How to Switch to Firefox and Why You should

First things first, what is Firefox? Well, it's a browser. Ok but what's that? A browser is a computer program used to view web pages, to browse through the world wide web. In fact you are reading this article with a browser at the moment. Browsers are very useful. For a start, they can remember what pages you have looked at, you can even store your favourite pages as Bookmarks. Browsers can do much more depending on which one you have.

Firefox is a free browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation. The Mozilla Foundation develops open source software. Another excellent application is Thunderbird, an email program.

More than likely you are using Internet Explorer to view this webpage. This browser is part of Microsoft Windows operating system. To check which browser you are using:

  • Click on the Help in your browsers menu bar. (It's the last option on the right hand side, after File, Edit?)
  • Click on the last option in the menu that appears.
  • If it says Microsoft Internet Explorer® then you have the browser that between 80% and 90% (depending on who you talk to) use.

    So why change?

    Security: Most experts agree that you are less likely to be the subject of a malicious attack by "hackers" if you use Firefox than if you use Internet Explorer.

    Firefox Extensions: There is a whole array of quick and easy to install extensions available for Firefox. Extensions add functionality to your browser. They are a bit like the added extras that you get with your car (except they're free!). Everything from Ad blockers to your local weather forecast.

    Tabbed browsing: Instead of opening your browser more than once to view more than one page at a time, which can slow down your computer, tabbed browsing allows you to open many web pages, in tabs, in only one browser.

    So how do you get the Firefox browser?

  • Click on this link to go to the Firefox download page.
  • In the top right corner of the page is a green area with a link to the free download.
  • When the dialog box appears, click save.
  • Select a location to download the file to.
  • The file should start downloading to the location you selected.
  • When the file has finished downloading, (it should be called something like Firefox Setup 1.0.5.exe) double click on it to open it.
  • If you have Windows XP service pack 2 is installed, a dialog box may appear. Select execute.
  • After Firefox has extracted, click next.
  • Click on the radio button beside 'I accept the terms of the License Agreement' and then click on the next button.
  • The standard installation is fine so just click on the next button.
  • This screen just confirms the location that Firefox is to installed, so just click on the next button again.
  • Click Finish to complete the installation and launch Firefox.
  • Congratulations! You have now installed Firefox. When Firefox starts the first time it will ask if you want to set Firefox as your default browser. Select yes.

    One last thing. Under no circumstances remove Internet Explorer from your system. Firefox is a better browser but Internet Explorer is used by your computer for other things than browsing the web.

    Aonghus Flynn is an Irish web developer specialising in Flash development. Aonghus has over 7 years experience in the IT industry as a developer and a trainer. You can reach him at

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