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Improve the Firefox user experience Web Browsers
Firefox is a fantastic browser, but it isn't always very Mac-like, as evidenced by the recent discussion on how to switch tabs. Here are a few tips to make things better:
  • Interface:
    The default theme for Firefox is a bit of a dog's ear, and the official Firefox Themes listings aren't much help either. Download something more Mac-like from Arronax's GrApple. If you want a brushed metal Safari look, then try Safarish. It would probably look even more authentic if you used Metallifizer to get the brushed metal window edges. To Aqua-fy the widgets (whilst you're waiting for the next version of Firefox, which promises an Aqua interface), install the Aqua Firefox Set.

  • RSS Reader:
    To get a Safari RSS-like browser before Tiger, install Sage and then, to get rid of the horrible PC look, download John Hicks' Sage CSS file. Save it wherever you like, and then in the Sage Settings, use the Sage CSS file as the custom style sheet.

  • Listening to Amazon Audio Samples:
    There's a bug in Firefox which means that it handles some files improperly, and deals with some files according to their extension rather than their MIME type. This rears its ugly head when trying to listen to audio samples on the Amazon website. Instead of passing the RealPlayer stub file to RealPlayer, it downloads it and names it hurl.exe. If you have Virtual PC installed, it (VPC) will then launch automatically and do nothing. All you have to do to listen to the files is change the name from hurl.exe to hurl.ram and then open the newly-named file.

  • Giving Yourself More Options With Downloads:
    I find that for some file types (eg: EXEs), Firefox will pop up a dialog box asking you what you want to do with the file. All the options are grayed out, except Save To Disk, but annoyingly it won't let you tick the box that says Do This Automatically From Now On. The solution to this is to install the MIME Type Editor extension, and then add the relevant MIME types using the Mimetypes command that will appear in the tools menu. You can find the correct MIME type for a given file extension here. Once you've added a MIME type, you can specify what Firefox should do with that sort of file. No more pointless dialog boxes!

  • Managing Bookmarks:
    Finally, did you know that there is a shortcut for deleting a bookmark in the manage bookmarks window? It's clearly listed in the Edit menu, but I never thought to look there because I know all the Edit menu shortcuts (hmmmm). The shortcut is the totally unintuitive Command-D. Thankfully, this is will be changed in the next version of Firefox, according to their bug list.
[robg adds: The pure extensibility of Firefox is one reason I really love the browser. There are some real gems hidden on the Firefox extensions page. DownloadStatusBar, WebDeveloper, and Flash Click to View are three of my favorites...]
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SpellCheck Extension
Authored by: mankoff on Jan 24, '05 11:42:18AM
Anyone posting on this site must use HTML text boxes... If so, you really want the SpellCheck extension: http://spellbound.sourceforge.net/

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Improve the Firefox user experience
Authored by: designr on Jan 24, '05 12:23:39PM

Maybe I'm an anarchist (or anachronism) but I've never cared for tabbed browsing. Otherwise, I love Firefox. As I understand it from speaking to users on other platforms, other versions of Firefox have the option to disable tabs entirely. But, it doesn't appear to be an option in the Mac OS X version.

Can anybody tell me how to turn off tabbed browsing? That means command-clicking on a link opens a new window.

Thanks, designr



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tabkiller?
Authored by: trollll on Jan 24, '05 02:40:49PM

might want to give the extension tabkiller (http://extensionroom.mozdev.org/list.php/Firefox/all#tabkiller) a try. i haven't used it (i love tabs), but it might just do the trick for you. it should completely disable tabbed browsing.



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tabkiller?
Authored by: designr on Jan 25, '05 01:37:08PM

Thanks for the tip. I tried tabKiller. I also tried QuickTabPrefToggle. In both cases, removing the ability to make tabs did not cause Firefox to default to making a new window.

It's not that I don't like tabs, sometimes I do. But, when I come to a page full of links (i.e., Macintouch), a quick command-click pops-up a new window. Then I can scroll-wheel up and down. When I'm done reading, a quick command-W closes the popped-up window and I'm instantly back to where I started. That's a lot easier than using the back-button or using tabs.

Near as I can tell, this functionality is in Firefox on other platforms but not in Firefox for OS X. This is something that may (hopefully) be added in a future version.



