You’ve probably heard a lot about Firefox 4’s new interface, speed and feature improvements, but many of you have already left it for Chrome. Here’s why Firefox’s newest version is worth another look, even if you’re a diehard Chrome user.
I’ve never been much of a Firefox user myself. I switched between browsers a lot until Chrome came out, after which I used it almost exclusively. It was fast, extensible, available on all platforms, and the more it gained in popularity, the better it became. Sure, it had its quirks, but it was the best I could get at the time. Firefox’s slowness really turned me off, so I never really gave it a chance.
With everyone talking about how great Firefox 4 is, though, I decided to try it out. Chrome was starting to irk me in small ways and if Firefox could hold up on its promise of higher speed, it could actually sway me away from Chrome. A few days after switching, I fell in love and haven’t looked back. If you haven’t looked at Firefox in awhile (or never really used it in the past), here’s why you might want to give it another shot.
It’s Pretty Darn Fast
This was the big one. Firefox’s sluggishness was the main thing keeping me away before, but now that Firefox has added some serious speed increases to its browser, it’s not nearly as painful as it used to be. In fact, it’s not painful at all. It might not be quite as fast as Chrome sometimes, but it’s pretty comparable, putting the two on a more level playing field and making Firefox’s other advantages much more worth switching for.
A Minimal, Fully Customisable Interface
Firefox 4’s new interface adds some nice improvements, like tabs on top, the Firefox menu, and the removal of the status bar. They’ve also gotten rid of or moved some of the more clutter-inducing navigation buttons, like the reload button, which is a welcome change.
The changes weren’t perfectly executed, of course—the Firefox menu isn’t in a great spot, and tabs on top doesn’t actually save you any vertical pixels. However, Firefox’s UI is so customisable that it doesn’t really matter. We’ve already shown you how to move the Firefox menu to a more appropriate location, and use the extra space more efficiently for a Chrome-like tabs-on-top setup.
Don’t forget about the Stylish add-on, either, which lets you tweak not just Firefox’s interface, but the interface of nearly any web site you want, which can be extremely handy.
You Can Actually Sync Custom Search Engines
They’ve become such an integral part of my browsing that it’s infuriating that I can’t sync them between Chrome installations—as soon as I pick up one of my other computers or boot into one of my other partitions, I have to create them all over again. Since Firefox actually integrates these into your bookmarks, they sync right along with your bookmarks, whether you’re using Firefox Sync or something like Xmarks. It’s a feature that Chrome is severely lacking, and that Firefox has had all along.
None of this is to say that Firefox is perfect, of course. It doesn’t have quite the “smoothness” that Chrome does, and if you leave it open for more than a day, it’ll steal more of your memory than a bottle of José Cuervo, but overall Firefox’s stability and customisability have won me over. If you’ve given Firefox 4 a try and have any thoughts on the matter—whether you agree or disagree—be sure to share them in the comments below.