What is so great about Firefox?

Posted: 9 Mar 2005

When the mozilla crew started releasing the alpha versions of Firefox, I was probably one of the first 100 people to download and try it. I really liked the idea of having such a highly configurable stand-alone browser.

Over the course of time I've been using Firefox, I've become very accustomed to the way it acts, and have found features not available in most browsers.

Here are a couple of reasons I've fallen in love with Firefox:

  • The search bar in the upper-right hand corner.
  • The "Find" feature being docked to the bottom of the page.
  • No more questions about whether the page is secure or not.
  • Typing anything into the URL bar usually gives good results.
  • Firefox Extensions.

Search Bar

With Firefox, if you want to search for something, there's a nice window that's always top-level for you. You simply type in what you want to search for, and press enter.

There's a list of pre-configured search engines also, so you've got more options. You can perform such searches as word definitions using Dictionary.com or things to buy using ebay, or amazon.com.

Docked Find Bar

With other browsers, whenever I wanted to search for something, I found it cumbersome to locate what I was looking for, because the "pop-up find dialog box" was in the way. Firefox solved this problem by docking it to the bottom of the screen.

To activate it, press "CTRL-F" and you'll notice a little bar appear at the bottom of the browser.

Begin typing something, and if it's found on the website in the browser, the word will be highlighted in green on the page.

If it can't be found, it will be highlighted in red in the find bar.

This makes finding things so much easier than with any other search method I've come across. As soon as the term can't be found on the page, the find bar turns red. No text to read, nothing to hunt for, just watch for red in the find bar and you'll know if you've hit a snag. If it doesn't turn red, look for the green highlighted text on the page. Very easy. Very convenient.

Obvious Security

On most browsers, the only way to tell a page is secure is by looking at the URL to make sure the "https://" protocol is being used, or looking at the bottom right-hand corner to see if a "padlock" is activated and closed. Not too obvious.

With Firefox 1.0, mozilla has made the page's security quite obvious.

If you hit a secure page, the entire URL address bar will turn a bright yellow, with a "locked" padlock at the end of the window, and in the usual bottom-right location.

With Firefox, most people will most likely feel a bit more at ease while making purchases online because it's so easy to tell if the page is secured or not. No mistaking it with Firefox, that's for sure.

Intelligent Address Bar

I think mozilla has hit on gold with this one. I actually found it by accident when I was surfing the net.

I opened a new browser window and typed in "linux games" in the URL bar instead of the search bar. I shortly realized what I had done, and anticipated the usual "I don't understand what you're trying to do" or "404 Error" message other browsers give when normal English is put into the URL bar.

Instead, Firefox quickly opened the URL "http://www.linuxgames.com" and everything was fine.

After it loaded, I sat there kind of dumbfounded for a bit, wondering what had happened. I then tried putting various other things into the URL. Everything from "I would like to find out what kind of pizza is currently being sold at Dominoes" to "pv2-250 repair issues". They all gave me relatively great results by taking me to pages containing information about what I had typed in.

What was happening was, Firefox seemingly attached the "I'm Feeling Lucky" functionality of google directly to the URL bar inside Firefox.

It's great! If the text entered into the URL bar is not formed correctly, it simply goes to google, searches for whatever was put in the URL bar, and returns the top-most result. I love it.

Firefox Extensions

Firefox out of the box is a pretty slim browser. It doesn't do anything too terribly fancy, and I'm sure most people enjoy it as it is. Firefox has the capability, however, to insert an ever-growing list of applications into itself to make it perform some additional function. To see what I'm talking about, simply follow Tools -> Extensions

Then, when you click, a window will appear.

As you can see, I've got one extension installed - the ad blocker.

From ad blocking, to auto-filling forms, to acting as a download manager, to outlining all essential web developer tools. The extensibility of Firefox is truly amazing.

That's just a few reasons I love Firefox. Anyone who hasn't tried it certainly should do so. From my vantage point, it certainly adds a lot of ease and convenience to surfing the web.

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