Speed up downloads in Firefox with Multithreaded Download Manager

Multithreaded Download Manager is an extension for the Firefox web browser that may speed up file downloads in the browser thanks to the use of download threads.

Download manager extension require a scary number of permissions and Multithreaded Download Manager is no exception to that.  The developer explains the permissions on the project’s GitHub repository; the extension is open source which means that anyone may check the source code to analyze the functionality.

The main feature that the add-on adds to Firefox is that file downloads may be downloaded in threads to speed things up; this works only if the server supports this and if the Internet connection allows it. The extension uses four download threads by default but you may increase the number in the options. Firefox does not allow more than 6 threads by default but you may increase that limit by changing the values of network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-server and network.http.max-persistent-connections-per-proxy accordingly.

firefox extension multi thread downloading

The extension adds an icon to the main Firefox toolbar during installation that you may interact with. Downloads are listed in the interface when you click on it. Each download is listed with its name, speed, completion percentage and other information. There are also options to pause downloads or to cancel them at any time.

Multithreaded Download Manager picks up downloads in Firefox automatically but you may start manual download processes as well either by pasting a URL or URLs into the download form or by having it already in the Clipboard as the URL is used then automatically by the extension.

download manager firefox

The referring page is always the URL and title of the active tab. You may change that manually as well as the address. A click on link or media displays all links and all media files found on the active page to download these directly.

You may also add checksum information for verification and change network options including the number of threads, minimum chunk size, and maximum retries before the download is canceled.

The extension’s options are quite extensive. You may change network, interface, and other preferences, e.g. to automate the download process further, to automatically removed completed or failed downloads, to change several network preferences, or to modify the interface to better reflect what you need. There is even an option to add custom CSS snippets.

Closing Words

Multithreaded Download Manager may offer a good compromise between using a full download manager such as Internet Download Manager, HTTP Downloader, or uGet, and using a browser’s built-in download capabilities. It lacks some of the advanced options that desktop download managers offer, e.g. better management of downloaded files, but not everyone needs these.

Now You: do you use a download manager?

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Jot down notes quickly in a sidebar with the Nine Notes extension for Firefox

Note taking programs are always useful for saving ideas, thoughts, etc for later use. If you use the browser as a tool for work, you might as well use a notes add-on as it integrates notes taking in the browser. While some browsers support note taking by default, e.g. Vivaldi does, others come without such functionality and rely on extensions instead.

Jot down notes quickly in a sidebar with the Nine Notes extension for Firefox

Nine Notes is an extension for Firefox that can help you jot down notes quickly. When you install the add-on, it places an icon on the toolbar. Clicking it opens a sidebar, this is the extension’s interface. It is quite minimalistic.

Nine Notes interface

You’ll see 5 tabs in the sidebar, one for each note. To close the sidebar hit the X button in the top right corner of the panel. Head to the add-on’s options to enable up to nine note tabs.

Nine Notes interface 2

There is no way to rename or rearrange the tabs. The settings page also houses options to toggle a Dark theme, set the font size and type.

Nine Notes options

The Nine Notes text pane is just a large text field. You can type anything in it to save it. There is no support for formatting text or adding images. The add-on has soft wrap (word wrap) enabled by default; you can toggle it from the settings.

Highlight text on web pages and right-click on the selection to open the browser’s context menu. You will see an option that says “Send to 9 Notes”. This sub-menu has its own child menu, that can be used to select the “note number” that you wish to send the content to. For e.g. Sent to 9 Notes > #5.

This option saves the selected text in a new line at the end of the selected note. Sadly, this  method doesn’t work with links, emails (basically any clickable text). Speaking of, links that you save in the notes (by pasting the URL) are not clickable, but you can highlight them and use Firefox’s open in new tab option.

Nine Notes does not have a search option, so if you jot down something in one of the notes and don’t remember where you saved it, there is no direct way of finding it. You can paste the content in a text editor to find the content you were searching for.

