I’ve been a Firefox user since pre-release versions and I’ve been exchanging use between Firefox and Opera later on until Opera sacked the old Presto engine based Opera (version 12.x). At that point, Firefox yet again remained my No.1 because with Opera shifting to Chrome foundations, it regressed functionally by 10 years basically. It hardly has any features and it’ll take years for it to get functionality we had in opera 12.x. I just can’t use such horribly crippled browser…
I’ve heard about many rather negative future changes planned for Firefox by Mozilla team and I hope my list will make them reconsider. It’s unlikely since I don’t have millions of readers, but hey, you never know. I’ve had various developers read and comment my stuff before so Mozilla team might surprise me… 🙂
I might have missed few things, but these are really one of the strongest points that make me love Firefox so much.
At the moment, Firefox is the ONLY browser that allows me to arrange ALL the buttons and major browser elements (URL bar, bookmarks bar etc), the way I like them. No the way others or developers like them. The way I like it. I can re-arrange the entire browser to my needs and usage. It used to be tiny bit better in the past where menu button could also be moved and same for backward/forward buttons, but It’s still bearable and forgivable. I really hope Firefox will keep this, because if I hate anything is current Opera and Chrome where I have to download bunch of stupid extensions just to move or change few stupid buttons. Opera used to be great but now it’s the same locked down crap as Chrome. Mozilla team, don’t ever go that way. Browser is here to serve MY needs, not the needs of how majority of users thinks I should use it. So, giving me full control over browser interface setup/arrangement, it becomes MY browser of choice.
Amazingly organized settings
Opera and Chrome are both this horrendous mess of settings cluttered in a continuous scrolling mess. Thanks to someone at Mozilla properly doing their job, settings are amazingly well organized into categories and also individual settings are really well organized and placed within individual categories. I haven’t once found myself digging through settings looking for something and failing to find it. It’s always where you expect settings to be. Where in Chrome and Opera I found myself often scrolling up and down looking for something and missing it because it’s all cluttered together. Good job Mozilla.
Synchronized integrated basic/simple RSS feed reader
People will always say: “But there are so many good feed readers!”. Sure there are. But all of them are annoying 3rd party apps that still don’t work the way I simply love Firefox’s live feeds work. Not only it’s already in the browser, I can instantly subscribe to feeds without the need to first download feed reader add-on and then also add-on that gives me a button to actually be able to subscribe to feeds while I’m browsing a specific news webpage. I can also nicely arrange them in subfolders which is a nice goodie. And lastly, Firefox live feeds are synchronized through my Firefox Sync account. Meaning I’ll always be subscribed to all my feeds in all my browsers across all my computers. Which is super useful and doesn’t require me to first login to 100 accounts for all the separate services before I can get bloody feeds in my browser. It’s amazing what kind of simple approach Mozilla used for integrated RSS feed reader and it’s working so amazingly well. Opera and Chrome have no such thing and everything I add using extensions is just one big horrible mess. Bah. I know it has few limitations like missing feeds if you don’t check them for several days and you have to manually browse through them as there are no notifications, but despite this, it’s so simply, easy to use and functional way to provide RSS feeds reading I don’t ever want to lose this function. Mozilla, don’t ever remove live RSS feeds!
Synchronized search engines
I’m shocked how Opera and Chrome still don’t have this. It’s absolutely idiotic not to provide such functionality. With Firefox I can create a search keyword to instantly access any search engine I want directly from URL bar and then have that synchronized across all my browsers and devices. Firefox simply stores keyword based search engines as bookmarks, meaning I can arrange them in folders and also synchronize them across browsers/devices along with bookmarks. This way I can always utilize my keyword searches no matter what device I’m using or on which i’ve created the keyword rule. I just type “g best browser” in the URL bar and that “g” keyword in the beginning sends a “best browser” term to a Google search engine, instantly providing me search results without having to click around into dedicated search forms and select what search engine I want to use. You already do that by using that tiny short keyword in front of a search term. I can also set “b” to be keyword for Bing and I’ll just type “b best browser” in URL bar and I’ll instantly get search results for “best browser” in Bing. Or the “d” keyword that I regularly use to quickly search for words on Dictionary.com. These keywords save me so much time it’s crazy. And I also look like a dork trying to use keywords in Internet Explorer/Edge on other systems, typing some “random” letters in front of stuff 😄 Yeah, it’s so useful you subconsciously want to use it everywhere.
