Four FAQs on Firefox 3

Download.com editor Seth Rosenblatt takes a look at four questions you might already have about Mozilla's latest and greatest browser.

Barely two days old, Firefox 3 has already been downloaded more than 12.3 million times at the time of writing. If you haven't downloaded it yet, you can grab it here for Windows, Mac, Linux, and a Portable Windows version.

The price of early adoption, even on a heavily-tested browser like Firefox 3, is early questions. Here are four you're likely to come across, and please add your own in the comments below. I'll do my best to answer them.

Question one: How do you kill the "awesome bar"?

The much-debated "awesome bar."

(Credit: CNET Networks)

Answer: A Howitzer, a crowbar, or concrete boots should do the trick nicely.

Joking aside, I actually like the new location bar. I was surprised at how fast it picked up my browsing behavior. If it's not your thing, or you share a computer and want to avoid your browsing history revealed to all, you've got a few options to keep it from returning any results. Users can also replace it with a reasonable facsimile of the Firefox 2 location bar. To stop listing results, check out CNET's Tom Merritt and his Insider Secret on one way to edit Firefox's config file.

Another config edit starts the same way, by typing "about:config" into the URL bar. No quotes, of course. Once you've gotten past the too-cute-for-words-so-I-won't-even-mention-it warning, paste "browser.urlbar.maxRichResults" into the filter and hit enter. Double-click the integer and set it to 0. Wipe your cache, restart Firefox, and you'll get to be "awesome" all on your own.

So I've given you the Howitzer and the crowbar. For the concrete boots, check out the Oldbar extension, which keeps the location functioning--but as it did in Firefox 2. If the awesome bar is an obnoxious teenager, then Oldbar will de-age it back to the precocious, helpful child it used to be. Keep in mind that the algorithm running it is the standard one in Firefox 3--so you'll get the same results list, just without all the extra drama.

Given the controversy surrounding this feature, there are sure to be more tweaks for it soon. If you're looking to come up with one yourself, it's not a bad idea to become a walking MozillaZine encyclopedia on the Firefox Config file.

Question two: Safari supports color management, but can Firefox?

Configure Firefox for color-managed images.

(Credit: CNET Networks)

Answer: Gloriously so, but caveat emptor: it might cost you in performance on huge images. However, if you're a photographer, this is a must-use feature.

The plug-in you want for this is called Color Management, but it's flagged as experimental. For the sure-fire config edit, type in "about:config" as you did in question one. Type "GFX" into the filter. For "gfx.color_management.enabled" the Value needs be set to "true". Double-click on it to change it, and check out this example to see what a difference a little config editing can make.

Question three: How do I find...?

Search within your Bookmarks, Add-ons, and Downloads.

(Credit: CNET Networks)

Answer: By searching, naturally. You can't google your personal Firefox settings--yet--but now you can natively search the Downloads, Add-ons, and Bookmarks Managers--no extra plug-in needed. Forgot the name of an image you downloaded? As long as you haven't cleared your cache of them, type in JPG to see all downloads in that file format. Know you're looking for a bookmark with the letter Q? That's all it takes to parse that needle from the haystack. If you're looking for a particular add-on, download, or bookmark but you can't remember where you put it, the Manager for each of those categories comes with a search field. Unfortunately, they don't support Boolean terms, but the search tools are still remarkably useful.

Question four: How do I get that incredibly cool plug-in from Firefox 2 to work in Firefox 3 if it hasn't been updated?

Answer: With another plug-in, of course.

Use the MR Tech Toolkit add-on to enable Firefox 2 plug-ins in Firefox 3.

(Credit: CNET Networks)

MR Tech Local Install has adopted a more descriptive name with a version upgrade for Firefox 3 compatibility. Now called MR Tech Toolkit, it's still the power user's all-purpose add-on. It comes with a Toolbar button for restarting Firefox, and can do just about anything--from modifying config behavior, to changing bookmark- and extension-saving locations, to disabling the throbber.

One of the best things it did in Firefox 2 was disable extension compatibility checking, and it continues to do that quite nicely. Be warned that not all your old extensions will work even with the compatibility feature turned off, but it went off without a hitch for TinyURL Creator--which hasn't seen an update since 2007.

If you have an FAQ you'd like answered or an answer you'd like to share, tell me in the comments below and I'll compile them in a future blog.

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