Alternatively, you can use the “Save’ button in the bottom left corner of the sidebar, to save it in a text document which makes it easy to search, and this also lets you backup your notes. Each note tab is saved in its own text file, so remember to save all your note tabs. This is isn’t necessary, since the content that you save in Nine Notes are persistent, i.e., they are retained even after you exit the browser or reboot the computer.

Nine Notes save

The extension seems to have been inspired by an old add-on called QuickNote. Though, unlike it Nine Notes cannot be used from a pop-up window, i.e., it works as a sidebar tool. The extension does not support sticky notes or reminders. One of the comments by the developer on the add-on’s reviews page mentioned that Nine Notes supports a hotkey on Ubuntu: Shift + Alt + N. It works fine on Windows as well.

Nine Notes is not open source. On the bright side, the extension does not require any special permissions to run. The restriction to only have 9 note tabs can be a downside for some. There doesn’t seem to be a word limit per tab, so theoretically you could have endless notes. But this is a note taking program, not a text editor, though you can use it as one.

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Mozilla adds Dynamic First Party Isolation option to Firefox 77

Mozilla’s work on the Firefox browser’s tracking protection feature continues unhindered. The organization has now enabled a new option in Firefox 77, currently on the Nightly channel, that is called Dynamic First Party Isolation.

Firefox users may use tracking protection presets currently or create custom rule sets for blocking certain elements on websites that may be used for tracking.

When it comes to blocking cookies, the four custom options that are available in Firefox Stable are:

  • Cross-site and social media trackers
  • Cookies from unvisited sites.
  • All third-party cookies (may break some sites).
  • All cookies (will cause websites to break).

A fifth option has been added to Firefox 77 Nightly. To access the controls, load about:preferences#privacy in the Firefox address bar and select “custom” under Enhanced Tracking Protection. A click on the menu next to cookies should display the new option.

  • Cross-site and social media trackers, and isolate remaining cookies.

firefox-77-dynamic first party isolation

A warning is displayed when the new cookie behavior is selected:

Blocking trackers and isolating cookies could impact the functionality of some sites. Reload a page with trackers to load all content.

Some sites may not function correctly if certain elements are blocked on them. Mozilla suggests that users disable tracking protection on the site by adding an exception, to allow it to load correctly in the browser.

Firefox users may also use the following preference, network.cookie.cookieBehavior, to change the cookie handling of the browser.

  • Value of 1 — Block all third-party cookies.
  • Value of 2 — Block all cookies.
  • Value of 3 — Block cookies from unvisited sites.
  • Value of 4 — New Cookie Jar policy (prevent storage access to trackers)
  • Value of 5 — Dynamic First-Party Isolation.

Note that tabs need to be reloaded before the new value takes effect.

Mozilla implemented First-Party Isolation in Firefox 55 as a Tor uplift feature. The feature has never been exposed as a preference in Firefox but users could enable it by setting privacy.firstparty.isolate to true in the Firefox web browser.

First party isolation means that all identifier sources and browser state are scoped (isolated) using the URL bar domain.

Cookies, Cache, Dom Storage, and more are affected by the preference if it is enabled in Firefox. One reason why it is not enabled by default by Mozilla is that it may break some websites when enabled.

Firefox users who have set privacy.firstparty.isolate in the browser won’t see any change when they switch the cookie blocking value to include dynamic first-party isolation.

Now You: Do you block (some) cookies in your browser? (via Techdows)

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Mozilla extends add-ons support in new Firefox for Android browser

Mozilla released a new version of Firefox Preview for Android that introduces support for five additional add-ons in the application.

Firefox Preview is the name of the next mobile browser for Android that Mozilla develops currently. The organization started to replace development versions of Firefox for Android, notable Nightly and Beta, with Firefox Preview versions already and plans to migrate Firefox Stable for Android to the new Firefox version.

