Keyboard navigation in Firefox

Pianokeys2

I’ve uploaded the new incarnation of PeteSearch, GoogleHotKeys, to the Firefox add-ons site, and the new name does seem to have caught people’s interest. Downloads are up, and I’ve been getting more comments from users.

One question was how it’s different from another add-on, SearchKeys. I thought I’d review that and a few of my other favorite keyboard tips here.

SearchKeys is the closest to GoogleHotKeys. After loading some search results, you can press the number keys to go to individual results, and ‘,/.’ to move to the next or previous pages of results. It’s simple and robust to use, but I have trouble remembering which search result is associated with which number key. That’s why I use a visible selection box, and up/down for GHK, for me it’s a lot more intuitive.

GHK also does a lot more than SearchKeys, with split-screen previews, page-checking, term-highlighting and support for some other engines.

Hit-A-Hint is a more general way of navigating through any web page using just the keyboard. Every link on a page is given a number, which you can see by pressing space:

Magicshot

If you press a number key with space held down, you’ll open that link. It’s a pretty quick to learn and easy to use. It’s the closest I’ve found to Lynx’s navigation in a graphical browser. I don’t use it all that much though, since I find the slowest is visually finding the right link, and moving the mouse there doesn’t take much time.

There’s also Firefox’s built-in type-ahead find. If you press the ‘ key, and then type some text, the first link that starts with those letters will be selected, and then return will open it. Again, this is a neat idea, but I don’t make much use of it.

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