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Welcome to Firefox and Thunderbird Garage. This book will introduce you to the exciting world of safe and secure browsing and email using two great products: the Firefox browser and the Thunderbird email program.

Why This Book Is for You

This book is for you for a number of reasons. It might be that you are seeking an alternative browser or email program that will give you features that you can’t get with another program. You might be looking to switch from your current browser or email program because you have concerns about security. Perhaps you are an existing Firefox or Thunderbird user who is looking for ways to get more out of the programs. Or, you just might be ready for a change from what you’re using now. This book will show you what sets Firefox and Thunderbird apart from their competitors and the ways you can use both products to increase your organization and productivity. Here are some of the things that will be covered in the book:

Proactive software = more secure software. Firefox and Thunderbird are designed with built-in features that protect your security and privacy. Taking the “better to be safe than sorry” approach, Firefox and Thunderbird are engineered to let you know when bad things might be on the horizon. Features like remote image blocking and preventing scripts from running by default are examples of ways these products prevent potential trouble before it unfolds.

Flexible software. We all use browsers and email programs differently. Firefox and Thunderbird provide you with a wide variety of ways to customize the look and feel of the user interface with themes. Extensions—small programs and feature sets—can be added to Firefox and Thunderbird to enhance and extend both products’ capabilities. For example, you can install an extension in Firefox that blocks advertisements, or a calendar program that runs from the Thunderbird menu. Other extensions add a bevy of additional features that will satisfy even the most discriminating user.

Both products offer many performance features. Firefox has built-in Bookmarks and Download Managers that give you extensive control for tracking your favorite websites and the files and applications you’ve downloaded. Similarly, Thunderbird offers you many features that let you organize your mail in different fashions, with features such as Grouped by Sort and Saved Searches.

Dynamic software development. There is something that sets Firefox and Thunderbird apart from commercial products. Mozilla, the organization that brings you Firefox and Thunderbird, doesn’t have any interest in selling you a software product (after all, they’re free) and then locking you into paying for upgrades when they’re released. Firefox and Thunderbird rely on a vibrant open source community to provide input and feedback as new versions of the products are being developed. This means the software is always fresh and is continually undergoing scrutiny by the eagle eyes of open source contributors all over the world.

Finally, this book is for you because you are interested in exploring alternatives to what you already have and in learning as much as you can about harnessing the power of these programs. After reading this book, you’ll have a better appreciation of open source software development and the many advantages it offers. You’ll also have learned about two great programs that can make your computing life safer and more fun. Hop aboard—you’re in for a fascinating ride!

About This Book

This book is meant to be an introduction to the many features of Firefox and Thunderbird. You first learn about the open source concept and how it provides strong, secure software. You are then introduced to Firefox: what makes it unique and how to install it on your system, whether it’s Windows, Linux, or Mac. As part of the installation process, you’ll see how to import your settings and bookmarks from other browsers to make the process as seamless as possible. This book continues with information on security and privacy: how to surf the web and be safe while doing so. Along the way, you’ll learn about making the trip less annoying by cutting out popups and advertisements.

From there, this book continues with information on the many ways in which you can search the web from within Firefox to find just the thing you’re looking for. When you’ve found the right website, you need to keep track of it, so the book discusses bookmarks and history. Next, you’ll learn about one of the most popular features of Firefox: tabbed browsing, which allows most Internet users to multi-task in a whole new way. If you’re still looking for ways to enhance Firefox, you’ll see how to download and install extensions, plug-ins, and themes to customize the way Firefox does things to better suit your needs. The Firefox portion of the book concludes with information about downloading and customizing toolbars.

The Thunderbird section of this book picks up with information on installing and configuring Thunderbird. You’ll learn how to navigate Thunderbird and you’ll also see how to get help with the product. This book continues with information on setting up your mail accounts, with a particular eye toward migrating from an existing email program to minimize the time and effort you need to spend. You’ll next see how to avoid spam—the bane of email everywhere!—and avoid viruses and trojan horses that may come in via email. There’s extensive information on setting up mail folders and filtering your mail to them automatically. Finally, you’ll see how to customize Thunderbird using extensions and themes, similar to what you saw earlier for Firefox. Specific technical information is contained in a variety of appendices.

TOOL KIT: To Linux and Mac Users

There are some necessary differences in the Firefox and Thunderbird keyboard commands and menu options between the Windows, Linux, and Mac versions. For example, where Windows keyboard commands frequently incorporate the Ctrl key, Mac commands use the Cmd key. And while Windows and Linux keyboard commands and menu options are usually the same (or very similar), it’s not always true... and Mac menus can be different from both. In some cases, we’ve added the Linux and Mac commands to the text, but not always, simply because it would’ve complicated some otherwise straightforward procedures too much to no good effect. The book tends to use Windows commands only because the majority of our readers are likely to be using Firefox and Thunderbird on Windows and not because we’re trying to express a personal preference for one operating system over another. The appendices have a comprehensive list of keyboard commands, mouse commands, and menu options for Windows, Linux, and Mac versions. If you’re using a Linux or Mac system, you’ll quickly pick up the few differences, and you’ll be zipping along before you know it.