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tabkiller?
Authored by: trollll on Jan 25, '05 02:19:58PM

you might want to (carefully) poke around in about:config for something to tweak.

or just bypass that altogether and post something in mozillazine's forums. i pretty much stay in single-window mode and use tabs for exactly what you described, so i don't really know much about forcing new windows instead...



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I do the same thing, but with Safari and with tabs...
Authored by: allanBook on Jan 28, '05 11:59:29PM

Well, you could view pages in the same way using tabs.

If I have a page of links and I want to check a link out without losing my place on that page:

* I open the link up in a new tab
* read the new page
* afterwards, I close the tab and I'm right back at the original window (assuming there are no other tabs after the original page)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing your method at all. I am merely putting it out there for other users who may view this page that you can use tabbed browsing and read pages and the links they go to in a different (aka tabbed) way.

Cheers.

---
"Mr. Simpson, this is the most blatant case of fraudulent advertising since my suit against the film The NeverEnding Story." -Lionel Hutz (of Simpsons fame)



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tabkiller?
Authored by: David Allen on Jan 29, '05 01:52:19PM

designr,

I use my browser almost identically as you to surf. If you have a mousewheel, you have a two or three button mouse. I rightclick and choose open in a new window or tab. Works fine in FF 1.0.

David

---
David Austin Allen
Monterrey, NL, MX



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Improve the Firefox user experience
Authored by: taran on Jan 24, '05 03:06:34PM

Agreed. The number of preferences available for Firefox through the GUI is shameful when compared with the preferences available for the Mozilla-integrated browser.



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Improve the Firefox user experience
Authored by: Eravau on Jan 25, '05 04:34:49PM
Check out the Tabbrowser Preferences extension. It gives you more control over what opens in tabs and when.

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Firefox's non-Mac background shows
Authored by: Krioni on Jan 24, '05 02:21:53PM

I'm glad Firefox exists, and I use it now and then, but I find its lack of Mac OS X standard behavior annoying. Basic example: when in the URL field (or any field), pushing the up arrow does not move to the beginning of the line - it does nothing. This makes me crazy on Windows (when I have to use it) - I don't like having it happen on a Mac.

I'm cheering for Firefox, but I use (and paid for) OmniWeb. I spend a lot of time on the web - having a web browser that saves me time and makes me more productive is worth $30.



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Firefox's non-Mac background shows
Authored by: JimMueller on Jan 25, '05 04:40:54PM

The cripled text field navigation is the single thing that I despise about Firefox, and may be the one thing keeping my wife from moving to it from Mozilla - though Mozilla now appears to have picked up that afflictions too...



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Firefox's non-Mac background shows
Authored by: ModernEleatic on Nov 21, '05 06:31:26AM

Yeah, the lack of up-and-down-arrow support is also what annoys me most about Firefox. The other thing that gets on my nerves is clicking and dragging text; in OSX you have to click and pause over selected text, and then it drags a nice outline of what you selected. If you pause with FF, however, it'll deselect the text. Instead you have to drag selected text immediately. It's definitely hard to go back and forth. Still, nothing else seems to have Firefox's variety of extensions for things like adblocking, mouse gestures, and tab enhancements. I hope the Mac developers fix the interface issues though, unless someone knows of an extension or something that'd help?



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Check out extensionroom
Authored by: trollll on Jan 24, '05 02:48:05PM

http://extensionroom.mozdev.org/

it has a few overlapping with the official mozilla update link posted in the article, but it has a lot of others.

i like extensions... i usually have ten to fifteen of them installed, depending on whether i use it for personal stuff or for work. definitely a huge fan of nuke anything, web developer, sage, disable targets for downloads, undo close tab and add n edit cookies.



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Improve the Firefox user experience
Authored by: raider on Jan 24, '05 02:51:33PM
You can improve the user experience by using Camino. It is the Mozilla based (gecko) browser for the Mac.

The latest nightlies are VERY nice, and the new Bookmark/History manager introduced last week is fantastic. And there is also a G4 optimized build .

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Improve the Firefox user experience
Authored by: David Allen on Jan 29, '05 02:03:04PM

Forgive me, dumb question.

