The Adventures of Systems Boy!

Confessions of a Mac SysAdmin...

Firefox Rocks!

Holy Sweet Bejeezus!

In my recent browser review, I gave the latest Firefox release (which has since gone to 1.5b2) the praise it deserves. It's really gotten quite nice. It's speedy, it looks great, and -- it's main selling point -- it does everything you could ever want a browser to do. My one real complaint was the key-commands, particularly for switching between tabs. It seemed to have reverted to an earlier version -- "control-page up" -- which is both a clumsy two-handed key-command, and which requires a whole different set of keystrokes on a Powerbook, and so is quite worthless as a key-command, which is supposed to be easy to use and to remember.

After the review, a reader, pablo7, suggested I investigate extensions for Firefox, particularly one called keyconfig, which is meant to allow user control over key-commands. Well, I appreciate the tip, and I finally got around to looking at keyconfig, and, unfortunately, it would not install because of a "download error." Still, this spurred me on to investigate the matter further, and I ended up checking the "Firefox Help" pages from the application's Help menu (which, by the way, look great, and are actually, as we'll see, quite helpful indeed). Lo and behold, not only are there additional key-commands for tab switching, there's actually a quite sensible one: "command-option-arrow." Same as Camino.

Firefox's Help Menu Actually Helpful
(click for larger view)

I'm actually almost positive I tried this combo before writing my review (though maybe I didn't), so it may be new to version 1.5b2. But it may also ultimately be the straw that breaks the camel's back in this case. I've been increasingly fed up with Safari, and increasingly pleased with Firefox . And this beta's been rock-solid in my tests, and much more useful when logging on to web-based accounts. I even keep finding other great features: arrange-able tabs, the ability to bookmark tab groups, very configurable popup blocking, and it will even import Safari's bookmarks, cookies, history and preferences. Oh, baby! That's what I like.

So, I'll say again: Holy Sweet Bajeezus! I may be switching to Firefox. Like, soon.

Safari, this is your last warning.

Here's the best Safari-like theme I've seen for Firefox, and it works in the latest beta.

Also, a decent read on some of the cool things you can do with Firefox. Though it pertains to the non-beta version (and redundantly mentions tabs first off, as if other browsers lack this feature, or like any Mac user is still using IE), much of this will work in the beta, or will work when v.1.5 comes out of beta. And really, it's just an overview. This is the most freely configurable browser out there.


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7:13 PM

Tabs can be accessed by hitting apple (1 2 3 4 ...). To speed up Firefox, get the FasterFox extension. Also SpellBound is available if you need spell check. Extensions make Firefox Rock!    

9:15 PM


Thanks. I'll have to try SpellBound. Sounds cool.

Yeah, I agree that extensions make Firefox rock, but part of this is because Firefox, even without extensions, has really started to rock on its own. Adding extensions is great because you can customize it to behave exatly as you want, and, obviously, extend the features of an already fine and full-featured application.

It's pretty amazing to see how far Firefox has come in so short a time. And it's pretty amazing to me that, after being a Safari loyalist for years now, I'm about ready to drop it for a browser that's still in beta. I sort of feel like Safari's getting stagnant at the feature level, yet somehow buggier. It's kind of sad. But Firefox gets better at every level on a regular basis.

I also think Firefox (on the Mac) has gotten more and more Mac-friendly. I think a lot of people stick with Safari because it's somehow more Mac-like (that was part of my reasoning), but Firefox gets closer at each update. Recent builds look very clean, and the latest beta behaves -- in terms of key-commands and mouse shortcuts -- very similarly, and at times better than Safari (mouse-wheel-click a tab to close it... Sweet!). And now, with the ability to import virtually all your Safari data, there's no reason not to switch.

Anyway, I could go on forever about Firefox. I'm thoroughly impressed with this new beta, and have little bad to say about it. Everyone should try it. Anyone who's more than just a casual user will probably really like it.


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