Firefox 14 is released today – see my review of the new features and changes. However, one extra feature which hasn’t made it into the official list of changes is the new panel-based download interface.
Although this feature is included in Firefox 14, it is currently disabled and therefore is not officially supported – expect it to be enabled by default in a future version.
For those who can’t wait and want to give it a try, you can enable it right now. If you want to try it out:
- Open Firefox and type about:config in the address bar and press Enter. Click the “I’ll be careful I Promise” warning button to reveal a long list of preferences used in Firefox.
- Scroll down to (or search for) the preference named “browser.download.useToolkitUI” – the default Value is ‘true’ i.e. use the old Download window.
- Double click it to change the Value to ‘false’.
- Close the about:config tab – the new download interface is now enabled.
If you have any problems (bear in mind this is an unofficial feature) just revert back to the old Downloads window – follow the same process i.e. double click the preference again to turn it back to ‘true’.
New Download Interface – It is now panel-based – previously, the progress of downloads opened in a separate window.
When you begin a download, the Downloads icon appears at the end of the navigation bar and the panel shows the file download progress as in the example below:
The panel only shows downloads from the current session – to see a history of all downloads click ‘Show All Downloads’ to open up the Downloads Library window.
The new download interface displays the usual information about each download e.g. the file name, file size and time remaining before the download is complete.
You can still pause and resume or cancel and retry a download. However the new interface does not currently display a Pause/Resume button, only one to Cancel – nor is there a Clear List or Search button…
To apply other actions e.g. Cancel or Clear List you need to right click the downloading file and choose from a pop up menu as shown below:
This is a step backwards as it takes longer than the old version to choose from a popup menu – hopefully these features will be added before the new download interface is officially launched.
When a file has finished downloading, the usual confirmation message appears, the download interface panel automatically hides itself and the downloads icon turns green.
You can click the downloads icon to display the interface panel again or use the hotkey – press CTRL+j.
It is also possible to change the position of the downloads icon if you don’t want it at the end of the navigation bar:
- Right click an empty space in/above the navigation bar and choose ‘Customize’
- Drag the Downloads icon to wherever you want it to appear and press ‘Done’ when finished
The panel-based design is a forerunner of future user interface changes planned for Firefox – to make features and options appear within the current window, instead of opening new ones.
For example, Firefox Options are also scheduled to receive a tab based, rather than windowed, treatment in coming versions.
The new ‘unofficial’ download interface works well enough – the lack of buttons such as Pause/Resume and Clear List is a let down compared to the previous design (but might be added before launch).