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(Guide/Review) Browse the web, scroll, search, manage tabs, using keyboard shortcuts with the Vim Vixen extension for Firefox

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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.




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).


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


: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


: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.


Landing Page: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/vim-vixen/



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



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