It was not clear from the very beginning whether the next version of Firefox for Android would support extensions; Mozilla decided that the browser would get extension support and started to integrate the WebExtensions system into the browser.

Mozilla included uBlock Origin support in Firefox Preview 4.0 that it released last month. The very latest Firefox Preview Nightly edition supports five additional extensions that users may install directly from within the browser.

firefox preview addons

All it takes is to open Menu > Settings > Addons to get a list of supported extensions and options to install those.

Extensions are listed with their name, icon, a short description and rating. A tap on the plus icon starts the installation process. Permissions that the extension requests are displayed in a prompt and another tap on “add” installs the extension in the mobile browser.

The following five extensions are now supported:

  • NoScript
  • HTTPS Everywhere
  • Privacy Badger
  • Dark Reader
  • Search by Image

All five of the extensions are in Mozilla’s Recommended Extensions program These extensions are reviewed manually by Mozilla and need to provide excellent functionality and regular updates.

The five extensions fall into two categories: privacy (and security), and usability. Dark Reader allows users to change the design of any website to a dark theme, Search by Image to run reverse image searches using the browser and various search engines that support it.

NoScript gives Firefox users control over JavaScript (and some other technologies) in the browser, HTTPS Everywhere updates HTTP sites to HTTPS if supported, and Privacy Badger blocks tracking elements on sites.

Mozilla plans to integrate full support for browser extensions eventually in the new Firefox for Android.

Extension support is one of the main distinguishing factors of the browser when compared to Google Chrome.

Closing Words

It will take some time before full extensions support lands in Firefox development versions and in Firefox Stable. The inclusion of popular extensions in the meantime is a step in the right direction, especially since Mozilla picked some of the most popular browser extensions for initial inclusion.

Now You: Do you plan to take the new Firefox browser for a test ride once it is ready?

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Speed up the loading of webpages in Firefox with Faster Pageload

Faster Pageload is a browser add-on for the Firefox web browser that may speed up the loading of webpages in the browser.

The extension uses preloading and lazy loading to speed up the loading of pages in Firefox.

Installation should not pose any difficulties; it requires access to all websites since it speeds up the loading of all sites encountered in the browser.

Users need to modify two Firefox preferences before they may use the extension to its fullest extent. The process is explained on a help page that is loaded automatically after the installation of the extension completes.

The two preferences in question need to be modified on Firefox’s about:config page:

  1. Search for network.dns.disablePrefetchFromHTTPS and set the preference to FALSE (this enables prefetching of DNS on HTTPS sites)
  2. Search for network.predictor.enable-prefetch and set the preference to TRUE (lets Firefox predict which links users will click on next to preload them).

The extension adds an icon to Firefox’s address bar that acts as a toggle for the extension’s functionality. The colorful icon indicates that the extension’s functionality is turned on, the gray icon that it has been disabled.

faster pageload

Faster Pageload works automatically from that moment on. It will preload resources when you hover over a link to speed up the loading if you actually click on that link. According to the developer, it takes an average of 400ms from hovering over a link to clicking it. The time is used to load the resource to speed up the loading.

The lazy loading works as expected; it loads images only when they are in view and will pause the loading of images that are not in view. Once images are about to come into view, e.g. by scrolling, they will be loaded as well so that they display normally. Note that it needs to be enabled in the options (see below)

The extension comes with two options that you may control on about:addons. The first enables the preloading of every visible link, the second enables the lazy loading of images in Firefox.

Closing Words

The extension may speed up the loading of webpages if these are loaded via clicks on links. It does not help if the webpages are loaded automatically, e.g. on browser start or through external applications.

Mileage may vary as the effectiveness of the preloading depends on a number of factors including the speed and latency of the Internet connection, the time it takes to click on links, and the linked resource itself.

If link loading is particularly slow on your end, you may want to give this a try to see if the extension speeds things up noticeably.

Now You: What is your take on preloading and lazy loading?

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