Simplifying your Firefox life with Chrome

By Martin Kelley
September 8, 2008

The big secret about the Google Chrome browser is that it's faster in some tests, slower than other. But guess what? As I wrote in my first review, few of us are going to notice any difference. The best part about Chrome is the look. Google got rid of all the junk that's been added to browsers over the years. The effect is even more shocking to us Google jockeys who have downloaded every extension under the sun.

No one really wants to give up all of these extensions for non-noticeable speed bursts but that design is pretty. Fortunately, a few developers have gotten right to work to create Chrome-like themes for Firefox. I've tried Chromifox and does a nice job of emulating the style. Right off the bat, it's the best Firefox theme I've seen in years; it's much lighter, both in terms of color and design elements than the default themes and any of those popular themes that look like they were dreamt up in someone's cave.

But to really get the simplicity you have to change some of your browser habits.

First: get rid of the statusbar (Toggle View/Statusbar). Wasn't that easy? Is there really any function there you need? Is it worth it to loose that space and add that visual clutter just to have weather updates. If you want the statusbar to show as you hover over a link, then use autoHideStatusbar. You can set it so it shows when you're near the bottom so you can have your weather toolbars easily accessible.

Second: get rid of the toolbars. You should end up with two: the Navigation toolbar and the tabs. First let's clear out some screen real estate. The Stylish extension allows for all sorts of graphical tweaks to Firefox. Load this and then install the Combine Stop/Reload buttons style. Click on the toolbar, hit customize and start moving things around. Get rid of the home button. Get rid of any search boxes. If you're a bookmark fanatic but can get it down to a few buttons you can move bookmarks to the Navigation bar en masse. When done, use "View/Toolbars" to turn off every toolbar but Navigation.

More Chrome effects can be had. LocationBar2: grays out the location bar so that the domain displays more prominently (an anti-phishing strategy). Both Speed Dial and Fast Dial gives you that great opening page look (which Google lifted from the Opera browser).

Any other tips? I'm really not writing this so that you can fool your friends into thinking you use Chrome. I just think that Google has really done a good job bringing fresh ideas into browser design, features that are well worth incorporating into any browser interface.

You might also be interested in:

News Topics

Recommended for You

Got a Question?