Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Firefox 0.9 Tour

Since the release candidate of Firefox 0.9 is out, I’ll go through what is new in this version. There’s actually quite a bit that has changed, mainly because of the new theme.

The installer hasn’t really changed much, other than it now asks you where you would like icons installed to instead of shoving them on the desktop, quick launch bar and start menu without your permission, and that it takes a little longer to start due to the LZMA compression. But then it does mean that this 0.9 candidate is only a 4.7MB download. And that includes Talkback. Impressive.

Firefox Main Window When you launch Firefox for the first time, you’ll see something like this. Unless you already had an old version installed but I’ll come to that later. First thing to notice is the new theme, Winstripe. When I first saw the screenshots I turned my nose up at it, but having actually used it I’ve warmed to it a bit. That said, I think djst’s suggestions are worth taking into consideration. You also have to remember that this theme is likely to evolve before version 1.0, which is still at least a couple of months away. There’s also an optional new ‘Mail’ icon for the toolbar that mimics IE’s Mail icon, letting you read new mail and compose messages from Firefox. One bug I noticed is that if you don’t allow the tab bar to be hidden when only one tab is open (not the deafult behaviour) then when you open a second tab the tab bar gets a few pixels larger.

Firefox Bookmark Manager Window Next is the Bookmark Manager, which also acquires the new theme. Nothing particularly interesting to report here, other than that for some reason the order my bookmarks appear in here was different to their actual order. Probably a bug.

Firefox Options Window On to the Options dialog, which has had a few changes. Firstly, the new theme, and this is where you can really see Winstripe’s Mac OS X heritage. You’ll also notice that ‘Extensions’ and ‘Themes’ have gone – more on this later, but their absence makes the dialog feel less cluttered as a result. The other tabs have only changed slightly, with a bit of re-ordering on the ‘General’ tab (you can now stop Firefox from being the default browser) and these new options on the ‘Advanced’ tab which work with the new Extension Manager. They should also let you keep Firefox up-to-date more easily.

Firefox Javascript Options Window One other change is on the Advanced JavaScript Options panel, accessible through the ‘Web Features’ tab. Firefox can now stop pages from disabling the context menu on web pages – it’s a common, albeit very crude tactic to discourage people from copying code or images. By default, pages can still block the right-click action but you can disable this here.

Context menu while hovered over an image While we’re on the subject of context menus, you can now right-click on an image and copy it to the clipboard (Windows and Mac). This is another IE feature that Firefox was missing. Previously you would have to save the image, open it in a graphics viewer and then copy it.
Firefox Set as Wallpaper Window The ‘Set As Wallpaper’ function has also been improved – now, instead of instantly setting the image, this dialog is shown which lets you decide whether you want it tiled, centered or stretched. You can also changed the desktop colour, so if you’re centering the image it can have a matching background colour. This dialog also prevents accidental setting of images as your desktop, particularly useful if you browse sites with a lot of risquΓ© images πŸ™‚ .

Firefox's Import Wizard I mentioned earlier about what would happen if you had an older version of Firefox installed, and here’s what you would get – the Import Wizard. In 0.9, your profile settings are stored in a new location, and the import wizard will appear to allow you to move your settings over to it.

Firefox's Import Wizard However, if you savaged your old profile before upgrading (like I did) or are new to Firefox, you can still use the Import Wizard to transfer settings from another browser, of which many are supported – it’s on the File menu. I’m unsure if Opera and NS4.x are fully supported yet – I have Opera 7.5 on here and it wasn’t picked up by the wizard. It can import an impressive amount of user data from IE, so you IE users have even more reason to switch.

Firefox's Tools Menu Over to the Tools menu, which is the only menu to really see a lot of changes. Web Search doesn’t really do that much, other than transfering focus to the search box at the top. Downloads launches the Download Manager that was introduced in 0.8, and Themes and Extensions now get their own dialogs away from the Options dialog.

