I have been using Firefox 3.01 and I'm just starting to feel comfortable with enough to recommend its use. The timing could be better, since version 3.02 is supposed to be out two days from now. But this is where the time to review it showed up.
Firefox 3 IS faster and uses less resources than version 2.x. It has MOST of the add-in extensions of its predecessor and more ones that aren't and never will be available for the 2.x series. Let's walk through these add-ins and make sure you can fine tune your browsing experience for the maximum in security, ease and entertainment.
The full list and links are included below. I won't be talking about them all. But you can try them all out. The MORE you add, the slower startup in Firefox gets. Not horribly, but be aware that there IS a penalty in startup time to be paid for setting these up. I'll just go over the must-haves.
Staying with the same theme, add AdblockPlus and Adblock Filterset. Dozens, if not hundreds, of annoying ads will disappear forever. And you can add individual ads that annoy you. You should also install NukeAnything Enhanced. You can then highlight text and elements on the page and use the right-click menu to make them go away. Perfect for some pre-printing editing.
After that, I think NoSquint is a requirement. What that add-in does is allow you to set the size of the page (and now the text separately) and REMEMBER your settings. I ALWAYS had problems with the type on Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manner, for example. I could use the Ctrl-SCROLLWHEEL to resize the text, but had to do it every time. Now, NoSquint remembers the last setting at each site and I've got everything looking just right at my commonly visited sites.
I also like a minimal set of toolbars at the top of the screen to maximize the depth of the window I am looking at. Less scrolling is good scrolling. So I run the Classic Compact Options add-in, along with Tiny Menu. This reduces the menu down to ONE word, Menu, that I can click to see the whole old menu. I use the former add-in for fine-tuning the look of the standard default theme that I use. I then moved a LOT of toolbars to the top row where menu used to be and turned off the Navigation toolbar. The result looks something like this:
Once you know what buttons do what, the small buttons work just great. I don't need that big keyhole backwards button, the small back and forth arrows do me just fine. And in the meantime, I have easy access to as deep a browser window as I can arrange. By the way, download ToolbarButtons to give you one-button access to many Firefox functions. Before you do that, install PrintPreview, a sadly missing default feature.
Firefox has a great ability to remember passwords and such. I want something a little more involved, so I use InFormEnter. It lets me remember forms all right. But it also lets me remember bits of information to be entered in new forms I encounter. Such as my name, email and address. It will show a little blue arrow beside fields and I can click it and automatically fill in the information. Takes a LITTLE setup, but after that, you can save oodles and oodles of typing.
SaveFileTo does exactly that. I can right click on a picture and save it to a list of folders I have created. So, I can put baseball pix in BBALL, basketball pictures in HOOPS and funny pictures in LAUGH. Saves having to save the picture to your download folder (heaven forbid, it'd better NOT be your desktop) and then move them.
When you decide to download a file, PDFDownload and DownloadStatusBar are REAL good ideas. The former steps in when you click on a PDF file and offers to download it or to run your PDF viewer within Firefox. Starting up any PDF viewer is a slow pain in the butt. If you have any intentions of saving the PDF, this does it without the issue of looking at it within the browser. Tools for specific tasks. As for the DownloadStatusBar, it shrinks the old window-masking Download dialog box into the status bar area. You can browse and monitor no problem. Highly recommended.
The actual browsing experience is aided by a few things. I like ImageZoom a lot, even though FF3 has some built-in image handling. Image fit is a REAL good thing. I also need an on-line dictionary at times and DictionarySearch is my current choice. I also have a new text highlighter that actually remembers BETWEEN sessions. WiredMarker has some rough edges, including a sub-sub-menu where one shouldn't exist, but it works a charm. I also use StopAutoPlay to prevent videos and music from playing immediately upon loading a site. Some of that stuff is obnoxious. Some of it needs to await my arrival on the tab. Since I load as many as 75 at a time, that might be awhile. Yes, it adds another button click, but it's a small price for control.
Which brings me to the final section of must-haves. I long used All-In-One Sidebar, TabsOpenRelative and AgingTabs to handle my FF2 work. The sidebar was an easy to use, easily hidden and retrieved repository of bookmarks, add-ins, download info and places to stash more buttons in a vertical format. TabsOpenRelative let me click on links on pages and have the tabs open up immediately to the right of the tab I was on. And AgingTabs let me colour the current tab green and the others various shades of yellow depending on how long they had been open. Great stuff!
But AIO Sidebar doesn't work correctly in FF3. Specifically, middle clicking on a folder in the bookmark list does NOT open the tabs, which is only slightly less problematical than the default FF3 behaviour of right clicking on a bookmark folder AND THEN MOVING TO IT! Sort of gets in the way of my being able to right click a bunch of folders and have them loaded in proper order when I come back from reading the morning paper. So, I had to switch to TabMixPlus for FF3. And it won't work with TabsOpenRelative and has it's own tab colouring feature. So, out the other two went, although I keep them around to monitor updates. I would, in fact, immediately go back to the old arrangement if the three add-ins worked as they do in FF2.
TabMixPlus lets me arrange many, many aspects of how tabs are opened and created in FF3. It can be a little bewildering. One thing I DID discover, is that I have to middle click on the folders I wanted opened in the REVERSE order of how I want them open. It keeps 0pening new tabs to the immediate right of the current one, not appending to the right side. Ah well, it's a small price to be paid, one which I hope won't last forever.
There are other links listed below. Check them out. Some might be features I use that you will want to use too. At the very least, NoScript, Adblock and either TabMixPlus or TabsOpenRelative.