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About:about - Your Secret Tunnel To Tons Of Browser-related Information


We all know about "about:blank". Have you ever thought about "about:about"? I didn't, till recently. It's hard to believe, but this is how it happened! While on a search for finding something humorous about "about:blank", I stumbled on "about:about" and couldn't stop being amazed at how much browser-related information I missed all my life without knowing about it. There can be very few browser-related commands like "about:about". Type it in the address bar in every browser for the ultimate collection of any and every configurable and read-only browser-related parameter, a lot of which we may not find in regular Edit->Preferences. Once I knew about this obscure command, I ran it through the three browsers I have on my laptop and collected text and screenshots of the various options of this powerful command. Other than the Chrome, Firefox and Opera browsers you see in this article, I'm sure every other version of every other browser on every other operating system will have it's own unique implementation of this command.

1. OPERA-11.60 [Linux]


While Chrome and Firefox have links for the various about command options, Opera has only one pageful of important information. Just long static text with a few links but mostly read-only. Here's a quick look at a part of it.


Version information
Version 11.60
Build 1185
Platform Linux
System i686, 2.6.33.2

Browser identification
Opera/9.80 (X11; Linux i686; U; en) Presto/2.10.229 Version/11.60

Paths
Preferences /root/.opera/operaprefs.ini
Saved session /root/.opera/sessions/autopera.win
Bookmarks /root/.opera/bookmarks.adr
Opera directory /root/.opera
Cache /root/.opera/cache
Help documents /root/.opera/opcache
Mail directory /root/.opera/mail
Plug-in path /usr/lib/opera/plugins /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins
User CSS directory /root/.opera/styles/user

Third parties:
...

2. CHROMIUM-12.0 [Linux]

Chromium and Firefox present lists of links for various "about:about" options. One little thing that attracted my attention is that when you click on options such as  "about:flags" or type "about:flags" in the address bar, Chromium changes it to display "chrome://flags" etc. So, don't be alarmed to see this in the address bars of the four screenshots below. This happened only on Chromium and not on Firefox.

  • About:flags [Experiments such as for print preview and multiple profiles that can be enabled. Users are strictly warned to proceed at their own risk due to the experimental nature of these options].


  • About:memory [I found this to be very interesting. Displays memory allocated to every tab open. I was surprised to find that the summary on top displays memory used not just by the Chromium browser but also other currently-running browsers. [Opera and Firefox  you see that I had running].
 
  • About:plugins [Another location to enable/disable plugins other than from Wrench(Settings)->Preferences->Under the hood->Content settings->Plugins->Enable/disable individual plugins].


  • About:version [Remember to grab the command line equivalent of however you started Chromium from here for use in your shell scripts].

Some other options I found interesting that are not displayed with images as above:
  • About:view-http-cache [Displays cache contents]
  • About:credits [Displays webpage and licence links]
  • About:dns
  • About:histograms
  • About:net-internals

3. FIREFOX-13.0 [Linux]

Firefox 13.0 has the highest number of about:about options, a whopping 25! Chromium 12.0 has 18 clickable and 6 non-clickable options. [The non-clickable ones are for debugging only, you have to type them into the address bar every time].


  • About:addons [Configurable addons manager to download addons on demand. This panel also has tabs for extentions, themes and plugins].
  • About:cache [Displays disk and offline cache device locations and content].
  • About:config [Change internal defaults at your own risk. Click twice to change or rightclick for more options. Has so many obscure options that this could be the theme of a whole new article!].

  • About:home [Main dashboard. Start here].

  • About:permissions [Permissions manager for mozilla and all sites. Manage permissions for passwords, cookies, popups, share location and offline storage].




  • About:memory [You can view a neatly-presented memory allocation map for Firefox processes in a tree view].




Some other options not displayed with images as above:

About:plugins [Plugin-related information]
About:buildconfig [Machine/platform/tools builds and versions]

FINAL WORD

Browsers, there are a million but "About:about", there is only one. You don't have to be a digital ninja to try the experimental or debugging options of this command. Everyone can try "about:about" in every browser and start reaping the benefits of read-only and configurable browser parameters! Back to my search for something humorous about "about:blank". At this time, the only funny thing that comes to my mind is to say "He is the inventor of 'about:blank'" about every half-baked, pompous type around! If you find anything funnier, let me know at sqlhtm@sqlhtm.com.



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