if you are running on a proxy server. If you are indeed using a proxy server, you should set "network.http.proxy.pipelining" to true as well by double-clicking on it. After that, change "network.http.pipelining.maxrequests" to 8. Changing this number to 8 will allow Firefox to load more than one item at once when you go to any given webpage.
For the next speed tweak, you will want to stay in the "about:config" menu, just like in the prior tweaks. Right-click anywhere in the window, select "new," then "integer" from the drop-down menu. Call the preference name "nglayout.initialpaint.delay," then change the value to the number 0. Adjusting this setting will lower the amount of time Firefox waits before displaying a webpage’s content. There are also many other settings that can be tweaked in the "about:config" menu. Some are very advanced and should only be altered by users who are very familiar with Firefox's settings.
If you have many add-ons installed, Firefox can take a lot of time to start. To make Firefox start quickly, remove the add-ons you are not using.
Other Firefox Shortcuts
Some handy shortcuts can make your Firefox browsing experience a bit speedier. On your keyboard, hitting the spacebar while browsing will allow you to scroll down. Holding down the shift key plus the spacebar will do just the opposite and scroll your page up. Since Firefox is well known for its tabbed browsing, it would only make sense that there would be a shortcut for opening a new tab. To do this, just hold the Control key and the letter "T." Hitting the "F5" key will reload any webpage for you. Holding Control plus Tab will take you to the next tab. Lastly, holding down the Alt key plus the Home key (above the numbers on your keyboard) will take you directly to your home page.
There are a few other shortcuts that exist for Firefox as well. If you use bookmarks, giving them keywords will allow you to access them much quicker. All you have to do is go to your selected bookmark and right-click on it. Choose "properties," enter an easy-to-remember keyword in the keyword field, then save it. When you type that keyword in your normal address bar, your bookmark will appear.
Also, when you wish to access a specific site on your computer, do not worry about typing the complete URL in the Firefox address bar. If you simply enter in the name of the website, such as "Google," then press Control plus Enter, the rest of the address (www and .com) will be filled in for you if the website has a .com domain. If the website has a .net domain, press Shift plus Enter. For .org websites, press Control plus Shift plus Enter. Although these shortcuts can take some time to get used to, they can really save you time and make it easier to surf the web.
If you are having issues with your Firefox speed, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with these tweaks and shortcuts. Once you see how easy it can be to increase your Firefox speed, you will be glad you took the time to check them out.