WebExtension Vimium-FF brings Vim-like controls to Firefox

Vimium-FF is a new Firefox WebExtension that is marked as experimental right now that brings Vim-like controls to the Firefox web browser.

What this means? Basically, that you get a lot of keyboard shortcuts that you can use for navigation, and other browser features.

Several add-ons are already available that add the functionality to the Firefox web browser. These are not WebExtensions (yet) though, which means that they will not be supported by Firefox 57 if they are not ported.

These add-ons have quite the following: Vimperator has more than 27500 users and 228 five star ratings, VimFx 22300 users and 178 five star ratings. The author of VimFx already mentioned that he won’t port the extension right away, while the author of Vimperator is looking for support to port the extension.

Vimium-FF

vimium-ff

Vimium-FF is a port of the Google Chrome extension Vimium. Most of the functionality of the Chrome extension is already part of Firefox but the extension remains a work in progress according to the description on Mozilla AMO.

Vimium-FF requests quite a few permissions during installation: Access your data for all websites, read and modify bookmarks, get data from the clipboard, access browsing history, display notifications, access recently closed tabs, access browser tabs, and access browser activity during navigation. These permissions are required for the functionality that it adds to Firefox.

Vimium-FF adds zounds of keyboard shortcuts to the Firefox web browser. Note that you need to disable the “search for text when you start typing” option if you have enabled it under about:preferences#general to use Vimium-FF (as you will send the keys you tap on to the search form otherwise).

You can tap on the ? key on your keyboard to bring up the help on the screen. The help highlights all the active keys that you may use, and shows you what each of the keys does.

vimium keys

The core benefit that Vimium-FF offers (and other Vim-like extensions as well), is that you may use the keyboard for many operations.

You can scroll using the keyboard by tapping on j and k to scroll down or up, or h and l to scroll left or right. You can hit r to reload the page, or P to open a Clipboard URL in a new tab. You can use F to open a link that is selected in a new tab, or navigate tabs using J or K.

There is a lot more to it than that.  The following keys are supported right now.

Navigation

  • j or Ctrl-e — scroll down
  • k or Ctrl-y — scroll up
  • gg — scroll to top
  • G — scroll to bottom
  • d — scroll a half-page down
  • u — scroll a half-page up
  • h — scroll left
  • l — scroll right
  • r — reload page
  • yy — copy URL to clipboard
  • p — open the URL in the clipboard in the current tab
  • P — open the Clipboard URL in a new tab
  • i — enter insert mode
  • v — enter visual mode
  • gi — focus the first text input field on the page
  • f — open a link in the current tab
  • F — open a link in a new tab
  • gf — select the next frame on the page
  • gF — select the page’s main/top frame

Vomnibar

  • o — open URL, bookmark or history entry
  • O — open URL, bookmark or history entry in new tab
  • b — open a bookmark
  • B — open a bookmark in a new tab
  • T — search through your open tabs

Find

  • / — enter find mode
  • n — cycle forward to the next find match
  • N — cycle backward to the previous find match

Navigating history

  • H — go back in history
  • L — go forward in history

Manipulating tabs

  • t — create a new tab
  • J or gT — go one tab left
  • K or gt — go one tab right
  • ^ — go to previously active tab
  • g0 — to to the first tab
  • g$ — go to the last tab
  • yt — duplicate current tab
  • Alt-P — pin or unpin current tab
  • Alt-m — toggle mute
  • x — close current tab
  • X — restore closed tab

Vimium-FF supports rules, and may be disabled on select web pages. This is useful if you notice issues on pages while the extension is active.

To disable it on an active page, click on the Vimium-FF icon in the browser’s toolbar, and hit the add rule button. You can exclude all keys, or only select keys on web pages.

Rules can be added on the options page as well. There you find options to create custom key mappings, for instance to unmap keys, or map keys to different functions, and add custom search engines which you may use in the Vomnibar.

A click on advanced options opens those. You find a lot of options there, for instance the patterns that Vimium identifies for forward and backward page navigation, an option to block pages from stealing focus on load, or a custom address for the New Tab URL.

Closing Words

Firefox users who rely on Vim-like functionality in the browser have finally an option that they may use when Mozilla switches the browser to WebExtension only support. It worked really well during tests, despite its experimental label currently.

Now You: Do you use a Vim-like extension?

Author Rating

5 based on 2 votes

Software Name

Vimium-FF

Software Category

Browser

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