Thursday, June 1

How to Make Firefox Pretty, Mac Style

PC users, look away. This is some advice that will be more relevant to Mac users. Sorry, but you gotta blog about what you know.

Safari is a great browser, and in my opinion, no other browser on the planet can render pages as beautifully as can Safari. But for many services, such as Blogger, Safari is not supported. For much of the web, Firefox is the browser of choice, and for good reason. It is relatively fast, consistently renders pages well, supports web standards, supports extensions, has customizable themes, and is open-source. What more can you want? Well, I have only one problem with Firefox and that is its un-maclike interface. Because Firefox is customizable and open-source, however, this can be easily remedied.

First, if you have a G4 or G5 processor, go and get a build of Firefox that is optmized for your particular processor and has apple style widgets here. What is a widget? Widgets are the little information fields that are used on many sites to allow you to select or enter information. This is what the Blogger photo upload page looks like with apple style widgets, instead of the normal Firefox ones. I think it is an improvement.

This optimized version will be called Deer Park and does not use the Firefox icon, but if you are picky, you can change the name and icon back to the originals. To use the Firefox icon, you can either download one of the many custom icons from the web, or copy the icon from your old version of Firefox before you trash it. To do this, click on the original copy of Firefox and choose "Get Info." Then select the small Firefox icon (mine may look a little different than yours) and choose "copy." To make this the icon for Deer Park, simply select Deer Park and choose "Get Info," then select the little Deer Park icon and choose "Paste." To change the name to Firefox, select Deer Park, choose "Get Info," and change the name to Firefox. This will only cause problems if you have another copy of Firefox around, so trash the old version. Whaala! Better than new.

Next, choose one of the beautiful themes from GrApple, and install it into Firefox. Themes are accessible in the tools tab. The theme I chose looks like this:


It makes use of Uno, an application that gives different applications a unified appearance. It provides a very clean look that gets rid of the old style title bar that is still present in some applications. Information on how to install the GrApple themes, and the Uno application, is available on the respective sites.

Lastly, if you make use of tabbed browsing, I highly recommend the Tab X extension. It puts the little "x" that collapses a tab and moves it from the far right of the window to the far right of each individual tab. This makes tabbed browsing much more intuitive.

With these customisations done, Firefox can provide a very mac-like experience, and all the software needed to do it is free. Aaah, the beauty of open-source software. I should note that it's important to be thankful to the people who make all this software and hand it to us for nothing. They don't need to do it, and so they certainly deserve our thanks.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Geof Harries said...

Jon Hicks posted something that may be of interest to you http://www.hicksdesign.co.uk/journal/firefox-becomes-a-contender My favourite extension in his listing is Tab Sidebar, which makes Firefox look and work a lot like Omniweb.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Andrew Stark said...

I like Tab Sidebar as well. Other extensions I'm using are Adblock, Sage (RSS reader), and FasterFox.

11:28 PM  

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