Enable Chrome’s Best Features in Firefox

Enable Chrome’s Best Features in Firefox

The internet is atwitter with Google Chrome’s innovative new features, but there was no clear winner in our speed test comparing Firefox and Chrome—which means your choice of browser may depend solely on features. Apart from a few specific issues (namely process management), many of Chrome’s best features are already available in Firefox 3, proving yet again the power of extensibility. From incognito browsing and the streamlined download manager to URL highlighting and improved search, let’s take a look at how you can bring some of Google Chrome’s best features to Firefox.

Stealther Turns On Incognito Browsing

Chrome’s Incognito browsing allows you to shop for your significant other look at porn without keeping any history of that browsing session anywhere on your computer. In Firefox, the Stealther extension does the same thing. The main difference: In Chrome, a single window can enter Incognito mode, whereas in Firefox it’s enabled globally (this is probably possible in Chrome because of how it manages each tab as a separate process). But let’s be honest, are your multi-tasking skills really that good? (Original post)

Download Statusbar Puts Downloads in Your Status Bar (Surprise!)

Chrome is all about saving space, so files you download don’t break out into a separate window. Instead, they live in your status bar. Not bad, but guess what: The Download Statusbar Firefox extension has been doing this for five years, and it offers lots of additional options and wastes even less screen real estate. (Original post)

Speed Dial and Auto Dial Power Up Your Empty Tabs

Chrome’s empty tab page—which displays your most visited sites, most used search boxes, and even your recently closed tabs—is awesome. There isn’t currently anything quite as full featured for Firefox, however there are a couple of options that are very close. The Speed Dial extension (which itself is a ripoff of the Speed Dial feature in Opera) provides a very similar thumbnail-based new tab page, but you decide which sites you want in your speed dial and you can quickly access any of them from your keyboard with shortcuts. (Original post)

Locationbar2 Adds Domain-Highlighting to the Address Bar

Google Chrome’s “omni bar” sports root domain highlighting, a cool feature that doubles as a nice anti-phishing device (if you see the root domain more easily, you are less likely to give your information to an imposter domain). That sort of domain highlighting isn’t new by any means, though; the Locationbar2 Firefox extension has been boasting this same highlighting—in addition to several other excellent features—for well over a year.

Prism Extension Turns Any Site into a Separate Application

If you want to break out a webapp you use all day long into a separate window and desktop shortcut, Chrome makes it easy on you. Just click x and do y. The concept of separating webapps into their own application isn’t new by any means, though. At Mozilla, they’ve been cooking up Prism to do just that for quite some time. With Prism and the Prism for Firefox extension installed, just go to Tools -> Convert Website to Application to do break an webapp into a separate window and application. Right now this extension is Windows only, but hey—so is Chrome.

Keyword Search Bookmarks Integrate Site-Specific Search with the Address Bar

Chrome boasts that after using a site’s search engine once, you can perform that same search from the address bar next time. For example, after you search Amazon once, the next time you may just be able to go to your address bar, type ‘a’, press Tab, and then perform your search. That’s pretty saucy, but it’s also not much of an innovation over keyword searches in Firefox. Granted, you have to manually add a search box (here are 15 of our favourite Firefox quick searches), but you can also define exactly what you want that shortcut to be. Chrome also doesn’t currently support keyword bookmarking in general, which is one of the most time-saving features in Firefox.

On the other hand, previously mentioned Auto Dial automatically populates the new tab page with your most frequently visited sites. It’s not as attractive as Speed Dial or Chrome’s new tab page, though. Either way, give Firefox extension developers some time. We’ll have an even better alternative before you know it.

Got a Firefox extension or feature you use that gives you the same goods as Chrome? Let’s hear about it in the comments.


  • Nice article. I am pleased that you did not try to suggest that therefore Chrome will not be worthwhile. In fact, due to its differences beneath the interface, especially in having a separate process for each task, I think it will end up being significantly better. Using multiple tabs in Chrome is technically somewhat similar to running Firefox in separate virtual machines, and using just one tab in each Firefox copy. Firefox has been a great product, and I guess will continue for a while. However, IMO, the same people who have moved to it are likely to move again to Chrome as its fundamental superiority become evident. At present the visible features you quote will probably tend delay this only temporarily.

    Eventually if and when it becomes clear to developers that they can produce better extensions under Chrome that will not be effected by others’ rogue plugins – and of course its always the other develoepr’s fault 😉 – then those developers will jump onto Chrome.

  • Now that I have read the other comments here, I should add, that irrespective of my earlier comment, it is highly unlikely that I would switch to Chrome until it has an equivalent of Adblock Plus. I have browsed for years now with NO crap on my screen. Its like free to air TV, and lately cable TV too here in Australia: I simply watch NO free to air EVER because it has far too many ads, and almost no cable because it has ads, though at least a lot less. If I cannot keep ads off my internet screen, I shall throw the whole computer away and go buy a horse.

  • I’ll stick with Firefox+AdBlockPlus+NoScript+Prism until similar capabilities are added to Chrome. I suppose I could use Privoxy to replace AdBlockPlus, but manually maintained blocklists are a pain.

  • Yeah I love it… the only downfall I have had so far is viewing photos on Facebook.. There is some sort of glitch as when you want to view the next pic in a album gallery. It will show u the next pic 4 about half a second then go back to the old pic…

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!