Internet browser tricks and tips

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Internet browser tricks and tips

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:04 am

Hello fellow TR forumists,

I would like to start a thread about useful little tricks and tips for various internet browsers . Obviously I will need your contributions, as i will not research them nor will i encourage you to, just share what you already know.

Simeple rules when presenting the tip, state the browser name and operating system and then share what you want to.

I'll start:
Internet Explorer 9, Windows 7
Ctrl+Shift+T reopens recently closed tabs. Say you accidentaly closed a tab and don't really remember how you accessed it in the first place, what do you do? Well, now you know the quickest way to reopen it.
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Disclaimer: All answers and suggestions are provided by an enthusiastic amateur and are therefore without warranty either explicit or implicit. Basically you use my suggestions at your own risk.
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Re: Internet browser tricks and tips

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:47 am

Arclight wrote:Internet Explorer 9, Windows 7
Ctrl+Shift+T reopens recently closed tabs. Say you accidentaly closed a tab and don't really remember how you accessed it in the first place, what do you do? Well, now you know the quickest way to reopen it.

Chrome (and Firefox I believe) uses the same key combo for the same thing.
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Re: Internet browser tricks and tips

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:29 pm

Ctrl+T: new tab
Ctrl+N: new window
Ctrl+Tab: next tab
Ctrl+Shift+Tab: previous tab
Ctrl+Left Click OR Middle Click on a hyperlink: opens link in new tab

I've used these with IE, FF, and Chrome.
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Re: Internet browser tricks and tips

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:50 pm

My favorite browser trick actually requires a little advance preparation: You need to have a Linux server running on your home broadband connection with OpenSSH installed. Once you've got the server set up, the trick itself works with all popular browsers and client OSes.

When you're on the road using public WiFi hotspots, start a SSH session to your server (PuTTY is the best free SSH client for Windows), and specify the option "-D 1080" when opening the session. Now go into your browser's network settings and tell it to use localhost as a SOCKS proxy.

What does this do? It secures even insecure (unencrypted HTTP) connections from anyone eavesdropping on the public WiFi signal. All web traffic to/from your laptop over the WiFi connection has strong encryption applied to it, and gets bounced through your home broadband connection (which is presumably less vulnerable to snooping than a public WiFi hotspot).

A very useful trick until the day comes where all web traffic is HTTPS by default.

This also has the effect of hiding your IP (and hence physical location) from any of the sites you connect to, since the connections will all appear to originate from your home broadband connection. (This aspect will be much less important to most people than the security angle though.)

Edit:

It is also worth noting that HTTPS isn't bulletproof either, so it makes sense to protect as much of your connection as possible, even *with* HTTPS.

Root CAs have been compromised in the past, and it will happen again. Someone with leverage (blackmail, a government with influence over a root CA operating in that country, etc.) could also acquire forged SSL certs. Bogus certs (ones that don't even originate from a legitimate CA) can also be surreptitiously installed on client machines, either through social engineering or an unpatched exploit in the client OS. What does this mean? It means that someone with access to any point in the pipeline between you and the site you're accessing can theoretically spoof the SSL cert of the target site, and (via a Man-in-the-middle attack) decrypt all of your HTTPS traffic without your browser (or you, or the site you're talking to) ever being aware. Sorry this has turned into a bit of a security rant, but IMO the current system of CAs and SSL certs has some serious weaknesses that are eventually going to bite us in the posterior -- in the form of ID theft and financial fraud on a massive scale, widespread invasion of privacy, or possibly even up to and including an existential threat to national security.

As the proverbial curse goes, "May you live in interesting times!"
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Re: Internet browser tricks and tips

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:07 pm

Firefox - any OS:
  • middle clicking on any unused portion of the tab bar will open a new tab.
  • there is a feature called "Tab Groups" that lets you group your tabs visually that isn't exposed by default (at least... it wasn't in my current installation). Right-click on the tab bar, click customize, and drag the "Tab Groups" icon somewhere on the tool bars. Comes in handy when you need to segment tabs into subject.
  • enable automatic NTLM authentication: go to about:config and search for "network.automatic-ntlm-auth.trusted-uris" add the URI of any resource that you want to automatically authenticate with instead of having to manually log in. Particularly useful when you use a SharePoint based intranet.
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Re: Internet browser tricks and tips

