How to change the layout of Firefox 4 to look more like Firefox 3. The newly released Firefox 4 has many security and performance improvements hidden ‘under the hood’ but the most obvious changes are in the layout of the menus and tabs – things that people using Firefox 3 had long since taken for granted.
Although some people will appreciate the new layout, you can easily change a few options to make it look more like version 3 without affecting performance or security. A new installation of Firefox 4 has several changes to the layout – we will review below how to change them to look more like Firefox 3:
Tab Positioning – Tabs now appear above the address bar instead of below it as in Firefox 3. If you want to change this back, just right click anywhere in the empty space above the address bar and click to untick ‘Tabs on Top’ – the tabs will now appear below the address bar.
Home Page Shortcut – The home page button (picture of a house) now appears on the right of the address bar instead of the left. To move it back to the left just right click anywhere in the empty space above the address bar and click on ‘Customize’ to open the Customize Toolbar window. Leaving that window open you can now simply drag and drop the house button to the left of the address bar. Click Done when you have finished.
Other Menu Items – If you open the Customize Toolbar again you can also drag and drop most other menu items to reposition them or add/remove menu items by dragging them to or from the toolbars e.g. if you want a Print button showing on the toolbar just drag the Print button from the Customize Toolbar to your preferred position on the menu bar. Click Done when you have finished.
Add-on Bar – Certain add-ons will now appear on a new Add-on Bar at the bottom of the screen. To hide or show this bar just right click anywhere in the empty space above the address bar and click Add-on Bar to toggle it on or off.
Create More Screen Space – Perhaps you have a netbook with a small screen or just want the most screen real estate possible to display web pages? If so, you may want to hide the Navigation Toolbar (including the address bar) and/or the Menu Bar – which will be replaced by an orange drop down menu in the top left corner of Firefox, freeing up more space.
To do this just right click anywhere in the empty space above the address bar and click on the Navigation Toolbar or Menu bar to switch each off/on. Both these options free up more space on screen but they remain hidden unless you switch them back on. A quicker alternative for occasional use is the traditional full screen view – just press F11 to view a webpage in full screen and F11 again when you want to return to a normal windowed screen.
Searches in the Address Bar – Firefox 3.6 used to perform Google searches in the address bar by name e.g. if you typed in New York Times and hit Enter, Google would try to find a specific website match – if it did then it took you straight to the New York Times website. This was great for quickly finding a website where you knew the company name but not the full web address (you didn’t have to remember that the New York Times site is actually nytimes.com)
However, now Firefox 4 just performs a standard Google search – unless you type an exact website URL a full list of search results will be displayed and you have to browse through and select the right one. Frankly I can’t understand why they have changed this – if you want to do a normal (full) Google search you can use the Search Box to the right of the address bar so why duplicate this and lose the quickness of a search by name?
Fortunately you can easily change Firefox 4 to search by name just like it used to:
Type about:config into the address bar and press Enter.
Click on ‘I’ll be careful, I promise’ when the warning appears.
A long list of preference names appears.
In the filter box type keyword.url
The list of preference names will be reduced to just keyword.url
Double-click on the keyword.url preference name and change its value (it may currently be blank) to the following: http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&q=
(Note: this is for google.com – you may want to change it to your own country version e.g. for UK just replace the google.com bit with google.co.uk)
Now click on OK, close the tab and restart Firefox – future searches for something like New York Times in the address bar should now take you straight to their website instead of displaying a list of Google search results :-)
Status Bar – One last change is that Firefox 4 has no status bar at the bottom of the screen which was used to show downloads in progress and web links you hover over. If you want it back you could install the Status-4-Evar add-on.