High quality add-ons
I’ve recently seen news Mozilla is planning to ditch existing add-ons and replace them with Chrome extensions. Mozilla, for the love of god, DON’T do this. I don’t know how difficult XUL is to develop, but I do know the results because I’m add-ons junky. I love add-ons because they extend functionality beyond awesomeness already provided by the browser itself. Because Chrome extensions are all fat, bloated, buggy and low quality. They all feel like some absolute programming noob created them during programming lessons or something. Just look at countless GMail notifiers that all feel like shit in Chrome but are amazing in Firefox. Or Ghostery add-on that is found in both, Firefox and Chrome. In Firefox you have separate control for elements and cookies and you can also enable individual items as well as allow them just once within the webpage itself (enable on demand). No such thing in Chrome. If Chrome extensions are so god damn awesome, then why they can’t provide same functionality? Not to mention I can also move Firefox add-on buttons wherever I want them while Chrome and Opera add-on buttons are locked within dedicated interface space and that’s it. Absolutely pathetic. If Mozilla can deliver same level of integration and functionality while making extensions easier to develop, then by all means, go for it. But if you plan on using this garbage found in Chrome, then don’t even bother. I don’t want it.
Favorite “Starred” bookmarks and Unsorted Bookmarks
Another thing I love about Firefox bookmarks is how easy it is to bookmark stuff using that “star” button. One click on the star bookmarks the webpage under Unsorted Bookmarks. Which is ideal for quickly saving webpages that you need to “remember” but aren’t worthy enough to be permanently stored in a specific organized way. I often use this to quickly bookmark webpages that host solutions how to solve lets say program crashes. I bookmark them instantly, they are there and when I solve the problem, I just erase them. So it’s a very quick process which doesn’t waste any of my time. But if I want to permanently store some bookmark in a nicely organized way within my bookmarks structure (which has subfolders), I just have to click the “star” button again and Firefox will open up a bookmark organizer that allows me to store a bookmark in a more lengthy, but also more sophisticated way. Because you can also search through all bookmarks, finding stuff you “lost” within Unsorted Bookmarks is a very easy task.
I’ve touched this function in few points above and while it has been quite problematic in the past, it seems very reliable now and out of all browsers, it’s the only one that not only synchronizes bookmarks, tabs, passwords, add-ons, preferences and history, it also synchronizes things no other browser does. And this includes RSS feeds your subscribed to as well as search engines through keywords. Mozilla designed this through a clever system of storing those search engines/feed subscriptions as bookmarks, allowing them to easily be stored, organized and synced across devices. It’s brilliant and I absolutely love it because all my devices have same bookmarks and feeds and I can at any time back them up to prevent data loss. When your browser becomes a central point of your life and a database of countless useful bookmarks, links and news sources, losing them because you did something wrong (like formatting disk before backing all up correctly) is very devastating. But with such backup options and synchronization of browser data, I really don’t have to worry about it. I still remember how angry I was in the past when I lost browser data before browser syncing existed. It’s really hard for such thing to happen today.
Spellchecking and dictionary
If you’re not a native English speaker (yeah, English is not my native language), having good spellchecker is a must have. And one provided in Firefox is really good. It’s easily accessible in right click menu so you can enable or disable it quickly without going into any settings or settings popups. And with add-ons, browser can even detect what language you’re typing into a field and automatically switches the dictionary. I regularly use this between forums with my language and forums that use English. Or when I simply don’t care and don’t want browser to underline misspelled words. It’s all just a click away and it’s brilliant. Chrome and Opera has all of this so clumsy it drives me insane every time I have to use it.
Good general speed/performance
We all know how Google bragged about performance when they introduced Chrome. It was the fastest thing under sun in all benchmarks. But to me, it was just that. Really fast in benchmarks, but sluggish in most actual webpages. Things went especially bad once you started stacking extensions that involve webpage filtering like AdBlock or Ghostery. Chrome just sank into miserable slowness. Firefox on the other hand, it never absolutely dominated competition, but it was always well responsive browser with fast webpage rendering that didn’t really feel sluggish. Especially once you stack some add-ons. Thy don’ seem to affect Firefox much, unlike in Chrome.