Web Browser -- Mozilla Firefox (version 1.0.7)
Mozilla Firefox Screen Shot (click on the image to enlarge)
The Mozilla Foundation is certainly gaining popularity with their Firefox web browser. Millions of people have downloaded it and for good reason. It has more features than Internet Explorer. My review identifies the main features that Firefox has but Internet Explorer does not.
Mozilla Firefox opens web pages so much faster than Internet Explorer that it is worth installing for that reason alone. I have read that the Opera web browser loads pages faster than Firefox but to my thinking not noticeably faster. Firefox has other features that I like better than Opera (Opera has recently removed the forced advertisement in their freeware version).
After you install Firefox, you will probably want to add the bookmarks and print buttons. You can customize the toolbar by right clicking on the toolbar and selecting “Customize…” Then, drag and drop the “Bookmarks” and “Print” buttons to the toolbar. Bookmarks are the same thing as “Favorites” in Internet Explorer. There is another option on the customize window where you can select “Icons and Text” instead of just icons which I personally prefer. After I added the “Bookmarks” button to my computer, I was really pleased when I clicked on it. Not only did my bookmarks appear, but a search tool also appeared. I must have several hundred bookmarks. I can just type in a portion of the name of a web page and a list of applicable bookmarks is displayed. This is really nice. I am surprised that Mozilla didn’t make the bookmark search tool more obvious in a new installation. It is a feature I use all the time.
Another nice feature is tabbed browsing. As shown in the screen shot, you can hold down your alternate key and click on a web link to open a web page in a new tab. I have found this allows you to continue reading the current page while you wait for the new page to open. If you click on the “Bookmarks” button and right click on a folder that has bookmarks, you will find an option that says “Open in Tabs”. This will open every bookmarked web page in the folder in a separate tab.
Firefox has numerous plug-ins (which they call extensions). These are accessed by clicking on the “Tools” pull down menu and then “Extensions”. On the “Extensions” option is a link called “Get More Extensions”. When you click on it, it brings you to their web page where you can download them. I tried several but there are only a few that I really like and use a lot. One of the most useful extensions is “Resize Search Box”. You may notice on the screen shot that the Google search bar is a little short. “Resize Search Box” to make it any size that you want. The extension “Image Zoom” allows you to enlarge pictures on web pages by right clicking on the picture. It is really frustrating to open a web page and find it has a picture that is too small to see. “Image Zoom” solves the problem. Another extension called “Google Preview” inserts a web site preview in Google and Yahoo search results. The extension “IEView” allows you to right click on a web link and open it in Internet Explorer. This is useful if the page does not support the Firefox browser. The last extension that I like is “ForecastFox” which displays weather information from Weather.com on a toolbar or status bar.
Firefox also has numerous Themes that are downloaded very much like extensions. I suggest staying away from one called “Pinball” if you use Windows. When I tried it, I ended having to completely reinstall Firefox. In fact, I don’t recommend using any of the themes that have a version number less than 1.0.
The only down side that I experienced with Mozilla Firefox is that I had to reinstall the Flash and Shockwave players and also Java when I installed Firefox the first time. I suppose it was worth it though because I found I was using versions on Internet Explorer that were out of date. A good thing is that it imported my favorites from Internet Explorer and other settings. When I upgraded from version 0.9.3 to 1.0, it was not necessary to reinstall Flash, Shockwave or Java.
I discovered by accident that Firefox saves bookmarks to a web page type of file. I made it my starting page. You can access it by using a file manager to access C:/Documents and Settings/[your name]/Application Data/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles/default.mkl/ bookmarks.html. Just double click on the file “bookmarks.html” with your file manager and the web page will open up.
Firefox has a built-in internet search toolbar. When you first install Firefox, the Google search engine will appear. You can click on the “G” which allows you to select other engines like Yahoo. Adding an engine is simple. You just click on the pull down and select “Add Engines…” This will open a web site where you can select from over a thousand search engines. One of my personal favorites is KillerInfo.com. Firefox installs with the search engines for eBay and Amazon.com that you may want to delete. Deleting a search engine is not intuitive but it is fairly easy. Go to C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\searchplugins. Each search engine has a *.src file, and either a *.png or *.gif image file. To delete a search engine, you need to delete both the *.src and image files and then restart Firefox.
Firefox has some other noteworthy features like:
- “Live Bookmarks” lets you view RSS (Really Simple Syndication) news headlines in the bookmarks toolbar or bookmarks menu. A site must be enabled for live bookmarks. For example, on my web page just click on the yellow icon on the bottom right corner of the browser and then click on “Subscribe to George’s Freeware Review Page” and then click on OK. Each software review topic on my page will then be added to your bookmarks.
- A built in pop up blocker
- A cool “find function” that appears in a toolbar across the bottom of the page that you open by clicking on “Edit” and then “Find” (or press CTRL-F)
- It saves passwords separately from other cookies, so when you delete cookies, you don’t delete your passwords.
- A built in download manager
- A bookmark manager that you open by clicking on “Bookmarks” and then “Manage Bookmarks”
- When you open the bookmark manager, a nice feature is available on the properties option that you might miss. You can assign a keyword, or even a key letter, to any bookmark, and then open the website simply by typing the keyword or letter into the URL bar and pushing the “Enter” key.
I’ve found Firefox works with most web sites. If it is not compatible, you will get a message like "This site does not support older versions of Netscape (before v. 6.0)." The Microsoft Windows Update page which has a scanner that looks for updates to your system does not work with Firefox. I got around the problem by creating shortcuts just for Microsoft’s web site. When you create the shortcut, put the following in the “Target” (include the quotes):
"C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe" http://[Windows Update Site]
Then put the following in the “Start in”:
"C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer"
By having your shortcuts set up like this, you can set Firefox to be your default browser and double click on the Windows Update shortcuts and open the Microsoft web site in Internet Explorer.
The only difficulty I had with Firefox was I use a temporary file cleaner and had some difficulty figuring out where the cache folder is located. After reading a tip on a web site, I found that all I had to do is type about:cache in the address bar. After I pushed enter, it not only showed the location but other things about the cache as well.
I’ve read that Mozilla Firefox was developed by the same people that created Netscape. They have actually created some other web browsers before Firefox. I think they must be trying to one up Internet Explorer. I think they succeeded with Mozilla Firefox. I like it a lot.
The Firefox web site says it is compatible with Windows 98, 98SE, ME, NT 4.0, 2000 and XP. I recommend reading the system requirements on their web page but it does say it works on Linux and MACs. The download consists of a single file, Firefox Setup 1.0.7.exe, which you double click with a file manager to install. After installation, the executable is firefox.exe.