Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

More on new Firefox features

I did a post yesterday about this but today I’ve downloaded a nightly branch build and so here’s the lowdown on what’s new.

Update notifications

The update mechanism now almost works! When I first launched Firefox after installing the nightly, it told me that Tabbrowser Extensions and Gmail Notifier had been updated, and offered to download them for me. While it did download them, it didn’t appear to actually update them, so it’s not quite there yet. But it’s progress.
incidentally you will need to update to the latest Tabbrowser Extensions for this build as older versions do not work.

New ‘Web features’ option pane

Screenshot of the new Web Features options pane in Firefox The Web Features pane of the options dialog has been changed, largely to accommodate the new ‘Allow web sites to install software’ option. If disabled, this prevents the user from being able to install XPI packages from web sites, however the Exceptions button opens a dialog where you can ‘whitelist’ sites which should be allowed to install XPIs, such as and This will stop rogue sites using the mechanism to install malware. At the moment it defaults to allowing all sites to install XPIs but I imagine this will change in future.

Information bar

Information bar in Firefox Information bar in Firefox
This feature is borrowed directly from IE6 SP2. If a popup or XPI install is blocked, then the information bar appears, telling the user what has happened, as opposed to merely showing a non-obvious icon in the status bar. With the popup message, you can click on the bar and it will let you show the popup, unblock the site, or let you configure the popup whitelist. With the XPI message, there’s an Edit Options button on the far right. There’s currently a bug here in that if you move to another tab and then move back, the message disappears.

Find toolbar

Information bar in Firefox
This appears at the bottom of the browser window (above the status bar) when you press ‘ (for link text) or / (for all text) outside of a text area, and works like Find As You Type did, except it’s a bit more intuitive. The text you type appears in the box as well as the first result being highlighted in the page, and there are up and down buttons to move through results. Additionally you can highlight words, which is new. If you prefer the old behaviour where it wasn’t necessary to press ‘ or / then there’s an option on the Advanced pane of the Options dialog to switch this back on.

Status bar re-organisation

All status bar icons are now on the right-hand side, and each has its own box to live in (in the default theme). The first is for the padlock that appears when you connect to a secure site, the second is the icon shown when a popup is blocked (this appears in addition to the information bar, again like in IE6 SP2), and the third allows you to switch to alternative stylesheet if one is specified. The fourth is new and I’ll mention this later. Finally there’s a bigger box which lets the user know if updates are available.


Livemarks are a cross between aggregation channels and bookmarks – Live Bookmarks if you like. If a page has an RSS feed, a lightning icon appears in the fourth box on the status bar, and clicking on it lets you choose a Livemark to add to your bookmarks. The livemark then appears as a folder, with its items as bookmarks in the folder. It’s quite a basic but potentially useful function. incidentally, it also supports Atom feeds.

Secure sites

Screenshot of address bar If you’re connected to a secure site, then the address bar will have a padlock by the arrow on the right and the background will turn yellow. The padlock also appears on the status bar as normal. Therefore, if the address bar isn’t yellow, then it’s not safe to give over credit card details. incidentally, I was connected to with 256-bit encryption – IE can only manage 128-bit, so your data is even safer.

Bookmark Manager update

Screenshot of bookmarks manager The Bookmarks Manager now has a folder pane on the left, which should make it easier to navigate. Or at least, it would if it worked properly – right now it doesn’t actually do anything other than look pretty, at least on my system. But it’s still a world away from IE’s very poor ‘Organise Favourites’ window.
The roadmap to Firefox 1.0 gives the browser another couple of months before the final release on the 14th September, so there’s plenty of time for the bugs to be smoothed out. It will ship around the same time as the improved IE6 as part of Windows XP Sp2.


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  2. There’s also the change of the shortcut key that brings your cursor focus to the search bar from Ctrl-K to Ctrl-E.

