Web browser hacks

Castor oil for your webs—ts

April 20, 2017 — January 19, 2024

computers are awful
computers are awful together
faster pussycat

1 Which browser?

Figure 1

1.1 Firefox

See Firefox

1.2 Chromium

See Chromium browsers.

1.3 Safari

Safari is also a thing, although AFAICT it is a force on Apple mobile devices only. I actually use it quite a lot because it is good at Single Site Browsers.

2 Attention management

See blocking distractions.

tl;dr: I use and endorse leechblock (Chrome/Firefox). and the comment blocker, shutup to avoid internet distractions.

3 Privacy

Various privacy-related tweaks are advisable. See browsing confidentially.

4 Single site browsers

See Single Site Browsers.

5 Browser containers

“Private Browsing mode revised and improved”. If my browser was a separate browser for each activity and facebook did not get free market research on me when I visit

Currently this only works smoothly for Firefox, so see the firefox page.

These have obvious privacy implications.

One could probably cobble together something similar for Chrome using multiple users, but that sounds boring. The Firefox solution is simpler.

There are many other uses for these. For example,

  1. my organisation will not let me log into two separate Outlook instances at the same time, in the outlook client. But it will let me log in to multiple browser instances of outlook.com, in the same browser, if they are in separate containers.
  2. One can also use them to create multiple fake identities for nagware sites like medium.com that only let you read a certain number of articles per month.
  3. If a site wants me to unlock a download by retweeting it, I can make a disposable twitter account which I log into in a container, so that my main twitter account is not polluted with automated spam.

6 Style customisation

You want your internet your way, right? I seem to remember that being part of the original promise of CSS, although in practice it has been tedious and difficult to enact that for various reasons. There is a community of people living this dream despite the obstacles. They use browser extensions Stylus and (See also xstyle which eases using these styles automatically. These are the products of a DIY punk web-styling community who maintain a standard called usercss. Styles can be found on the polished but spyware-tarnished userstyles.org or in repositories online e.g. github userstyles.

If the interface for Stylus seems clunky it is because it was forked from an older version called Stylish that seemed to be a de-facto standard for this. Stylish was found to be spying in a sordid way and this AFAICT continues. Beware.

There are also various custom styles that come packaged as extensions in their own right. Modern for Wikipedia, for example, is nice.

7 State management

Organising windows/tabs/bookmarks and possibly even syncing tabs/booksmarks/history/etc across devices.

There are many versions of this that do lots of fancy things, syncing browser state via various services and through various wossnames. I prefer to avoid the obtrusive ones.

A favourite of mine is Copy as Markdown, which simply copies tabs as markdown links, which work great for saving links to this very blog. If I wanted to export tabs in some other format, alct/export-tabs-urls might be good. Both these option merely require me to store text files, which skill I have down, baby.

The other ones I tried are listed below, but they were all over-engineered, discontinued, unstable or whatever and I no longer use them.

Worldbrain Memex is a browser note-taking assistant which does fancy version of tab syncing I guess?

I started with One Tab:

Whenever you find yourself with too many tabs, click the OneTab icon to convert all of your tabs into a list. When you need to access the tabs again, you can either restore them individually or all at once.

Sadly it’s closed-source abandonware. There are competitors, such as better-onetab, (Chrome/Firefox) and tabs-aside, which are also open source. I like better-onetab, which I have turned into a cross-browser sync via exporting to files and using file sync, so I gave the extension’s creator money.

A commercial option (free for beta) is : Toby. Looks neat but I wonder how much one should trust them with such intimate data as what you are browsing?

8 Password managers

You need a password manager. Get one. It’s free and quick. After the ten minutes learning how it works, it will save you a few moments every one of the tens of thousands of times that you log into other things.

9 Automation

See browser automation.

10 Incoming

Viewimage fixes google search.