Mozilla Firefox for Mac

Mozilla Firefox for Mac

Download Editors' Rating:
5
Spectacular
Average User Rating:
3.5
out of 533 votes

Quick Specs

  • Version:
    4.0
  • Total Downloads:
    3,292,800
  • Date Added:
    March 22, 2011
  • File Size:
    64.27MB
  • Downloads Last Week:
    4,443
  • Operating Systems:
    Mac OS X 10.5/Intel, Mac OS X 10.6/Intel

Editors' Review

+

The bottom line: Firefox 4 is a worthy expression of Mozilla's ideals. The browser is competitively fast, sports a new minimalist look, and includes some excellently executed features. Unfortunately, that describes most of Firefox's competition, too.

Review:
Firefox 4 had a rough time in its early development, but those days are over. The browser that you can download now is in the same speed category as its competition; offers many similar features (stronger in many areas and slightly weaker in others); includes broad, cross-platform support for hardware acceleration and other "future-Web" tech and standards; and is a must-have for Android users.

Installation
Installing Firefox 4 was a fine, quick experience. Beta users, who toiled for 10 months using betas of varying stability and quality, might be disappointed that Firefox 4 doesn't clean up the beta detritus left behind. That's the cost of using a beta, though.

Firefox 4 does not include automatic updating the way that Opera and Chrome do, although checking out the About option under Help in the menu will automatically start updates downloading, and then ask you to apply them. Firefox 4 has gotten significantly faster at restarting, and the process that used to take several minutes this time took less than a minute on our test computers. Note that this is for updates after you've already installed Firefox 4. Updating from version 3.6 to version 4 is likely to take several minutes, because of the significant code changes that have been made.

Careful Firefox observers will notice that the browser no longer ships with a separate icon for Safe Mode. Simply hold down Shift; when you click on the Firefox icon to open a box you will be allowed to customize which settings carry over to Safe Mode.

Firefox automatically installs a Windows 7 taskbar icon if you choose it as your default browser. Uninstalling the browser does not leave behind any icons or folders if you choose to remove your settings at the same time.

Interface
If you're a big Firefox fan, you'd better hope that you're either not very attached to the version 3.6 look or you're extremely taken by the new design. Firefox 4's main interface is completely different from what's come before, retaining only the larger back button that debuted in version 3. Not surprisingly, the new design also brings the browser significantly closer to the minimalist style first adopted by Google Chrome in 2008, although it looks most similar to Opera 11.

The menu bar has been squished into an orange button on the upper left, with menu options spread across two columns. Nearly all the submenus have been redesigned as well, although the hot keys remain the same, so the learning curve isn't particularly steep. In fact, the menu redesign makes it much easier to get to bookmarks, add-ons, and history, as they now all live on one menu pane. The menu button is not available to Mac users.

Besides the major changes to the menu, smaller changes have greatly improved usability. For example, there's now a Get Bookmark Add-ons link in the Bookmarks submenu. The History submenu now has Recently Closed Tabs and Recently Closed Windows sections.

Tabs are now on top by default, and while the forward and back navigation buttons haven't moved, the stop and refresh buttons are now attached to the right side of the location bar, next to the bookmark star. When you're typing a URL, the "Go" button appears in green. While resolving a URL, the box changes from the "Go" arrow to an "X" for the new Stop button, and the green changes to red. The visual cues are minor but help to highlight their new location in the interface. Returning the Stop and Refresh buttons to their Firefox 3.6 locations can be done via the Customize option. What little color remained in the default interface, mostly the green Back button, has been leeched out for a muted gray. You can customize the Firefox skin with the restartless Personas add-ons, added in Firefox 3.6.

Right of the location bar lives the traditional search box, with its drop-down list of search engines. Above that on the tab bar there is a new button that lists all your open tabs, and you can add a button to access the Tab Groups feature. For some reason, the final version of Firefox 4 doesn't ship with the button by default, although the betas often did. You can add the button by right-clicking on the interface and choosing Customize, then dragging and dropping the Tab Groups icon next to the List All Tabs button. We don't consider many customizations to be essential, but this one is.

The Status bar that lives at the bottom of the interface is now hidden by default, again in keeping with the minimalist philosophy and the competition. There's a new Add-on bar as well, also hidden by default, to which extension icons can be added if you want to keep add-on icons easily available but out of the way of the main interface.

