Focus Keyboard Improves Your Firefox Workflow

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 18, 2011
Updated • Mar 5, 2015
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

Focus Keyboard is an experimental Firefox add-on that helps you improve your workflow in many ways. How do you handle the following situations? You want to copy a web address and load it in Firefox. You want to change the current web address. You want to load your favorite search engine and enter a search term.

All of those activities require clicking and typing, unless you have installed add-ons that optimize the process, or tweaked the browser in other ways to speed things up.

Focus Keyboard offers a solution for all of those situations, and several more. Lets take a closer look at the Firefox extension.

The add-on offers two core features and several additional enhancements that improve the workflow.

Once installed it is possible to type anywhere (except if a form is selected) on the screen to enter text into the Firefox address bar. You can start to type the web url immediately instead of having to click into the address bar, or pressing Ctrl-l to activate the location bar first.

The second core feature is the ability to flip through all forms on the page with the tab key. Just press Tab anywhere and it will automatically put the focus on the next form field in the browser.

Those two options alone are pretty handy, especially for users who type in web addresses manually and who work with forms regularly. The form focus can for instance be used to focus the form on Google Search and other websites where the search form is not automatically put into focus.

Focus Keyboard offers additional features that may be useful in certain situations. It is for instance possible to use the shortcut Ctrl-v anywhere on the screen (again with the exception of active forms) to paste the text into the Firefox location bar.

It furthermore offers to jump straight to the end of the location bar's text with the Delete key and to reload the current page with the enter key. It is finally possible to remove focus from the active web form by pressing Escape.

The extension's options offer customizations. Here it is possible to deactivate one of the available features and to configure the form elements that will be included when the tab key is pressed. It is for instance possible to restrict the elements to text input and textarea elements so that other objects are not focused when tab is pressed on the keyboard.

Focus Keyboard can improve your workflow considerably. Especially the ability to enter and paste text into the address bar without focusing it first, and the option to flip through all text fields on a page are noteworthy. Interested users can download the Firefox add-on from the official Firefox add-on repository.

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  1. -Pablo- said on March 20, 2011 at 3:33 am

    I finally tried it out in a virtual machine and found out it’s actually not as useful as it may sound. This extension renders useless all “keybard shortcuts” within websites. Things like GMail, Google Reader, Twitter and many other web sites/apps that rely heavily on keyboard use are affected. Of course one can disable that feature in the extension’s settings, but that defeats for me the whole purpose of having it installed.

  2. -Pablo- said on March 19, 2011 at 2:32 am

    Sounds interestingh but is Windows-only, sadly. So I can’t try it.

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