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Netbooks have a small screen size. Following are some tips to help with a smaller viewing area, and a little less mouse usage.

Full screen

Because of the small screen size, simply reducing the size and number of the toolbars and size of icons will not be sufficient.

Firefox uses "F11" to toggle the page into or out of Full Screen mode hiding the title bar, all of the toolbars and the status bar . You can move the mouse through the top or bottom to see the toolbars or status bar.

The Auto Hide extension allows you to choose which toolbars will be displayed or hidden when in full screen mode (F11), and introduces a full window mode with the window not being changed in size ("Shift+F11") and with both Full Screen or Full Window you have the choice having any of the toolbars to be displayed or hidden, and if the status bar will be displayed, hidden, or displayed when busy. You can move the mouse through the top or bottom to view the toolbars or status bar if hidden.

A toolbar you might want to display all the time is the tabs bar. An alternative without using an extension such as "Auto Hide" is to use userChrome.css described later.

Since Auto Hide is not at add-ons there will be a yellow bar at top of web page you will have to reply to "Allow" when you install it. [1] [2]

For Windows 7 users, another Trick to show more space might be to hide the Edit menu in Firefox 3.6 through View -> Toolbars and to use the Alt key to make the Edit menu temporarily reappear in Windows applications. It may not work properly if you've added anything else to the menu bar, such as the search bar, or toolbar buttons.


Change the vertical scrolling to scroll up or down a full screen at a time with a change to your about:config entries. Change the value to 1 for mousewheel.withnokey.action

You also have available the Space Bar, Page Up, Page Dn keys to scroll a page at a time. You can use the shift key with the Space Bar to scroll up a page at a time. Smaller scrolling can be done with the arrow keys, or using/modifying other mousewheel configuration settings.

The Home key will take you to the top of the page, and the End key will take you to the bottom of the page.

If scrolling with the keyboard is not working then make sure that you have not enabled caret browsing mode with the F7 toggle [3]. If you are typing numbers instead of some of the above then switch off NumLock key (should have an indicator light).

Placing the cursor above or below the scroller thumb will move up or down one page. Placing the cursor at a position on the scrollbar and holding the left mouse button will move the scroller thumb and the view to the indicated position.

You can test your scrolling by watching the line numbers on the right side of this test web page.

Keyboard Shortcuts and Keyword Shortcuts

With the toolbars hidden two very useful Keyboard Shortcuts are "Ctrl+L" to place you into the Location Bar, and "Ctrl+K" to get you into the Search Bar.

Bookmarking with Ctrl+D may save dragging items clear across the screen, or clicking on the bookmark star.

Use of the Tab key (and "Shift+Tab") to move mouse to a link or entry point such as within a Form may save some mouse activity.

The use of Keyword Shortcuts can be a big time saver by working from the location bar to do searching, and to invoke bookmarks and bookmarklets.


If you have a cheap Netbook or Laptop, you might consider painting large bright white letters on black keys, then there really is no reason to need a lighted keyboard as the screen provides light. Cover paint lines with super glue to protect paint. The keys won't be slippery but at least you can see them.

External mouse

Use of a small external mouse can help a lot if using your Netbook at a desk, for portability choose a small wireless mouse with 5 buttons so you can also have Back, Forward, and Enter. There may be switch (best if it has an indicator light) to turn off touchpad, if not perhaps a setting in your Bios to disconnect touchpad when an external mouse is attached -- read your computer's manual, or in Windows 7 Mouse settings ("Disable Touch Pad of your Laptop; Avoid Erratic Cursor Movement When Typing'). Another method would be to install touchfreeze - Project Hosting on Google Code, which turns off touchpad while typing.


To make temporary changes to the font-size for a domain during your session use Ctrl++ to increase size, Ctrl+- to decrease size, or Ctrl+0 to restore normal size. The use of the "Mouse Zoom" and "Image Zoom" extensions are also useful when using an external mouse.

To make permanent changes to your default font-size which will have no effect on pages where the web author chooses fonts and font-size for you is at Tools → Options → Content → (Fonts and Colors). You might also check Accessibility features of Firefox or of your operating system for additional changes.

Small icons

Use small icons on toolbars: View -> Toolbars -> Customize, then at the bottom choose small icons.


While full screen mode is probably your most useful method of viewing web pages on a netbook there are additional changes that you can make. Some styling suggestions: Eliminate the folder and file icons to fit more folders and bookmarks on the Bookmarks Toolbar. Reduce the minimum width of the tabs to fit more tabs on the tabs bar. Reduce the height of toolbars and the spacing between toolbar buttons.

Adventurous users

Some Netbooks may be short of resources or intended for limited usage. You can make styling changes directly into userChrome.css and possibly avoid the need for some extensions such as "Auto Hide", "Stylish" and "Stylish Custom", but you would not be able to turn features on and off through an extension's options and would have to restart Firefox to test changes or to turn them on or off.

The following code can be implemented directly in userChrome.css to Always show the tabs bar even in Full Screen Mode (F11).

@namespace url(;
/* Always show the tabs bar -- see */
@-moz-document url(chrome://browser/content/browser.xul) {
#content > tabbox .tabbrowser-strip{visibility: visible !important; } }

The following code implemented in userChrome.css allows the sidebar to be resized narrower:

@-moz-document url(chrome://browser/content/browser.xul) {
#sidebar {
  min-width: inherit !important;
#sidebar-close {
  padding-left: 1% !important;
  padding-right: 1% !important;
#sidebar-switcher-arrow {
  display: none;
#sidebar-title {
  margin-left: 1% !important;
  margin-right: 1% !important;
} }

Rotate Display

PDF viewers provide for rotating screen, but the following does this for other applications as well and it rotates the mousepad as well.

"Ctrl+Alt+Right": rotate screen and touchpad by 270 degrees, "Ctrl+Alt+Up": back to normal.

Simulate Netbook display

Netbook display vary in size, but this example (800x480) simulates one of the smaller displays on a larger screen.[4]

First create the following keyworded bookmarklet with the following bookmark properties:

Name:    netbook: simulate Netbook size display
Location: javascript:self.resizeTo(800,480);self.moveTo(0,0);
Keyword: netbook:

To simulate the full screen Netbook display, F11Ctrl+L → type in "netbook:" into the location bar. The window size will remain until you resize normal view, or use Full Screen. Windows Status bar is about 32 pixels high when shown, to simulate loss of space reduce vertical height accordingly.

To find the screen resolution you are using on a Windows machine use "WinKey Windows Key.png + R" then type in "desk.cpl" into the Run box.

JavaScript no longer allowed to resize windows

Resizing with JavaScript has been made impossible beginning with Firefox 7.0.1 due to Bug 565541 – Web sites shouldn't be allowed to resize main window, which essentially renders automated simulations of other screensizes and other useful automated resizing and repositioning of windows impossible.  Be sure to read JavaScript no longer allowed to resize windows (on the Resizing oversize window page).

Operating system tweaks

There are a few things you can do to get more space on your operating system's desktop.

  • Windows: Right-click on Windows taskbar → Properties → Taskbar → Auto Hide the Task Bar. Can also be done/undone through the Control Panel → Taskbar and Start Menu.. Hovering at bottom of desktop will temporarily show the windows task bar.

See also