Mozilla Firefox is a free open-source web browser produced by the Mozilla Corporation available since 2004. It is available for use on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux platforms. Firefox has 23% of the market share among web browsers which makes it the third most popular browser after Google Chrome and Internet Explorer. It is available in 88 languages.
The installation file is a solid 17 MB. Among other questions, the installer asks if you would like to allow the Firefox maintenance service. This service updates Firefox without having Windows User Account Control (Windows Vista and afterwards) ask for permission first. Otherwise, installation is generally fast and glitch-free. The appearance is somewhat minimalist with the browser taking up a lot less screen space than in the past. Only the Back and Forward buttons are located in their regular places while the Refresh button is located in the Address Bar and the Home button is located at the end of the dedicated search bar. It is not immediately apparent if any increased functionality is derived from such strange placement, but needless to say, users will either have to get used to this unorthodox arrangement or rearrange it themselves.
Mozilla Firefox wasn’t the first browser to introduce tabbed browsing, but it was the first that exposed the feature to such a wide cross-section of people. Tabbed browsing features are now common to most if not all browsers. New tabs display thumbnails of recent and frequently visited sites which is quite convenient. You can choose to bookmark all open tabs or open all tabs in a folder. If Firefox’s native tab options are not enough for you, extensions like Tab Mix Plus offers a lot more capabilities.
One of the features that has been particularly attractive to Firefox users is the wide array customizations that is available to users. Firefox’s enthusiastic bunch of fans have created extensions for virtually any purpose you can imagine. The list is far too extensive to explore here, but can greatly improve their productivity and browsing experience by adding a few good additions. Also, as noted before, Firefox isn’t the slickest-looking browser, but there are themes available that can put a better-looking front on your browser. Firefox users can also add search engines to the browser’s dedicated search bar. However, there are extensions that can have a negative effect on your browser’s performance so it’s always a good idea to read reviews and monitor your browser’s behavior after installation.
Like other browsers, Firefox also offers a variety of helpful features like Private Browsing, Firefox Sync. It also has an Instant Website ID to help decrease the chances for phishing. The Awesomebar, Firefox’s cure for the common address bar, will help you search while you type. This feature is much less functional than Chrome’s address bar however, since Firefox’s Awesomebar only searches your bookmarks and history.
One of the issues that Firefox has wrestled with is its large memory usage which has been consistently high. Although efforts have been made in the past to decrease the size of its footprint subsequent editions have failed to properly address the issue. Thus this version of Firefox still weighs heavily on memory resources.
Mozilla Firefox was once considered the rightful heir to the browser empire headed my Microsoft’s long-reigning Internet Explorer. However, sluggish and quirky behaviour has seen Google Chrome usurp Mozilla Firefox. However, there are still lots of positive things to say about the browser that sparked the exodus away from Internet Explorer.
- + Fully extensible
- + Dedicated search bar
- - Resource hungry
- - Awesomebar is less impressive than Chrome’s
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