Browse the web using keyboard shortcuts with the Vim Vixen extension for Firefox - gHacks Tech News

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Browse the web, scroll, search, manage tabs, using keyboard shortcuts with the Vim Vixen extension for Firefox

Have you tried using keyboard shortcuts instead of the mouse whenever possible? It can make you work more efficiently, especially in browsers and text editors that support a huge number of shortcuts.

Browse the web, scroll, search, manage tabs, using keyboard shortcuts with the Vim Vixen extension for Firefox

Vim users may know what I'm talking about. Vim Vixen is a keybinding extension for Firefox that offers Vim-like shortcuts. It not only introduces shortcuts to several options (not present by default in Firefox), but also simplifies some existing shortcut combinations.

Tip: Firefox users may check out Vimium-FF which offers similar functionality.

For e.g. normally, to reopen a closed tab, we use Ctrl + Shift + T. Vim Vixen lets you do the same with a single key, U.

There is no interactive tutorial available, but there is some documentation that you can go through on the project's page. The keyboard shortcuts are common across most Vim-like extensions (refer to the end of the article for the names). So, if you are familiar with one of these, chances are you can switch over to another seamlessly.

To scroll down a page, use the j key, to scroll up hit k. Scroll down half the page with Ctrl + U or Ctrl + D. The list of basic shortcuts are displayed on the add-on's page. I recommend using it as a cheat-sheet until you get used to it.

Vim Vixen replaces some existing shortcuts. For e.g. Ctrl + F will not bring up the "Find in page" option, nor will Ctrl +B bring up the Bookmarks bar. Instead, these shortcuts are used for scrolling a page by the screen. So, how do you search for text on the page? Tap / and a command bar appears at the bottom of the page. Enter the search term and hit enter. Navigate between the matched words using n or N.

Vim Vixen find in page

Don't worry if this is confusing, this can be fixed easily. Go to the about:addons page for Vim Vixen to configure the key bindings. There are 2 ways to do this form and plain JSON.

Configure Vim Vixen

Form is the user-friendly option of the two, all you need to do is select a keyboard combination for the shortcut you want.

Configure Vim Vixen JSON

Some shortcuts require you to double tap a key. For e.g. gg scrolls to the top of the page. Vim Vixen also supports case-sensitive hotkeys, a capital G, i.e. Shift + G will scroll to the bottom of the page.

Don't want to use Vim Vixen on a website? Use Shift + Esc or click on the extension's button on the toolbar to toggle it for the current webpage. This can be useful for webpages that have their own set of keyboard shortcuts (streaming sites, reddit with RES, etc).

Vim Vixen link shortcuts

Hit F to highlight links on the page, Vim Vixen will place letters on the screen over each link, representing a shortcut to it. Tap the keys to open the corresponding link. Similarly, you can navigate links, manage tabs, history, zoom, etc using simple shortcuts. For e.g. F to view links, followed by L will open the link for the Microsoft article (in the above screenshot).

Console

Vim Vixen has a console that can be accessed by tapping ":". You can enter different commands in it to perform some actions such as opening a new tab, window, select tabs, set the zoom level, etc.

Vim Vixen console

Use open to load a URL. For e.g. If you want to open Ghacks' homepage in a new tab, the command would be

:open ghacks.net

You can also use o instead.

:o ghacks.net

Vim Vixen console open url

To perform an online lookup, use the open command along with a keyword, and it will load the results using Google. You can customize the Search Engines from the add-on's options.

:open ghacks windows

Vim Vixen console search google

or

:o ghacks firefox

Want to open or search in a new tab? Use the tabopen command instead. For e.g.

:tabopen ghacks.net

Vim Vixen console open url in a new tab

or

:t ghacks firefox

Vim Vixen console search in new tab

Vim Vixen is an open source extension.

As a long time SurfingKeys user, I had little trouble getting used to Vim Vixen. I'd say it's a tad easier to get into than the former, because SurfingKeys has a lot more options, not to mention an editor. If you have never used Vim, you can get your feet wet with Vim Vixen before moving on to more powerful add-ons.

Don't like it? There are plenty of other extensions to choose from such as: SurfingKeys, Tridactyl, Vimium-FF, Vimium C, Saka Key.

Summary
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Author Rating
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1 based on 1 votes
Software Name
Vim Vixen
Operating System
Firefox
Software Category
Productivity
Price
Free
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Comments

  1. Allwynd said on September 15, 2020 at 7:49 am
    Reply

    Unless this is aimed at a very specific target audience, I don’t see how it’s better than the traditional way in operating a browser. I remember many years ago I discovered the Mouse Gestures extensions or some browsers having it by default and I forced myself to start using it, but later on decided I don’t really needed and quickly lost the habit, now I don’t see much use for it anyways, it’s just a gimmick that can be fun for like 10 seconds. As for this keyboard navigation, my guess is that the only scenario where this is viable is if a mouse is not present for whatever reason.

    1. Stefano Dissanayake said on September 21, 2020 at 11:29 pm
      Reply

      using hjkl feels so good man. Also I can click links without constantly reaching for my keyboard by pressing “f” and then the hints. To find stuff in a page I can just press “/” rather than Ctrl+f which is one less keypress. When I want to go back I can just press H and so on. I use vimium now that I am on the brave browser because mozilla sucks but back when I used firefox I used vim vixen and the even better addon called Trydactyl which seeks to reimplement the pure awesomeness which was Pentadactyl (you can still use Penta on Palemoon ofc).

      I agree mouse gestures suck. Speaking of which gestures on my huawei phone also suck. I want those buttons at the front of my android phone back. I have lost count of how often I end up going back by mistake because I swiped the wrong way or something. So annoying.

  2. Tex said on September 16, 2020 at 3:36 am
    Reply

    I love keyboard shortcuts and find they save time and help prevent repetitive stress injuries.

    The challenge I have with them is remembering them.

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