Integrate Firefox into Windows a little better

Mozilla Firefox is a far better browser for Windows than Internet Explorer could ever be. It is more secure, standards compliant and its functionality can be easily improved using Extensions. Unfortunately the default installation of Firefox uses a range of icons that are unfamiliar to average users which can lead to some confusion. Fortunately the Internet Explorer icon pack for Firefox corrects this problem by replacing the distinctive Firefox icons with the more run of the mill Microsoft Explorer versions. This extension doesn't add any functionality beyond this but it sure does help out users who don't care what browser they use as long as the visual experience (i.e. the icons on screen) look the same.

A clever site worth checking out

This site is very clever, it is called Microsoft Firefox and promotes/pulls fun out of Internet Explorer 7. It is all very professionally done with some very clever video, subtle jokes and links to other funny sites. No doubt the site will be taken down by Microsoft legal given its look and feel and abuse of the Microsoft copyright/trademark.

Two more great Firefox extensions

Firefox just keeps getting better and better with the help of the community and some very well designed extensions. My two favourites currently is the excellent download manager DownloadThemAll! and the tab navigation tool Tab Catalog.

DownloadThemAll not only provides much needed download management functionality missing in Firefox but also does an excellent job of speeding the task up through simultaneous segmented downloads. This process maximises bandwidth usage and provides a hefty speed increase over traditional single stream downloads.

Tab Catalog is a very handy tool for Tab-power users by providing a quick thumbnail overview of the tabs that are open. Compared to similar tools it doesn't suffer the variable speed or resource hungriness of alternatives and is ideal in situations where there are too many tabs and not enough time.

Firefox 2.0 killer feature: spell checking

Get Firefox!

I have been using Firefox 2.0rc3 for the last couple of days and I am very impressed with it. Not too much has changed from version 1.5, it is just cleaner and better crafted. Whilst not revolutionary it is certainly a very worthwhile upgrade for anyone who uses Firefox (especially if you are still on version 1.0). And for those of you still slogging away with Internet Explorer forget the upcoming version 7 and just make the switch to Firefox, you will not regret it.

The best new feature is the inline spelling checker. It spell checks any text input you type into forms and provides spelling suggestions in a user-friendly manner. What is even better is that new dictionaries such as Australian English can be loaded as Firefox Extensions. That means no more silly spelling mistakes when using online forums (resorting to Web-based spell checkers is just painful). Fingers crossed that in version 3.0 we may see a Word-like grammar checker although that maybe a little tough for a Web-browser.

Three very useful tools

Over the last couple of days I have come across three very useful tools:

Google Browser Sync
Just released it keeps all your Firefoxes in sync with each other. Great if you have more than one computer (or virtual computer). I have used other bookmark management tools in the past but as this is integrated right into Firefox, automatic and free it is hard to beat.

Widescreen view for provides a three panel view very similar to that of Outlook or Thunderbird. When you have a widescreen display it makes a lot of sense.

Keyword search, a nice Firefox touch

Mozilla have not exactly gone out of their way to promote this feature but it sure is useful. Keyword searching makes performing common searches on websites much faster by enabling you to create a 'keyword' that associates the search url to what you type in the address bar. It is not exactly the best description but it means that rather than visiting a site to perform a search (say for a recipe or book on amazon) you can assign a keyword like 'recipe' and then in the addressbar just type 'recipe roast duck' to have Firefox perform a search in your favourite recipe site.

Great tab exension for Firefox

Tab Mix Plus is a great extension for Firefox. One thing I do not like about a default Firefox install is the appearance and functionality of its tabs. Tab Mix Plus provides a stylish new tab button, close tab icons on each tabs and tab session saving functionality all in one small extension. Everything works smoothly and there are a tonne of configuration options for everything from keystrokes to mouse buttons. Overall probably the best extension to Firefox I have used so far, hopefully it gets folded into the main tree in the future.

Moved to Firefox from Safari

I have changed my default browser from Safari to Firefox 1.5. Although I have had both installed on my desktop for a very long time I have always used Safari over Firefox 1.0 as it was slightly faster on my PowerBook. With the release of Firefox 1.5 these speed issues have been solved and with the added functionality of the extension (and the obligatory weather plugin) Firefox 1.5 is a nice piece of software.

Nice speed tuner for Firefox

Forget the preferences hacks, the FasterFox extension for Firefox does all those nice little speed tweaks so that webpages load really fast. What's more just to prove that things are running faster there it has a little page load timer on the bottom of the Firefox window. Tweaking Firefox is simple with this extension, just go into your Preferences and in the FasterFox tab select the tuning setting you would like and the changes are made for you.

Portable Firefox on Windows & OSX

Portable Firefox is now compatible with Windows and OSX which means no matter whether you are using somebody's Windows or Mac machine Firefox (and all your preferences) are close at hand. Installation is easy and takes approximately 33meg of your USB key's storage space. I am presuming this value would actually grow over time as your preferences and browser cache grows with use.