One of Firefox's singular strengths is its capacity for customization, which remains unparalleled, and is accessible even to novice users. While the competition does offer add-ons and extensions, Firefox remains far ahead of all of them in interface customization.

Features and support
Firefox 4's features are robust and generally competitive. There is some minor functionality missing in a few cases where the browser remains behind the competition, but Firefox is generally one of the most progressive major browsers available, an early adopter if not always an innovator.

The most important new feature in Firefox 4 is Sync. As with many recent Firefox features, it started off as a rough add-on, and often deleted data. If you were scared off by its early bad behavior, you'll be glad to know that Mozilla has worked out the kinks: Sync now smoothly syncs your Bookmarks, Passwords, Preferences, History, and Tabs not only with other computers, but also with your Android version of Firefox. (There's also Firefox 4 for Maemo devices. It doesn't yet support syncing add-ons, which is one of those frustrating missing functions mentioned above.)

To use it, click on the Menu button and choose Set Up Sync from the left column. That will take you to a window where you can connect an existing Firefox Sync account or create a new one. Within Firefox Sync, there are two important security points. One is that Firefox encrypts your data before sending it over an encrypted connection to its servers, where it remains encrypted. Mozilla says that the company would not be able to access it even if somebody there wanted to. The second is that you have the option of setting up your own personal sync server. In an age when private data stored by corporations gets hacked and stolen with shocking regularity, setting up a personal sync server is one way to ensure that you bear the responsibility for your own data.

Another big feature in Firefox 4 is support for restartless add-ons. These add-ons are written differently from standard Firefox add-ons, and are expected to become the format for add-ons in the future. As such, not many restartless add-ons exist--only about 115 at the time of writing this review, compared with the thousands of "standard" add-ons. This will continue to pose a big problem for Mozilla, as older add-ons become a bottleneck for Firefox that other browsers, with their newer add-on frameworks, don't have to manage.

Firefox 4's add-on manager has been completely overhauled, and now includes support for the aforementioned restartless add-ons. There's a lot of useful new technology here, as compared with the version 3.6 add-on manager. Not only can you search for add-ons from within the add-on window using the search box in the upper right corner, you can add them without having to jump to the external Mozilla Add-on Web site, also known as AMO. The manager calls out the AMO add-on collections, which you can create more explicitly in the Get Add-ons tab. The add-on manager also allows you to browse Personas, the restartless Firefox themes. It's slightly annoying that clicking on an add-on group or collection opens the page in a new browser window, whereas clicking on a specific add-on opens that add-on's download page within the add-on manager. That's a very minor criticism, though.

Other changes to the add-on manager include forward and back buttons specific to the manager, in the upper left corner, and left-side navigation tabs for specifically focusing on Extensions, Appearance, and Plug-ins. Meanwhile, two little improvements to the manager will impress keyboard junkies. There's a new hot key for pulling up the add-on manager, Control-Shift-A, and you can type about:addons directly into the location bar to access the add-ons manager in a tab.

The tab-grouping feature seems to be suffering a bit of an identity crisis, though its functionality is untouched. Originally called Tab Candy, then renamed Panorama, and now known as Tab Groups, it presents your tabs as an array of thumbnail images. The thumbnails reside in rectangular boxes that constitute a group. Tabs can be dragged from one group to another, and groups can be named and moved as well. You can add a tab to an existing group or create a new group by right-clicking on the tab and choosing Move to Group. The hot-key combo Control-Shift-E will also jump between the main interface and the Tab Group window.

The overall idea is to make it easier to switch from one tab to another, to group or regroup related tabs, and to get a global view of what's going on with your tabs. It's potentially a big improvement in browser usage, compared with aiming a mouse at an ever-skinnier tab, cycling through a list with alt-tab keystrokes, or pecking at a drop-down menu to reach the tabs that overflowed off the deep.

The bookmarks and history menus have been redesigned, and now the hot keys open them by default as sidebars. Go through the Menu button to get the full menus. We were actually quite impressed with the layout of the menu button options for bookmarks and history, finding it much more useful with quick access to recently closed tabs and new bookmark tags. This is probably the most useful in-browser bookmark manager around, especially if you enable Sync and use it with your Android phone or tablet.