Does Camino allow all the same extensions available in FireFox? Or is it an extensionless, themeless experience?

---
David Austin Allen
Monterrey, NL, MX



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Improve the Firefox user experience
Authored by: dr_raoulduke on Jan 30, '05 07:46:35PM

It does not share the extensions of Firefox or Mozilla, but you can track down similar extensions and themes. Check out the forums at mozillazine.org for more info.

You will find that Camino fits somewhere between Safari and Firefox for a user experience. It feels much more like a native Mac app than FF, but is less integrated into the OS than Safari. I find it to be the fastest launching and rendering of the three, and therefore my prefered choice. But there are definitely areas of weakness compared to other browsers.



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Improve the Firefox user experience
Authored by: synecdoche on Jan 24, '05 05:40:55PM

Thanks!

There are a couple things I am still unsatisfied with on Firefox. One is the lack of support (as far as I can tell) for using a middle-click (in my case, a wheel-click) to open a link in a new tab. It works in Camino, but not Firefox, apparently (unless someone can prove me wrong! Please do!).

The other issue I have is with Firefox opening blank windows when trying to play certain video files. Your mime extension works beautifully-- I click on a wmv file, for example, and can make it open up in Media Player-- but it still opens up an additional window for the file for some reason.



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about:config does wonderful things
Authored by: trollll on Jan 24, '05 11:43:23PM
  1. type "about:config" into the url bar and hit return
  2. type "middle" into the filter field at the top (no need to hit return)
  3. double-click on the "browser.tabs.opentabfor.middleclick" to set to true
  4. :-)
not sure what to do about the targets for wmv's, though. not sure if the disable targets for downloads extension would cover that one.

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about:config does wonderful things
Authored by: synecdoche on Jan 25, '05 01:28:17AM

Thanks-- apparently it is enabled already. I wonder if OSX is simply not detecting my middle clicks. It is a scrollwheel mouse, and depressing the wheel should act as a third button, shouldn't it? Or do I have to do something to eanble this?

And the extension you mentioned worked a treat. Thanks.



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about:config does wonderful things
Authored by: darklighter on Jan 25, '05 04:55:32AM

While this may work on Windows and Linux versions of Firefox, this does nothing on the Mac version. As I understand it, this is because Firefox Mac uses an outdated mouse handler that only includes support for one button (a throwback to the OS 9 days?), as opposed to Panther's flawless support for every button on my MX 500 right out of the box. I know there's a bug report detailing this problem along with a proposed patch, but the patch has not yet been integrated into any binaries.

While I do like Firefox, until it properly supports OS X's built-in mouse driver's (supposedly it will in Mac 1.1, which will be equivalent to Windows/Linux 1.0), I won't be running it on a Mac. I eagerly await that day, but until then I'll be using Safari with Saft.



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Oh, you just had to make my day, didn't you?
Authored by: escoles on Jan 25, '05 09:36:02AM

At one level, I hate Firefox. I hate it because of what it's done to Mozilla, which is much more stable, uses no more RAM, and doesn't need extensions like TabBrowserPreferences or TabBrowserExtensions to actually let you load your tabs in the background or trap middle-clicks. On my Windows system, Firefox (1.0 final) crashes frequently and fails to exit properly about two times out of five. By version 1.4 (about two years ago, now), Mozilla crashed only under really unusual circumstances (like, on a WinME system that had been running for a week or so).

But I use Firefox, because there are tools I've gotten accustomed to using. Which is also the source of its problems, I think: Firefox is where the cool kids like to play, and the cool kids just aren't down with boring stuff like debugging and refinement. They'd rather climb mountains than till the soil, to put it in zen terms. So by using Firefox for the features, I'm tacitly contributing to the problem I decry...

Safari is nice and crisp, but I find it to be anemic in features by comparison with Mozilla and Firefox; and I'm frankly a bit disappointed in how it compares to Konqueror. OTOH, some of those high-end Konqueror-style features would probably be confusing to unsophisticated users. BTW, Firefox does support right-click -- just not middle-click. If it didn't support right-click, I'd be outta there so fast....

