On this constant march towards putting our heads into the clouds it’s all about being minimal these days or at least for the major browsers it is. The browser shouldn’t interfere with the experience they say. The WWW should look just like any old desktop/laptop/notebook type application they holler, so get that browser User Interface (UI for short) out of the way! This is the way things have been going as far as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Opera are concerned and now Firefox is no exception. Or at least it won’t be when Firefox 4 is finally released.
Now for some folks, especially the younger ones (meaning younger than myself at 51 and older), that all might be fine and dandy but for those of us who have been using browsers for the last 10 years or more, we may be a bit less willing to give up our comfortable old style of navigation we’ve been using for so long right off the bat. Perhaps we’ll need an adjustment period to “go minimal”, ease into it as it were. Unfortunately, for those that prefer to use Google Chrome or Internet Explorer 7, 8 or the upcoming IE 9.0 (gone drastically minimal), they’re stuck using what they give you. But not so Firefox 4 since Mozilla still seems to believe that giving their users the ability to customize their browser of choice any way they wish is a good thing instead of locking them into what they think is best.
So when Firefox 4 finally shows up at your virtual doorstep you might end up seeing something like this…
or even like this…
…especially for those that wish to start fresh and it might be a bit of a shock to those used to the much older, traditional style of browser navigation. Indeed, they won’t notice that the new version of their favorite browser is 3 to 4 times faster than their old one, oh no. The first thing they’ll notice is that they can’t find the Home button. Where did it go? Why is all the way to right? And what’s that button with the gray square and star on it? Where’s my menu? Yikes! Where’s my status bar gone to?!
Never fear, you can make Firefox 4 look pretty much like Firefox 3.6.* if you want to by right clicking on any blank space on the Tab bar and checking the “Menu bar” and “Add-on bar” (takes the place of the old “Status bar”) check boxes and un-checking “Tabs on top”.
Then, by clicking on “Customize” in the same right-click menu, you can then drag “Reload” button to it’s proper place next to the forward and back buttons and then drag the “Stop” button to the right of it if you want both the “Reload” and the “Stop” button to merge into a single “combo” button. If you want to the “Stop” and “Reload” buttons to remain separate then move the “Stop” button to the left of the “Reload” button and they’ll remain as separate buttons.
At this point you can drag the “Home” button to it’s rightful place next to the “Stop”/Reload” buttons instead of way over to the right and there you are, just the way you’re used to.
Now if you want the site loading status back on the left hand side of the Add-on bar and the site title back up in the Firefox’ “Title bar” you’ll need the Status 4 Evar (yup, it’s spelled that way) and Aero Window Title (only works when “Tabs on top” is unchecked as mentioned above) add-ons from Mozilla’s Add-ons site and things will be back the way you’re used to.
I’ve heard that if you simply update your current Firefox to Firefox 4 that your current UI setup should stay (almost) the same with the possible exception that you’ll have to enable the “Add-on bar” as described above if you want a replacement for the soon-to-be defunct status bar. But no matter what Firefox 4 brings to the table as far as the UI is concerned, relax—you can change it if you want to.