1. Faster loading

If you haven’t moved your mouse or touched the keyboard for 0.75 seconds (the content switch threshold) then Firefox enters a low frequency interrupt mode, which means its interface becomes less responsive but your page loads more quickly. Reducing the content switch threshold can improve performance, then, and it only takes a moment.

Type about:config and press [Enter], right-click in the window and select New > Integer. Type content.switch.threshold, click OK, enter 250000 (a quarter of a second) and click OK to finish.

2. No interruptions

You can take the last step even further by telling Firefox to ignore user interface events altogether until the current page has been downloaded. This is a little drastic as Firefox could remain unresponsive for quite some time, but try this and see how it works for you.

Type about:config, press [Enter], right-click in the window and select New > Boolean. Type content.interrupt.parsing, click OK, set the value to False and click OK.

3. Block Flash

Intrusive Flash animations are everywhere, popping up over the content you actually want to read and slowing down your browsing. Fortunately there’s a very easy solution. Install the Flashblock extension (flashblock.mozdev.org) and it’ll block all Flash applets from loading, so web pages will display much more quickly. And if you discover some Flash content that isn’t entirely useless, just click its placeholder to download and view the applet as normal.

4. Increase the cache size

As you browse the web so Firefox stores site images and scripts in a local memory cache, where they can be speedily retrieved if you revisit the same page. If you have plenty of RAM (2 GB of more), leave Firefox running all the time and regularly return to pages then you can improve performance by increasing this cache size. Type about:config and press [Enter], then right-click anywhere in the window and select New > Integer. Type browser.cache.memory.capacity, click OK, enter 65536 and click OK, then restart your browser to get the new, larger cache.

5. Enable TraceMonkey

TraceMonkey is a new Firefox feature that converts slow Javascript into super-speedy x86 code, and so lets it run some functions anything up to 20 times faster than the current version. It’s still buggy so isn’t available in the regular Firefox download yet, but if you’re willing to risk the odd crash or two then there’s an easy way to try it out.

Install the latest nightly build (ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/nightly/latest-trunk/), launch it, type about:config in the address bar and press Enter. Type JIT in the filter box, then double-click javascript.options.jit.chrome andjavascript.options.jit.content to change their values to true, and that’s it – you’re running the fastest Firefox Javascript engine ever.