Maximise Firefox 3.5's Viewing Area For Your Netbook

Your netbook's screen is tiny and processor less than mighty, so you want to maximise the web page viewing area without any performance-killing Firefox extensions. Here's how to consolidate Firefox 3.5's chrome for your Windows or Linux-based netbook.

Don't have a netbook? The tricks below still apply if you simply want to consolidate Firefox 3.5's chrome on your regular PC.

(This whole Firefox consolidation undertaking sound familiar? For longtime readers, it should be. Way before netbooks got hot, we consolidated Firefox 2 back in 2006, and then Firefox 3 with the help of Stylish in 2008. This version addresses a few Firefox 3.5-specific items and clears out the clutter sans add-ons.)

Here's what Firefox 3.5 looks like by default (on my Eee PC running Windows XP). Click to view actual size.

There's quite a bit of whitespace on Firefox's chrome just asking to get utilised more efficiently. You can trim the highlighted areas in the image below from Firefox 3.5's interface:

After a little toolbar rearrangement and interface decluttering, here's what consolidated Firefox 3.5 looks like. You can see that an extra Lifehacker post fits into the viewport after the consolidation. Click to view actual size.

Here's how to maximise your web page viewing area and declutter Firefox's chrome.

Relocate the navigation toolbar, buttons, and search box to the menu bar. To get this done, right-click on Firefox 3.5's toolbar and choose Customize. From there, drag and drop elements on the lower toolbars to the menu bar, and check off "Use small icons". (That will flatten the fat "keyhole" back button.) Hit play for a 30-second demonstration of the process (featuring old-school Lifehacker design).

Trim unnecessary interface doodads with userChrome.css. Just like you can style web pages with CSS, you can also style Firefox's chrome. In order to modify certain aspects of Firefox's chrome without using an add-on like Stylish, you edit a file called userChrome.css, which is stored in your Firefox profile directory. This file is user-specific and you can easily copy it from one Firefox installation to another. Here's where Windows and Linux netbook users can find userChrome.css.

Windows XP C:Documents and Settings[User Name] Application DataMozillaFirefoxProfilesxxxxxxxx.defaultchrome where xxxxxxxx is a random string of 8 characters.

Linux ~/.mozilla/firefox/xxxxxxxx.default/chrome/

With Firefox closed, open the userChrome.css file and append whatever CSS bits listed in this article you want to apply. If a userChrome.css file doesn't exist, save userChrome-example.css as userChrome.css.

Got your userChrome.css file open and ready for modifications? Let's declutter.

Remove Firefox 3.5's new tab button. Tab bar space is at a premium on your netbook, and you already use the Ctrl+T keyboard shortcut to open a new tab—so you don't need the new (and kind of annoying) Firefox 3.5 new tab button. Add this bit to userChrome.css to kill that button and make room for more open tabs.

/* remove new tab button next to last tab */ .tabs-newtab-button {display: none !important}

Remove the search box's magnifying glass. You can just hit the Enter key to execute a search from Firefox's search box, so the magnifying glass "go" button is just unnecessary eye candy. With your address bar up on the same level as the menus, you want as much horizontal space for typing search terms and web site addresses, so it makes sense to kill the magnifying glass. Here's the userChrome.css bit that will do just that.

/* remove magnifying glass from search box */ .search-go-button { display: none !important}

Remove and combine disabled buttons. When there's no page to go back to or forward to, nothing loading to stop or nothing loaded to refresh, all those buttons—back, forward, stop and reload—just sit there, greyed out, doing nothing but taking up space. You want as much horizontal space as possible, so you can hide disabled (useless) back and forward buttons, and even combine the stop and reload button to make a dual-use single button. Here's the userChrome.css code that will do just that.

/* combine stop and reload buttons */ #stop-button[disabled]{ display: none } #stop-button:not([disabled] ) + #reload-button { display: none }

/* don't show back or forward buttons if there's nothing to go back or forward to */ #back-button[disabled="true"]{ display: none } #forward-button[disabled="true"]{ display: none }

Optional: Hide bookmarks bar. A lot of my web work depends on easily-accessible bookmarklets, so I did not hide my bookmarks bar, but others who don't feel the same can gain more vertical space by doing just that. From the View menu, Toolbars, uncheck "Bookmarks Toolbar."

All the CSS in one shot To get all these changes in one fell copy-and-paste swoop, grab them from here and drop them into your userChrome.css, and restart Firefox.

/* remove new tab button next to last tab */ .tabs-newtab-button {display: none !important}

/* remove magnifying glass from search box */ .search-go-button { display: none !important}

/* combine stop and reload buttons */ #stop-button[disabled]{ display: none } #stop-button:not([disabled] ) + #reload-button { display: none }

/* don't show back or forward buttons if there's nothing to go back or forward to */ #back-button[disabled="true"]{ display: none } #forward-button[disabled="true"]{ display: none }

How do you customise Firefox—or any other app, for that matter—on your netbook? Let this newbie netbooker know in the comments. (For more userChrome.css fun, see our list of functional Firefox user styles.)

Gina Trapani, Lifehacker's founding editor, likes her Firefox pared down on her netbook. Her feature Smarterware appears every week on Lifehacker.


    The older add-on "fullerscreen" ( used to handle maximizing browser real-estate on the screen if it was an issue. It still works with a few presentational issues. It needs overriding of the release compatibility to work. If this was brought up to date (by the author, it would have a very dominant position in the netbook arena. I have not searched for another add-on to do a similar job.

    Why not remove the search box entirely, in favour of keyword bookmarks? Also, while this does violate the 'no add-ons' principle, I've used Menu Editor to eliminate the View, History (Ctrl+Shift+H) and Bookmarks (Ctrl+Shift+B, and others) menus.

    Why not just push f11 and be done with it. You get 100% of the screen real estate than.

    A great option is to use the Hide Menubar plugin (which has been featured on Lifehacker before:

    I then place my bookmarks toolbar along side the main menu, which gets hidden too.

    I use "Classic compact" theme and classic compact plugin .
    and using the above ...I don't think you'll get much more realestate without f11

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