A Week With Firefox (Part 2) 04.25.2005
I doubted at first that I would be able to make it a whole week without using Safari. In fact, the very reason I chose to this this project as the first one in my “A Week With” series is that I knew it would be one of the toughest to do. Despite this, I managed to use Firefox for the whole week without ever launching Safari. So, now that the week is over how did things go? I really like Firefox! It took a little configuration to get things just right but now that I have it the way I want it I do not see myself going back. As a matter of fact, I have even removed Safari from my Dock and put Firefox in it’s place.
The first thing I had to do was import all of my bookmarks from Safari. There are quite a few bookmark exporting tools out there for Safari so this was not an issue. I simply imported that bookmark file into the Firefox bookmark manager and, with a little reorganization soon had both my toolbar bookmarks and bookmark menu items in the proper place. I will make the comment that the Firefox bookmark manager leaves a lot to be desired (especially the ability to move items around). If you are constantly futzing with your bookmarks then Safari definitely has a leg up on Firefox.
Next, I had to improve that god-awful PC like interface. The buttons and widgets all look like they were designed for Windows 95. Thankfully, one of the other features of Firefox is the support for themes that allow you to change the look of the browser. There are hundreds of themes available. I chose one called Safarish that was recommended by a great article on Mac OS X Hints that tells you how to make Firefox more “Mac Like”. This was much better.
The other powerful feature of Firefox is it’s support for plugins and extensions. These allow the user to add features and functionality to Firefox. For instance, Sage is an integrated RSS reader that is leaps and bounds over the new Safari RSS features in Mac OS X:Tiger. Another, called Down Them All allows you to download every linked item on a page. useful if you go to a page with several files you need to download. This will do it with one click. Because Firefox is open source there are literally hundreds of people writing things like this.
The biggest feature of Firefox for me though is speed. It is markedly faster than Safari and that is saying a lot because Safari is pretty fast. What is better it that you can make it even faster by modifying a few lines in the config file. After doing this pages load so fast you barely even notice them doing so. As a matter of fact, the config files hold many secrets worth looking into.
All in all, I am very happy with Firefox as my default browser now. This weeks experiment was well worth all of the effort and was a rousing success!
Now I wonder what crazy idea I will come up with next week. Tune in on Monday to find out.