How This Book Is Organized

This book is divided into 13 chapters. Each chapter discusses one or two aspects of Firefox or Thunderbird and how to apply these programs to your specific browsing and email needs. Chapters and concepts are organized in the order you are most likely to need them.

Chapter 1, “Getting Started,” introduces you to the open source model of software development and why Firefox is so cool. You learn what you need in the way of hardware and software to install Firefox on your computer. You’ll also see how to get around in Firefox, how to transfer your settings and bookmarks from other browsers, and how to get help from a variety of sources.

In Chapter 2, “Protecting Your Security and Privacy,” you see how Firefox protects you from several serious security risks. The chapter first describes spyware, one of the biggest security and privacy problems on the web, and shows you how to avoid it. You then see how to use the Firefox Password Manager to maintain a comprehensive list of passwords. You also learn how to clean out your cache and your history to prevent someone from snooping on your computer and seeing what you’ve been doing on the Internet.

Chapter 3, “Ridding Yourself of the Annoyances of the Web,” is a short but snappy exposition on how to stop popups and banner ads from throwing sand in the gears. You’ll see how to suppress popup windows and how to avoid obnoxious graphics, either wholesale or selectively.

Chapter 4, “Searching the Web,” tells you how to use Firefox’s built-in searching features. You first learn about the Search bar and how to augment it. The chapter then shows you how to use the Find features to search for information within a web page. The chapter concludes with information about Smart Keywords, quick (and customizable) keywords to get you to a variety of websites for quick information.

Chapter 5, “Bookmarks and History,” describes how to save and view information about the websites you’ve been to. You first see how to create bookmarks of various kinds, including live bookmarks that update automatically. You learn how to organize bookmarks into folders and to sort them, both on the bookmark list and through the Bookmarks Manager. The chapter also shows you how to import and export bookmarks. In addition, you see how to use bookmarklets, very small single-purpose applications that look like bookmarks. The chapter concludes with information on how to use the sidebar to display your bookmarks as well as the history of the websites you’ve been to already.

Chapter 6, “Harnessing the Power of Tabbed Browsing,” teaches you how to use one of Firefox’s most popular features: tabs. You learn what tabs are, how to create them, and how to open web pages in them. You also see how to open entire folders in tabs on-the-fly.

Chapter 7, “Customizing Firefox with Third-Party Extensions and Themes,” introduces extensions and themes. The chapter opens with a description of where to look for extensions and how to download and install them. The chapter then takes you on a cook’s tour of the types of extensions available for Firefox and some of the best extensions out there. You next learn about themes and how to change the look and feel of Firefox with a theme. You also see a few themes that you might want to try yourself.

In Chapter 8, “Other Interesting Features,” you learn about downloading files using the Download Manager. You see how to pause and resume downloads and clear your download history. You also learn about such diverse topics as printing, customizing toolbars, and zooming in and out on a website’s text.

Chapter 9, “Getting Started with Mozilla Thunderbird,” introduces you to Thunderbird, the email client. You learn what you need in the way of hardware and software and you see how to install it on your computer. After a brief discussion of the basic screen elements, the chapter concludes with information on where to find online help.

Chapter 10, “Setting Up Your Mail, RSS, and Newsgroup Accounts Using Mozilla Thunderbird,” shows you how to migrate your settings and email information from other email programs that you have been using. The chapter shows you how to set up and configure your email accounts in Thunderbird, including how to set up RSS (news) accounts. You also see how to send and receive messages, use the address book, and maintain multiple email accounts in the same program.

Chapter 11, “Protecting Your Privacy and Blocking Spam,” gives you tips on how to avoid spam and what to do with it when it does show up. The chapter teaches you about junk mail and how to filter it automatically. You also see how to use passwords and privacy options to make sure you’re as secure as possible.

Chapter 12, “Organizing Your Email Topics,” presents information about filtering email and using folders to organize your email so you can find it easily in the future. You’ll also learn about sorting, doing quick searches, and using mail views and mail labels.

In Chapter 13, “Customizing the Look and Feel of Mozilla Thunderbird,” you learn about extensions and themes for Thunderbird (similar to what you saw earlier in Chapter 7). You also learn how to customize the toolbars in Thunderbird for maximum efficiency.

In addition to the chapters, there are six appendices:

Appendix A, “Keyboard and Mouse Shortcuts for Firefox,” lists the keyboard and mouse shortcuts that are available to you in Firefox for Windows, Linux, and Mac. You also see how these compare to the keyboard and mouse shortcuts in several other browsers, so your conversion process from another browser to Firefox is made that much easier.

Appendix B, “Keyboard and Mouse Shortcuts for Mozilla Thunderbird,” does much the same as Appendix A did for Firefox.

Appendix C, “Menu Commands for Firefox,” and Appendix D, “Menu Commands for Mozilla Thunderbird,” list the menus and commands for both programs and gives a description of what each menu command and option does.

Appendix E, “Hacking Configuration Files,” gives the technically minded some background on how you can get into the code for the product configuration files and make programmatic changes to what happens.

Appendix F, “Security, Certificates, and Validation” tells you how to set some additional security options and how to work with digital certificates.

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