02 Juni 2011


How to use Firefox as a science tool? Well, you know the short and easy answer. Zotero. But Zotero alone is not enough, at least for me. And since I do this so many times in the past several months, I might as well write it down. So here's how to turn your Firefox into a powerful scientific tool in 8 steps.
  1. Install Firefox. You know how to do it, right? ;)

  2. Install Zotero. Just open the website and follow the instruction.

  3. Install zotero word processor plugin. It's available for MS Word (Windows and Mac), OpenOffice, LibreOffice and NeoOffice.

  4. If you are working on several machines, you need to use one data directory, otherwise you'll end up with different libraries in different machines. That's why I use flashdrive to store all zotero-related files. The data directory usually is a folder named zotero, and consists of several zotero.sqlite files. You can view and edit the data directory location in Action (the gear icon) > Preference > Advanced.

  5. If you're a long time firefox user, you probably don't like the Firefox 4 look that sort of trying too hard to be like Chrome. I personally like Chrome simply because it's, well, simplicity. However, Firefox has functionalities that chrome lacks of, and actually very useful for our purpose. Dedoimedo shares some tips to pimp-up your Firefox.

  6. Also, since Firefox 3.6 or something, they make the new tab opens at the next tab, which I hate. Here's how to modify if you prefer the new tab open at far right.

  7. Manage your search engine. This is what I like about Firefox compared to Chrome. You can easily customize your search engines and access it with shortcut (in case you don't know, it's ctrl-K or cmd-K). Of course you don't need bing and Yahoo. I also got rid of e-bay, but kept amazon because you sometimes need book's bibliography as well. I kept Google and Wikipedia, and added Google Scholar (a super-brilliant add-on) and a dictionary (usually Merriam-Webster).

  8. And if you're still not satisfied, manage your bookmarks. I set BBC News-Science and Environment as my homepage. Yeah, I know, a little bit pretentious. I removed Most Visited and Getting Started bookmarks, but kept Latest Headlines. Then I added Scopus and Web of Science. You have to be subscribed for these two sites, I'm afraid. I also added DOI homepage in bookmark.
And that's it. Your Firefox is ready. FYI, you probably need to restart Firefox several times along the way, at least for number 2-4, so plan your installation carefully.

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