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Oh, you just had to make my day, didn't you?
Authored by: JimMueller on Jan 25, '05 04:42:22PM

I actually find the opposite to be true between Mozilla and Firefox.
My wife & I have identical PowerBooks. She used Mozilla (legacy bank compatability and inertia) and I've been using Firefox since it was Phoenix. At least once a night she curses Mozilla out, has to purge her cache and quit. I often have Firefox open for weeks with a half-dozen multi-tabbed windows and no problems.

I was never fond of Netscape Communicator's everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink school of feature design, and Mozilla simply carries that on. It was ages before I found the trick to make Mozilla open her default email application instead of trying to force her to use its own.



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about:config does wonderful things
Authored by: bradsmith74 on Jan 25, '05 10:24:19AM

Actually I believe this is enabled by default, however as darklighter suggests, this didn't work on my system. However using USBOverdirve (a great program) I'm able to set my "third button" to Command-Click, which then works.



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Mime type errors and your own server
Authored by: sr105 on Jan 25, '05 01:16:41PM

This won't help the majority of users, but I have my own person mp3 server that I use that suffers from the mime-type bug. Reading this post made me realize a fix on my server side. My server serves up an M3U playlist with the correct mime-type of "audio/x-mpegurl", but firefox incorrectly uses the webpage's extension of PHP from index.php.

note: every distribution installs apache differently so the following configuration settings could be any number of places. Just search through the config files. They should all be somewhere that you can find with some searching.

I changed the extension of the PHP script that serves up the music to M3U. Then, I commented out "audio/x-mpegurl m3u" out of Apache's mime-types and added it to the list of php extensions (look for "application/x-httpd-php .php" and add a new line with ".m3u"). Then, one last step: find the line that begins "DirectoryIndex" and make sure you put "index.m3u" or something similar in the list before index.php. Restart apache and now firefox will key off of the M3U extension.

The only downside to this is if you actually store M3U playlists on your server somewhere that are served up as text files. They will be processed as PHP files from now on. There are ways around this.

I know those instructions are brief, but hopefully it will give anyone in a similar situation a pointer in the right direction. If you need help, you can e-mail me.



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Qute
Authored by: jonahlee on Jan 26, '05 02:04:23PM

I still have to say I think Qute is the best Firefox theme, as it was when it originally came out. Qute looks and works great, and is vastly better than Safari. Check out Quadrone's Catch http://www.quadrone.org/graphics/

---
- Jonah Lee



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Sage CSS Link?
Authored by: googoo on Jan 26, '05 02:04:55PM

The link to the Mac-like Sage CSS file appears to be broken. Does anyone know where I can find it?

-Mark



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Sage CSS Link?
Authored by: googoo on Jan 26, '05 04:26:36PM
I found a nice Sage CSS at http://log.antiflux.org/bforsyth/ (search on the page for "Sage").

-Mark

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Problem with Sage and some themes
Authored by: googoo on Jan 26, '05 03:25:06PM

Beware. I installed Safarish and the Aqua Firefox Set, and the Sage buttons became useless. I was forced to revert to the default theme! I wonder if there is a Sage-friendly fix?

-Mark



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Problem with Sage and some themes
Authored by: hiroki on Jan 27, '05 01:13:16AM

I can use Sage with Safarish and the Aqua Firefox Set. Which buttons became useless? It seems that Aqua Firefox Set doesn't affect Sage, Safarish changes just appearance of buttons on Sage. One minor problem is that Safarish buttons are not tranparent perfectly.



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Problem with Sage and some themes
Authored by: googoo on Jan 27, '05 10:02:10AM
I lost the Options pulldown at the top of the Sage sidebar (it just was not there anymore). Also, the buttons on the Feed Item List Toolbar changed in a very strange way. Check out this screen shot. Everything returned to normal when I switched to the default theme. While using the Safarish theme, I also lost the live bookmark icon next to the live bookmarks that were not in my Sage feeds folder. Any clues to what happened?

-Mark

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Problem with Sage and some themes
Authored by: hiroki on Jan 31, '05 12:08:50AM
Your Sage is the latest one? I have no problem on my Firefox. See this screen shot.

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Improve the Firefox user experience
Authored by: ericsully on Jun 07, '10 09:47:26AM

Network World posted an article about a free monitoring tool http://www.real-user-monitoring.com



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