Firefox's Download Manager We’ll look at the Download Manager first. Functionally this is the same as 0.8, but it now has the new theme (and doesn’t have the single fingered salute, sorry, download icon as a background). One other feature worth pointing out are the icons. Once a program has finished downloading, its own icon appears in the dialog, instead of the generic program icon. Secondly, Firefox now includes document icons for files that are associated with it instead of using the program icon.

Firefox's Extension Manager The Extension Manager is brand new for this release. It allows for all extensions to be uninstalled and updated from a new central repository. The icons let enable or disable extensions, or view more information about them. I haven’t really had chance to test this is the repository isn’t running yet and there aren’t many extensions available – all extensions have to be repackaged for this release otherwise they won’t work (although there is an extension that lets you install legacy extensions).

Firefox's Theme Manager The Theme Manager is also new, and works in the same way as the Extension manager, except it works with themes instead (as you’d expect). Again, I haven’t had the chance to install any other themes, but you can uninstall and update any you have installed.

And that concludes our tour. Other new features include:

  • An installer for the Linux GTK builds
  • Talkback, which lets you report crashes (you can disable it if you choose a custom install, but please don’t)
  • A warning dialog when closing a window with multiple tabs (Mozilla and Tabbrowser Extensions already had this)
  • Deletion of auto-complete results, by pressing Shift+Delete – another feature borrowed from IE
  • New ‘Add a keyword for this search’ feature in text-boxes – if a site has a search function, you can use this to allow searches from the address bar
  • A 3% increase in general speed

Jesse Ruderman has this full list of new features including those on the technical side. One feature that I was expecting that isn’t here is Help – the only items on the Help menu are ‘About’ and ‘Release Notes’.


  1. I think the help issue has something to do with a file not being created in the profile. This and similar bugs have existed for ages, but nobody seems to care enough to write a patch.

  2. Seen elsewhere – Firefox 0.9 Tour

    Neil Turner has a comprehensive article that takes you through what’s new in Firefox 0.9. I was going to do the exact same thing when the full 0.9 release arrives, but Neil has done an excellent job with his article…

  3. Firefox 0.9 RC1 Available

    It seems that Firefox RC1 is now available on the Mozilla FTP site.
    You are encouraged to download this build and test it and to report any show stopping bugs that you find. You can find provisional 0.9 release notes here and can expect the final re…

  4. You mean they aren’t renaming it to celebrate a new version? Have they completely lost their mind?!

  5. “Help for IE Users” is already available in Firefox 0.9 RC.

  6. i’ve noticed that at the end installer says “Launch Firefox 0.8”. no big deal, but “Firefox 0.9b” would be better.

  7. Firefox 0.9 RC1

    So we’ve gone from this: to this: It is admittedly less cluttered, but it’ll take a while to get used to. Neil has a great ‘tour’ of Firefox 0.9 RC1…

  8. Firefox 0.9 RC1

    Neil’s World – Firefox 0.9 Tour. Well worth a read, Neil’s spot on as ever….

  9. Excellent review.

  10. firefox 0.9

    Neil Turner sul suo blog presenta un articolo che tratta tutte le novit

  11. On the absence of the background in the Download Manager:
    More importantly, this greatly speeds up resizing the downloads window on slower systems. The alpha transparency necessary to have the background blend made resizing it to larger sizes (such as fullscreen) very painful once the window was moderately big. At small sizes it worked fine, but at big ones a visible wait occurred between each window redraw.
    On the absence of Help:
    Help is in the builds, and it’s accessible through a chrome URL. However, Help isn’t shown yet because of a bug that’s preventing it from being registered correctly within the backend. It’s blocking Firefox 1.0, tho it really should block 0.9 because Help’s an important new feature in 0.9 for new users. (I have no idea why it’s been minused for 0.9.) See for details.
    On the 0.8 in various places in the UI:
    That’s a last-minute fix which will be applied right before the Firefox 0.9 release is compiled. Don’t expect to see that change until 0.9 is released.