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  4. Why create an information bar while we have the status bar (which I think was made for displaying status/information…)?
    We need to move our eyes/heads up and down in order to watch the 2 bars (information bar and status bar)…

  5. More on new Firefox features

    More on new Firefox features…

  6. If a popup or xpi is blocked, does that bump the whole display down the width of the information bar, or does the information bar sit on top of the webpage?
    I partially agree with minghong in that it would be a bit distracting with toolbars appearing at the top and the bottom. Why not have the information bar appear in the same place as the FAYT toolbar?

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  8. A couple of differences actually:
    1) The updates do work for me, Firefox did automatically update Tabbrowser Prefs and Download Status bar for me
    2) I don’t get the colours address bar nor padlock in it, just the padlock in the status bar !

  9. Re: 2) Its because of the theme, switching to the default theme fixed that 😉

  10. minghong: You can disable the information bar for popups and just have the icon show on the status bar if you like. It’s probably there to help people who’ve never had a proper popup blocker before and who may be wondering why their sites no longer work.
    Cheah Chu Yeow: Yes, you’re right, but the Tools menu still shows Ctrl+K, even though it no longer works…
    James: It moves the page down, although it’s not animated like it is in IE.

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  13. Nice that these cool features all came in, but in a way it’s also strange because according the roadmap 0.9 would alread be feature complete

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  15. I see that the “open in tabs” isn’t working.

  16. Both CTRL+K and CTRL+E will work for search.

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    Nightly Builds of Firefox are now including functionality dubbed ‘Livemarks’. Basically it puts a little icon in the status bar when you visit a page that has feeds, which you can click to show a menu of the different feeds, which you can then click…

  18. I’ve been experimenting with the XPI blocker and for me if I don’t have it checked nothing can install XPI not even the whitelisted sites. If I have it checked only sites that are whitelisted can install stuff – is that how its meant to work ?

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  20. Actually, as Arvind has pointed out, you don’t quite have that right, because the UI is confusing at the moment.
    If you don’t have the “Allow web sites to install software” enabled, then no site can install XPIs. If you enable it, then just the sites listed in “exceptions” can install stuff. Labelling the button “exceptions” doesn’t make a lot of sense, because the listed sites aren’t exceptions to the option next to the button.

  21. Firefox 0.9

  22. Enter Credit Card Number Here?

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  23. Jafe: That is the case now, but in the build I had, only Ctrl+E worked. The bug has now been fixed so that both combinations work.
    michaell: Thanks for correcting that.

  24. New Mozilla FireFox Features

  25. I care less about whether the current page was delivered securely than whether the form I’m about to submit will be submitted securely. Will there be a mechanism to verify the latter (without reading the page source)?

  26. I love Firefox, but it sucks at a couple things.
    1) Many functions cannot be added to the customizeable toolbar. I want a font size change button (like in IE) and a cookie-access button.
    2) The Tools > Options menu is DANGEROUS for anyone who regularly accesses it to delete history or cache. Why? Accidental deletion of cookies. It’s so oooo easy to click the wrong “clear” button and make your life miserable. Tools > Options is also ridiculous for anyone who rejects cookies by default because it’s a pain to access.

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  28. Minghong: I would want the info bar making a change to the site I am viewing so I can see whats happening. I have a fairly large screen, and occassionally use my system on a projector instead of a monitor. The other alternative would be a dialog that pops up, and forces you to click a button before it goes away. I think the info bar working the way it does is great, as long as you can click it once you’ve read it, so it disappears.

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  30. Eu amo meu Firefox!

    Minha primeira id

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  35. Michaell said:
    ‘If you don’t have the “Allow web sites to install software” enabled, then no site can install XPIs. If you enable it, then just the sites listed in “exceptions” can install stuff. Labelling the button “exceptions” doesn’t make a lot of sense, because the listed sites aren’t exceptions to the option next to the button.’
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  38. Live Links is NOT as good as Sage!
    Really, it’s too bad. I think that the team may have done better to take the Sage extension and just implement that in 1.0PR. What they have is basically useless.