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I've hopped browsers a lot in the last few months and I've finally settled on exclusively using Firefox (or derivatives) on all my devices. The monoculture of browsers in 2021 is bad. With nearly all browsers being Blink-based, Firefox is more important now than ever. Especially when you consider the absolute dominance of Chrome and the effect Google could have across the open internet (FLoC, anyone?).
In a series of posts I'm going to share how I have my instances of Firefox configured and how it is better browser for getting real work done.
This really is about containers.
Since containers were added to Firefox back in 2016 I have been hooked on them. The ability to be manage multiple accounts, plus having "always open in container" options, and the ability to lock Facebook to a container, has been a game changer for me.
Normally I am not an excessive tab manager. This is usually because I use bookmarks, as well as bundling projects so I can delete tabs quickly. As an inbox zero over-achiever and an avid todo keeper, the idea of having dozens of tabs open so I don't forget about them is insanity.
Rather than having a ridiculous amount of tabs, I have a key set of tabs I frequent daily. Being in marketing, this is several social media platforms and management suites, plus functional services like todo's, notes, and project tracking.
There are days I could have dozens of tabs open while working on a project. Therefore having some basic tab management is important, including a way to bundle specific tabs together for easy switching.
Tree Style Tab
This shows a tree of tabs in the left sidebar with an amazing amount of customization. This addon will show the list of tabs, with pinned tabs at the top, and child tabs nested below the parent. I also use the additional addons for Tree Style Tab. One, TST Bookmarks Subpanel to display my bookmarks in the bottom left below the tabs and TST Colored Tabs to make it easy to identify tabs at a glance.
Simple Tab Groups
My absolute favorite addon. As mentioned above, I have bundles of tabs I use every day. When I'm managing social media accounts, I use Sprout Social and Buffer, plus tabs open for my clients core platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
When I'm working on social content, I like to have all of these tabs open. But, I don't spend all day in them. Other times I need to work on a blog, create emails in Hubspot, or documents in Google Drive or OneDrive. This means I want all social media tabs to go away. Out of site, out of mind.
Using Simple Tab Groups I have bundles of tabs, like workspaces, for when I'm working on certain tasks. It has keyboard shortcuts, so switching between bundles is easy. Plus, it works with Firefox containers! Now I have bundles for when I'm at work, managing my personal social media, or producing my podcast, all of which have their own dedicated containers.
No surprise that I have a highly organized bookmark strategy with distinct folders depending on my next action for the link. This is my folder structure:
- Web services
- Linux server
- Linux desktop
- Diversity and accessibility
Yes, I'm a nerd.
You could probably make the case that Twitter doesn't need it's own folder because there is this functionality in the app. Or, I could move the folders into the other parent folders like Twitter -> Tech to just the Tech folder.
Nothing is perfect.
There is two paths a bookmark could be assigned. One, I want to use later but it is okay if it disappeared. Two, I want to make sure I keep it forever. Option one, they go into one of the folders (except Archive). For option two I add them to the Archive folder.
This is my bookmark manager of choice at the moment. It is critical that I am able to switch between any computer, phone, or tablet, and have access to everything. This is why I have notes, calendars, and tasks all in Nextlcoud, plus screenshots on every device all sent to the same shared folder. It was obvious that is the way I needed to manage bookmarks.
I know that Firefox Sync will move my bookmarks across devices, but only to other Firefox browsers. There are some cases I have to use a Blink-based browser and I want to be able to access my bookmarks. Using Floccus, I have my bookmarks save to Nextcloud (requires the Nextcloud Bookmarks extension to be installed in your instance as well). This way I use the default bookmark manager in Firefox and Firefox Sync to send them to all my devices, with additional access to them in Nextcloud, too.
I adore this extension. It is a very close runner-up to Simple Tab Groups as my favorite extension. When I bookmark a site, it goes into my organizational structure and for items I want to keep forever, they go into the Archive.
After I add to the proper folder in my bookmarks, I also use the SingleFile extension to completely download the page (full HTML and CSS, sometimes the scripts as well) and save to an archive folder in Nextcloud. This assures that I have the page as long as I can keep my storage safe.
I know it sounds obsessive and I know that the Internet Archive exists. However, I want to keep my own little archive. Plus, SingleFile has the ability to highlight and notate directly onto the page.
There is a whole host of reasons why I would download a full offline page.
- It is a support article that took me ages to find.
- A recipe, which food sites are notorious for breaking URL's.
- Websites I manage and want to keep historical records.
- Websites I manage and I want to keep versions for my portfolio.
- Sites I get access to for a brief period of time.
That last one is fun. Sometimes, as a marketer doing market research, I get access behind a login or paywall and I want to be able to reference the page in the future. I could take a screenshot, but having the full functional page is so much more handy.
This is part one of the series, focusing on how I interact with tabs, bookmarks, and containers. Ping me on Twitter with your setup! I still have security, plus content and content management to cover in the next few parts of this series. Let me know how you manage tabs and bookmarks, or if you have any tips for containers.
- Simple Tab Groups
- Firefox Multi-Account Containers
- Facebook Container
- Temporary Containers
- Tree Style Tab
- TST Bookmarks Subpanel
- TST Colored Tabs
Would love to hear from you on this topic!
These blogs are just the tip of the iceberg. To go deeper and hear more stories around the tech and life around these journals, check out the DC Tech Talks Podcast.
Need even more?
Check out my sister podcast Go With The Heat. We just relaunched the show after going through all of the 80's goodness that was Miami Vice. The updated show is now going deeper into the greatest era of action movies, 1975 - 1995.
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