  12. firefox 0.9 release candidate

    Ben and the Firefox team (which I guess includes me) have released a pre0.9 build for final testing before the upcoming Firefox 0.9 release (hopefully next Monday). There’s a pretty good review with screenshots over at Neil’s World if you’re looking fo…

  13. Reloaded

    Firefox 0.9RC1 has just been released. I have some great news for IE users and helpful information for up…

  14. Firefox 0.9rc1

    Firefox 0.9rc1 has been released….
    Here’s a good walk-through of changes

  15. Firefox 0.9

    Neil’s World – Firefox 0.9 Tour…

  16. Firefox 0.9 RC1 Available

    A testing candidate version of Firefox 0.9 is now available for download. Neil’s World has an in-depth look at what’s new. [via Anil’s Daily Links]

  17. Mozilla Firefox 0.9RC

  18. Firefox 0.9 RC1 is Out

    Mozilla Firefox Release Candidate 0.9 has been released.
    From my initial use of it I am very impressed. I would love to write a review on it but there are far more talented people out there than me. Neil Turner is one of them. You can read his full…

  19. Geeky Goodness

    I lurv Firefox. It so completely rocks my socks. Even better, version 0.9 is right around the corner! Neil takes a look at Firefox 0.9, and posts about the changes (with screenshots). Definitely worth looking at if you use Firefox…

  20. i love the cool import features.
    speed of firefox still outrace IE.
    a lovely upgrade

  21. Tour of Firefox 0.9

    Neil Turner has posted a review of the latest version of Firefox: Firefox 0.9 Tour. Firefox is my browser of…

  22. Ah, but Firefox is free, doesn’t include compulsory advertising and is far more extensible. Its rendering engine is also more robust.

  23. Nice review, Neil.
    On the help issue: Did you install Firefox into an empty directory? Maybe you’re hit by bug 244479, which I’ve marked as WORKSFORME earlier. :-/
    Try this:
    1. Rename your Firefox directory.
    2. Install Firefox again into an empty directory. Do not start Firefox yet (deselect the checkbox in the installer).
    3. Have a look at \chrome. There should be no chrome.rdf in it. Can you confirm that? Now when you launch Firefox, menu Help->Help Contents should show up.
    By the way, you missed my “languages and character encoding” dialog in Tools->Options->General. πŸ˜‰

  24. Ya se acerca el 1.0 (de Firefox)

    Por lo pronto, aqui hay un tour de las cosas que veremos en la próxima-a-salir versión de Firefox (la 0.9) Se ven bastante bien las mejoras y añadidos, especialmente lo de copiar una imágen al portapapeles y lo del wallpaper…

  25. Firefox 0.9

    Yesterday I noticed an announcement about Mozilla Firefox Release Candidate 0.9.
    I hadn’t been keeping up to date with nightly builds like I had been so I figured that I should upgrade my version of Firefox. The upgrade was very smooth and I onl…

  26. Firefox tour

    For those who are interested, here is a tour of Firefox 0.9.
    Looks like some nice leaps forward. The only thing I’d like to see chnaged is the bookmark editor, at least on the OS X version. Camino (also by Mozilla) has by far the best bookmark edit…

  27. Is it just me, or has Firefox gotten worse with the last two releasese (since 0.7)?

    I just finished reading Neil Turner’s the review of the latest version of Firefox, and my first thought is, “I’m not installing that.” Of course, I probably will end up doing so at some point, but it is so disappointing to see a project that started wi…

  28. > Firefox is also slower
    In which areas? For my machine (win2k), Firefox starts up (much) faster than Opera. Opera is as slow as Seamonkey. (By the way, Seamonkey 0.8a starts up much faster than before.)
    Also, the installer size of Firefox is getting smaller and smaller, while that of Opera is getting larger and larger.

