Do you need to download Firefox 4?
If you rely on a bunch of add-ons and plug-ins that will lose functionality…then NO.
If you want unparalleled organization and customization…then YES.
I am in love with Firefox 4. I was surprised. I was ready to hate it. I am usually skeptical about new versions of things as they often hinder a lot of my usability (like the find function in Word 2010 that I can’t turn off). I was also ready to dislike Version 4 because I knew that most of my plug-ins and add-ons would stop working. But honestly, it is amazing. The ability to organize and customize the interface totally changed my negative bias. Here are a few of the new features I noticed browsing around today.
When it comes down to it my favorite function is the Tab panorama. This function allows you to group sets of tabs together and hide them so they are not taking up space in your tab bar. Creating groups of tabs is pretty easy. It’s more or less the same principle as making groups of apps on an iPhone. Once you open the panorama view, just drag a tab off the main group, and then drag another one on top of it. From there you can choose what groups of tabs to look at. I work with a number of different subjects every day and this lets me keep my research for each one completely separate without cluttering up my tab bar or my computer’s taskbar. You can re-size, rename, collapse and do pretty much anything you can think of to keep your open tabs organized.
Interface – Getting Out Of Your Way
Mozilla has shown that screen real-estate is important, and that many of the regular functions they used to think we wanted immediate access to, such as the file menu, was actually clutter. Taking a clue from Chrome, Firefox 4 collapses all the menu options down to a single Firefox drop down button (Windows + Linux). They have also moved the tabs up to the top of the browser, which was previously only used to display the title tag of a web page. You can choose to turn this feature off, but why would you. It gets your tabs out-of-the-way, letting you see more on your screen, particularly great for netbook and 13 inch laptop users.
App Tabs – Pin Your Favorite Pages
If you have any websites that you open constantly, an RSS reader or Facebook, you can pin that page to the tab bar as a favicon which appears between the Firefox button and your tabs. With this feature you can easily jump at any time to your favorite pages, without having to type anything. Of course, you can just leave all those sites open in a Panorama tab group and accomplish the same thing. But it is still a useful feature for those less enamored of the tab groups.
Personas – Some Days Feel More Colorful
For those of us that stare at web browsers pretty much all day at work, having the option to change it up every once and awhile is a relief. Firefox lets you load different browser themes through the add-on manager. These Personas, as they are called, add a little bit of color. They also work a lot like themes in Chrome, only a little easier to browse and load. The add-ons page says it currently has over 30,000 designs from which to choose. I was happy after I found five that corresponded with my computer’s desktop.
In Sync – Take Your Browser Settings To-Go
Firefox 4 comes with the ability to synchronize your history, passwords, bookmarks and open tabs across all your devices. To do this, however you need to set up a Firefox Sync account. You can do this in the main menu; it’s pretty quick to set up. You have to supply an email, password, and fill in a captcha code. Any information that is uploaded is encrypted first, and during the set up process you get an encryption key. After you have set your browser up with a sync account you can add other browsers, on your phone or another laptop by entering in a onetime sync code. Once entered, all your bookmarks, preferences and even tabs are shared between all your sync enabled browsers.