Make Firefox 4+ Look Like FF 3.6
This article applies to Firefox versions 4-28.
Like millions of others, I updated my Firefox web browser from 3.6.16 to version 4.0 this week when Mozilla released the latest version. Mozilla recognizes Google’s Chrome browser as a worthy competitor in the browser wars and has decided to follow some of Google’s style. In this case, it’s hiding menus and toolbars in favor of more screen space, often called “screen real estate.”
The toolbars and menus got a completely new setup. The Status bar at the bottom was removed with an optional Add-on bar available to take its place. A mini Status bar now shows up temporarily as a page loads and disappears soon after. The Tabs menu found a new home above the Navigation bar. Other notable differences are the disappearance of the Reload and Stop button while the Home button moved to the right of the Address bar. Here’s a screenshot before any customizations:
I’m not a fan of Firefox’s new look. I honestly think there was enough screen real estate in the previous version, and I do not like minimizing or removing important functions. Moving the Tabs menu up doesn’t seem justified either. Our goal is to transform the new Firefox 4 to look like the old and add back functionality.
Add Menu Bar
The Menu bar is the first thing to replace and can be done two ways:
- Right-click a blank area next to the tabs and enable Menu bar
- Click the new, orange, Firefox drop-down-menu, navigate to Options, and enable the Menu bar
Move Tabs DownTOC
Return The Home, Reload, & Stop Buttons
These three buttons belong with the rest of the navigation buttons – to the left of the Address bar. In that same menu as used previously, open the Customize option. From here, you can drag the Reload and Stop button onto the Navigation bar to the right of the arrows, and then slide the Home button to the left of the Address bar.
Things aren’t perfect though. Instead of displaying both Reload and Stop, only one will display at a time depending on whether a page is loading or has completed. When customizing the toolbar, add a Flexible Space between Reload and Stop. Then both buttons will show at the same time.TOC
The default theme – also known as Strata – has also been changed. Instead of colorful icons for Back/Forward, Reload, Stop, and Home, they’re all charcoal colored, or whatever you set the Windows color to be. There is a theme (aka. Persona) available called Strata XP that will bring color back to the icons. The creator also linked to an article to hide the “Aero Glass” effect which I have yet to try.
Edit: A new theme called Firefox 3 theme for Firefox 4 was recently created that provides an even closer likeliness of the old Firefox.TOC
Back/Forward Drop-Down List
In the old version, there was an icon next to the Back/Forward buttons with a list of the previous sites you’ve visited during that tab session. I guess you can just right-click to see the list, but I kind of miss the little icon. There is an add-on available called Back/forward dropmarker which will replace the icon. Too many add-ons can slow down the browser, so it may be better just to forget it.TOC
As mentioned earlier, the Status bar is no longer a permanent fixture of the bottom of the browser. It will only popup when a page is loading, move to the left or right as it avoids your mouse, and it no longer displays a progress bar. Some add-ons did show icons there, but you will have to enable the Add-on Bar.
An add-on name Status-4-Evar was developed to return some lost features like status text, progress meter, and download status. I’m happy to have it.
Once installed, open up the add-on’s preferences and direct yourself to Progress > URL Bar. Un-check the box to “Show progress in the location bar.”TOC
Browse All Add-ons
The Add-ons menu got an adjustment as well. Instead of opening in a popup window, it now opens in a new tab. One thing I found missing was the “Browse All Add-ons” button that linked to the Add-ons for Firefox web page. It’s there, although a little hidden. On the Get-Addons tab, click the Learn More button under the “What are Add-ons?” header.
Display Protocol in Address Bar
This is a new addition to the article and comes courtesy of Milena, comment 380.
In order to always display the protocol, just as Firefox did before:
- 1.) Open up Firefox’s Configuration page by typing
about:configin the address bar. Read the prompt and click the button saying you’ll be careful. (See how to re-enable that warning prompt)
- 2.) Locate the preference browser.urlbar.trimURLs
- 3.) Simply double-click it to change the value from True to False
I guess I’m resistant to change, but some of the adjustments don’t make sense to me. I think they removed some functionality in their aim to be more Chrome-esq and save screen space. There is a reason Chrome sits idle as I surf in Firefox, and it isn’t just the add-ons I use.
If you’re considering going back to Firefox 3.6, you can still download it from Mozilla or get it from FileHippo.com. In order to properly downgrade, you will need to first uninstall Firefox 4. It will ask if you want to save your profile data like bookmarks and settings, so say yes.
There are a few bugs I’m dealing with, so it may be better to stick with FF 3.6.16 at least until the first bug fix update.
What is your take on the new Firefox? Do you prefer the new look, or do you have tips to help it look like its predecessor? I would like to hear from you.
Posted in: Web Browsers