  29. My first day with Firefox 0.9

    I was using Firefox 0.9 RC yesterday for the whole day. Don’t expect any big improvements, but here are something new…

  30. I spent a couple of hours yesterday playing around with Firefox 0.9RC and simultaneously trying to figure out how to manually install an old theme to research creating my own. There was a particular bug(?) which forced me to switch back to Firefox 0.8 – being that forms would not submit after clicking the “submit” button. I did a number of fresh installs and still encountered this problem – anyone have an idea what could be wrong?
    Also worth mentioning is that the User Profile folder moved from /Application Data/Phoenix/ to /Application Data/Mozilla/Firefox/. I was trying to update my “blocked images” list (using this reference:, until I finally realised it was the “hostperm.1” file in my profile folder. This was a pain to change manually and I ended up doing a search/replace in Microsoft Word to make the list compatible with the way Firefox generates it.
    I missed the addition of the “right-click on an image and copy it” menu-option. Excellent to hear, up until now I’ve been installing an extension which added that feature. πŸ™‚
    So finally, if anyone can give some ideas on how to manually install a Firefox theme hacking the .jar’s and “installed-chrome.txt” file, please let me know. Cheers!

  31. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my site, Neil. While it sounds like the new extension architecture will be an improvement, I’m amazed at how little time the authors of extensions are being given to update their extensions, and how badly they are treated in general. When 0.8 was released, downloads of the extensions were shut off.
    For me, extensions like Adblock and Tabbrowser are the whole point of Firebird — without them there isn’t any reason to use it.

  32. The extensions were not intentionally shut off when FX0.8 was released – they were unavailable because the servers were overloaded due to the sheer number of people downloading it.
    The new documentation for extensions has been available for around a month now.

  33. Firefox 0.9 RC

    “A testing candidate for the newest and best preview release of Mozilla’s next generation browser is available for download – featuring a new theme for Windows and Linux and much more!”rnDownload: Windows Installer Zip, Linux Installer ohne Insta…

  34. An Early Tour of Firefox 0.9

    Step right up and see what’s new

  35. Firefox 0.9

    Firefox 0.9 est sorti.

  36. Is there anyway to remove the address bar from the toolbar, in Firefox?

  37. Firefox 0.9 final

    Anoche sali

  38. Hey, Neil. Nice going – according to Popdex, this page was listed as the 4th most popular among blogs that day, and the next day you rated 16th. πŸ™‚

  39. Oh, wait. This was about 3-4 days before either of them. You must have been linked to from a popular place other than Slashdot or Neowin then. πŸ˜€

  40. My only real complaint about Firefox is their tab implementation. They talk up tabs in their propaganda, but there isn’t any option in firefox to allow one to only use tabs. Compare this to some of the IE overlays such as MYIE2 or AVANT Browser that make EVERY window open as a tab. Even the extensions for Firefox that purport to make this happen don’t really implement it well. I still end up with an extra Firefox window. Would it be so difficult to include an option or two that disables the opening of another firefox window and opens up tabs only? Since so many other browsers support it, I assume that it shouldn’t be too difficult, especially if it is a focused on feature.
    My 2 cents.

  41. There are a couple of extensions that will achieve what you want – Tabbrowser Extensions and Single Window. Both are now 0.9-compatible.
    For someone who is not used to tabs having everything open in tabs, switching to a tabbed browser rightaway is probably confusing, which is why the Firefox devs didn’t take that approach.

  42. >For someone who is not used to tabs having everything open in tabs,
    >switching to a tabbed browser rightaway is probably confusing, which is
    >why the Firefox devs didn’t take that approach.
    This is why it could be an unchecked option, but still built into the core. Lord knows how many features most IE users never use or never look into, but they are still there. Looking at the Single Window website confirms that I am far from alone in griping about this.
    The extensions you mentioned are imperfect. Single Window works occasionally when it works at all, and on the Tab browser Extensions website, it is stated that the extension could cause stability issues. That I don’t need. Once this issue gets fixed, then Firefox could easily be my browser of choice.

  43. I think that 0.91 proves my point about 0.9. I’m hoping that hiring a product manager will bring a little more caution into the release process.

  44. Try Tabbrowser Preferences 0.6.0-RC9. I’ve been using it, and so far everything I’ve done has been restricted to a single browser using tabs.