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:18 pm

I haven't investigated to see if other browsers do this, but in Firefox I use the Keyword function of a bookmark. Let's say I'm looking for a guitar tab, traditionally I would type the url http://www.ultimate-guitar.com, then click in the search-box and type my search, for example 'Fast Car'. Well to speed this up, you can right click any search box like that and add a 'Keyword'. Doing this creates a bookmark (which I sort away in a special folder) where you choose a keyword associated with the search-box/website. My keyword is 'tab' when searching http://www.ultimate-guitar.com, so whenever I'm looking for a guitar tab, instead of having to navigate to the the website and do my search I simply type the following in the address bar: tab fast car. Voilà! I instantly get to the search results page of http://www.ultimate-guitar.com! Here's a my top three keyword searches I personally cannot live without:

wiki - wikipedia.org (always useful)
acro - acronymfinder.com (to keep up with the kids)
st - wookiepedia.org (I'm a geek)
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Re: Internet browser tricks and tips

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:40 pm

just brew it! wrote:My favorite browser trick actually requires a little advance preparation: You need to have a Linux server running on your home broadband connection with OpenSSH installed. Once you've got the server set up, the trick itself works with all popular browsers and client OSes.

When you're on the road using public WiFi hotspots, start a SSH session to your server (PuTTY is the best free SSH client for Windows), and specify the option "-D 1080" when opening the session. Now go into your browser's network settings and tell it to use localhost as a SOCKS proxy.

What does this do? It secures even insecure (unencrypted HTTP) connections from anyone eavesdropping on the public WiFi signal. All web traffic to/from your laptop over the WiFi connection has strong encryption applied to it, and gets bounced through your home broadband connection (which is presumably less vulnerable to snooping than a public WiFi hotspot).

There's also a Windows "version" of OpenSSH that's packaged with just enough Python to make it work on Windows.

Question: What does the "-D 1080" option accomplish?

EDIT: Scratch Python and insert CygWin.
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Re: Internet browser tricks and tips

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:59 pm

Captain Ned wrote:Question: What does the "-D 1080" option accomplish?

It tells SSH to create a SOCKS proxy with the client side accepting connections on port 1080 of the local machine, the Internet-facing side on the remote machine, and an encrypted pipe linking the two. SSH is often used as a secure transport for other things as well -- RDP/VNC remote desktops, individual remote X Window applications, efficient transfer/synchronization of entire directory hierarchies (underlying transport mechanism for scp/sftp/rsync), etc., and the beauty of it is that only one port (the SSH port) needs to be opened through any intervening firewalls.

It's stuff like this that has given SSH a reputation for being the "Swiss Army knife" of secure communications.
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Re: Internet browser tricks and tips

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:47 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Captain Ned wrote:Question: What does the "-D 1080" option accomplish?

It tells SSH to create a SOCKS proxy with the client side accepting connections on port 1080 of the local machine, the Internet-facing side on the remote machine, and an encrypted pipe linking the two. SSH is often used as a secure transport for other things as well -- RDP/VNC remote desktops, individual remote X Window applications, efficient transfer/synchronization of entire directory hierarchies (underlying transport mechanism for scp/sftp/rsync), etc., and the beauty of it is that only one port (the SSH port) needs to be opened through any intervening firewalls.

It's stuff like this that has given SSH a reputation for being the "Swiss Army knife" of secure communications.

Hmm, I now wonder if my PuTTY client is actually properly configured. I set mine to use port 443 (an easy one to slide past corporate firewalls) but I don't see the -D option anywhere. The browser side clearly uses a SOCKS proxy, so hopefully the encrypted tunnel has been established.
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Re: Internet browser tricks and tips

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:14 pm

In PuTTY the -D option would be selecting the Dynamic radio button, IIRC.
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Re: Internet browser tricks and tips

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:18 pm

If you told the browser to use the proxy and external web pages are loading, it's working.

The -D option is just the PuTTY (and SSH) command line equivalent of some of the settings in PuTTY's connection configuration GUI. For someone like me who jumps back and forth between Windows and Linux systems a lot, -D is easier to remember since it works the same in both universes. :wink:
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Re: Internet browser tricks and tips

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 6:47 pm

just brew it! wrote:The -D option is just the PuTTY (and SSH) command line equivalent of some of the settings in PuTTY's connection configuration GUI. For someone like me who jumps back and forth between Windows and Linux systems a lot, -D is easier to remember since it works the same in both universes. :wink:

This may be an admission that revokes my geek card but I really dislike CLI if I have a GUI option. I can do CLI if I have to, but I'll grumble about it all the way until I'm done.

That said, it looks like I've checked all the right boxes.
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Re: Internet browser tricks and tips

Postposted on Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:41 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:In PuTTY the -D option would be selecting the Dynamic radio button, IIRC.

Sounds right. Or at least reasonable. :lol:
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