Firefox 3 is here! While there’s a lot to like about the new Firefox, there’s plenty of things to dislike, too. This is a quick run down of the things that bother me the most, and how to fix them.
Bookmark Search Doesn’t Tell You Where it Found Your Bookmarks
The new bookmark engine in Firefox makes searching for bookmarks very fast. However, often when I’;m searching for a specific bookmark, I’m also interested in what folder the bookmark is in. There doesn’t seem to be any way to find this out in Firefox.
The Show Parent Folder extension comes to the rescue. Install the extension, restart Firefox, then go to the Library (bookmarks) window, click the “Views” button at the top of the page, then under “Show Columns” pick “Parent Folder”.
The related Go Parent Folder extension is also handy, allowing you to right click any bookmark and go to the folder in which the bookmark is contained.
If you try surfing to a page that has an expired SSL certificate, or a certificate that Firefox doesn’t like for some other reason, then Firefox will give you an error page notifying you of this fact. You can add a “security exception” to allow use of the SSL certificate, but this process has been made quite tedious in Firefox 3. Presumably this has been done to ensure that novice users, used to clicking “OK” on every dialog that pops up in front of them, will realize that they’re doing something dangerous. Or perhaps novice users are just supposed to get confused and give up.
If you’re a developer, though, you might frequently access pages with invalid certificates, in which case this will quickly drive you crazy. While you can’t get rid of this process entirely, you can shorten it by two mouse clicks:
- Open up a Firefox window.
- In the address bar, type “about:config” and hit enter. This is the super-secret preferences screen, where you can heavily alter the behavior of Firefox. You can type in a parameter name in the “Filter” bar at the top to show only the preferences you’re interested in. The Filter bar will filter on both preference names and on values. You can change any value by double-clicking on it.
- Find the preference “browser.xul.error_pages.expert_bad_cert” and set it to “true”. This will make it so the error page has the “Add Exception…” button on it immediately, removing one mouse click.
- Find the preference “browser.ssl_override_behavior” and set it to “2″. This will make it so Firefox will get the certificate from the server without you having to click on “Get Certificate”.
Proxies with Passwords
The new “Do you want Firefox to remember this password?” dialog bar at the top of the page is nice. It can be ignored if you don’t care about it, unlike a popup dialog box. If you’re using an authenticating proxy, however, you get the same dialog bar at the top you get for other passwords. So you can say “Never for this Site”. Wait a minute… What site? Is Firefox going to store my proxy password once for every website I visit?
It turns out the “site” in question is “moz-proxy://proxyserver”, at which point this dialog almost makes sense.
Firefox has always been a bit weak at browsing over an authenticating proxy. In Firefox 2, let’s suppose you had three windows open, and each window had five tabs. If you restarted Firefox and let it save your sessions, then when Firefox came back up you’d be presented with a total of 15 username/password windows for the proxy server. This hasn’t been fixed in Firefox 3.
The Add New Bookmark Dialog
The first time I tried to add a new bookmark, I thought it was strange that I couldn’t move the new “Add New Bookmark” dialog. The second time, I tried to re-size it vertically so I could see more than 8 folders at a time - no resizing allowed.
A quick glance through bugzilla shows that there were a lot of problems with the new “dialog” and screen readers and accessibility software. The new add bookmark dialog must be one of those new “remove a bunch of functionality and make software behave unlike any other existing software in an effort to confuse our users” features.
There’s an add-on called OpenBook which will make the dialog resizeable (the add-on adds a “+” icon in the bottom left corner of the pane, which you can click and drag to resize the pane).
The Awesome Bar
The “Awesome Bar” is the nickname given to the URL bar at the top of the browser, because of the fancy new auto-completion which uses you bookmarks and history. This is a nice feature, but the auto-complete on the Awesome Bar behaves differently than the auto-complete on form fields.
If you type “he” into a form input box, it might show up “hero” and “healer” in the drop-down, and if you hit down a couple of times, you can select one with “enter”. But if you decide “No, I was thinking of “hernia”, you can click back in the input box and keep typing. Not so the “awesome bar” (although you can hit “up” a few times to get back to what you were typing, or hit “Esc”).