Firefox 3.5 – likes and tweaks

Gotta say I’m loving Firefox 3.5 – it’s stable, fast, not IE(!) and simply works.

Here’s my top five favourite new features,

  1. Clickable links in view > page source (ctrl+u)
    This is great for anyone who frequently dives into a page’s code. Want to know how that site you’re viewing implemented it’s style sheet? No problem. View the page source, look for the style sheet link, click it and you’re viewing the CSS in source view. Nice.
  2. Tab tearing
    Previously I’ve used add-ons to enable something like this, but no more with tab tearing built-in. This feature lets you drag a tab out of your current window to have that tab spawn a new window. Great if you want to quickly refer to two open tabs/pages at once side by side.
  3. Smarter “AwesomeBar”
    Firefox’s already super useful location bar, aka the “AwesomeBar”, just got even more awesome. You can now search smarter via new operators. Use ^ to search only history, * to search your bookmarks only, and + to search your tags.
  4. Private Browsing
    Also dubbed “porn mode”, Private Browsing is just that – a mode you can enter which keeps your session private – meaning no data for the session will be cached or saved to disk (eg cookies, history, search, passwords). Great if you share a computer and want to do some secret shopping for your significant other… (or yourself!)
  5. Under-the-hood: Speed and Standards
    A new engine called Tracemonkey makes rendering Javascript faster and changes to database querying make for speedier access to your history and bookmarks. Other changes behind the scenes include more standards support including native audio and video as defined in the HTML5 spec. Anything that improves speed and standards support get a big thumbs up from me.

And the Mozilla Links blog details some more new features in their All about Firefox 3.5 post.

Of course Firefox isn’t perfect for my needs, but with my set of add-ons it almost is! Beyond those add-ons, read on for some other tweaks I make to fresh installs of Firefox…

Compress the window head content
I also make a couple of tweaks to the user interface to increase the size of my viewable webpage area or browser canvas (via the “customise” link when you right click the navigation toolbar or program menus). In particular, I check “use small icons”, move my “bookmarks toolbar items” up next to the program menus and then turn the “bookmarks toolbar” off. The results are thus,

Default UI,

Firefox 3.5 - default UI

My tweaked UI,

Firefox 3.5 - modified UI

and if we put them side-by-side you can immediately see the increase in canvas height,

Firefix 3.5 - side-by-side UI


Open search results in a new tab
This is the first change I always make in the “about:config” area of Firefox’s settings. One thing I don’t like is jumping to do a search (via the browser’s search box) only to have the results replace the page I was on. Thankfully that is easy to fix. Enter “about:config” in your address bar, mind the dragons(!) and set the following, = true

and all your searches will open in new tabs.

Use Google NZ for your searches
This is something I’ve detailed in the past, so won’t repeat here. However, if you make the changes in that post and it doesn’t work, try closing Firefox, delete the files “search.json” and “search.sqlite” from your profile folder, then restart Firefox. This should fix it and those files will be automatically replaced.

Get a “close button” (x) on the last tab
In Firefox 3.5 you no longer get a close tab button when you have just one tab open (eg if you closed all your other tabs). I prefer to have one and to get it back you’ll need to add some code to a specific file. First, find your profile folder, then add the following to the bottom of the “userChrome.css” file inside the “chrome” folder,

.tabbrowser-tabs[closebuttons=”alltabs”] > .tabbrowser-tab > .tab-close-button {
display: -moz-box !important;
.tabbrowser-tabs:not([closebuttons=”noclose”]):not([closebuttons=”closeatend”]) > .tabbrowser-tab[selected=”true”] > .tab-close-button {
display: -moz-box !important;

Note however, there’s a gotcha here – clicking that close button on the last tab will close the Firefox window completely, so lets fix that too…

Keep Firefox open when you close the last tab
If you make the above tweak you may want to make this change to the “about:config” settings area,

browser.tabs.closeWindowWithLastTab = false

Now you can close that last tab (resulting in a blank tab) and have the window stay open. These and a few other “tab tweaks” are available on the Mozilla links blog.

And that’s about it. As I mentioned above, I also install a bunch of add-ons and I run multiple profiles that have independent bookmarks and passwords for specific uses. (Note you can also have two different profiles running at the same time.)

Got a Firefox tip or tweak of your own. Let me know below!


About Chris
A self confessed geek, meteorologist (aka weather forecaster), father & proud kiwi mainlander living, working & playing in Wellington, New Zealand.

One Response to Firefox 3.5 – likes and tweaks

  1. Chris says:

    As an addition to this post, here’s another about:config tweak I’m trying out – from The Firefox Extension Guru’s Blog,

    Fix YouTube ‘Jumpiness’ In Firefox

    In short, YouTube jumpiness might be caused by Session Restore writes to you hard drive (useful in case of a browser crash to get back up and running). You can safely space out these writes by increasing the “browser.sessionstore.interval” which is in milliseconds. Eg to say 120000=2min and 300000=5min. Note of course, this might mean you don’t have a very recent session save if Firefox crashes.

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