Firefox 4 supports App Tabs, which reduces the width of a tab to its favicon and pins the tab permanently on the left. The tab will glow when updated, a useful indicator for things like Web mail. And when you start typing into the location bar, one of the search choices will be related open tabs so that you can quickly switch to an existing tab.

Under the hood there are TONS of changes. The biggest is full hardware acceleration across all platforms, which means that Firefox draws on your graphics card to speed up complex rendering. You'll see dramatic HTML5 support, including for high-def WebM video, and broad support for the HTML5 canvas, video, audio, geolocation, drag and drop, and form tags. OpenType fonts are supported, as is CSS3 and newer JavaScript values. WebGL and hardware acceleration give the browser a massive boost, which we'll discuss in the Performance section below. The short version of all this is that Firefox 4 is on the cutting edge of the next generation of Web standards, and that benefits you immensely by offering faster rendering times of Web sites that can do more.

There's a decent list of other, smaller changes to Firefox that are worth pointing out because they'll enhance your work flow in the browser. One of these is Switch to Tab. Open a new tab, start typing the name of an already-open tab, and the URL will appear in the drop-down with "Switch to Tab" beneath it. Select that one, and the new tab closes and you're whisked to the preexisting tab. It's a great trick for cutting down on the amount of time it takes to sift through 45 open tabs, and removes the chance of having the same tab accidentally open twice, or more.

The location bar, or as Mozilla calls it, the Awesome Bar, retains the features introduced in Firefox 3.5, such as the options to search your history and bookmarks and to tap your default search engine to provide you with quick results. However, the "feeling lucky" instant jump to what it thinks is the Web site you're most likely to be looking for has been disabled because of internal Mozilla concerns about accidentally sending personal information to the search provider.

Private browsing reflects the browser's faster start-up and shutdown times so that it jumps between standard browsing and Private Browsing mode significantly faster than in version 3.6.

The new Do Not Track feature indicates via a header notification that you want to opt out of targeted advertisements. However, it requires that the Web site you're viewing, and therefore that site's developers, respect the header itself. While this is great for future-proofing the Web, as implemented at the time of writing, not many Web sites have taken notice of it. While that doesn't mean it won't eventually have a big impact, that time is not now, and it's better to install an add-on like AdBlock Plus to get more complete ad-tracking protection.

There are two smaller yet important changes to the way that Firefox protects you. One is the implementation of the Content Security Policy, which is designed to block one of the most common types of browser threats, cross-site scripting attacks, by allowing sites to tell the browser which content is legitimate. Though CSP also places the burden on the site developers, it's backward-compatible and aimed mostly at well-known sites hosting immense volumes of data and content.

Another security improvement is the implementation of HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS). This prevents your log-in information from being intercepted by telling Firefox to automatically create a secure connection to a site's servers.

The new feature set alone makes it worth upgrading to the latest version of Firefox. While some older Firefox users may feel that these features add unnecessary bloat to a browser that offers add-ons specifically so that you can customize your browsing experience, Firefox 4 is actually dramatically faster than Firefox 3.6. We address the browser's behavior in the section below.

Performance
As mentioned earlier, Firefox 4's performance has been greatly improved by the addition of graphics processing unit (GPU) hardware acceleration. It allows the browser to shove certain rendering tasks onto the computer's graphics card, freeing up CPU resources while making page rendering and animations load faster. These tasks include composition support, rendering support, and desktop compositing.

JavaScript plays a major role in the Web, and Firefox 4's new JaegerMonkey engine combined with the GPU acceleration gives the browser some serious juice. We'll update this section with CNET's performance benchmarks as they become available, although initial results show Firefox 4 testing competitively against other browsers. Mozilla's own JavaScript benchmarks show the browser running 3.5 times faster than Firefox 3.6.12 on the Mozilla Kraken benchmark, three times faster than Firefox 3.6.12 on the WebKit SunSpider benchmark, and six times faster than Firefox 3.6.12 on Google's V8 benchmark.

One interesting publicly available benchmark is the new JSGameBench from Facebook, which looks to test HTML5 in real-world gaming situations. The Firefox 4 beta was the fastest tested without WebGL, and was the second fastest with it.

Note that to effectively use hardware acceleration, you must make sure that your graphics card drivers are up-to-date.

Browser benchmarks are a notoriously fidgety lot, and often come up against legitimate complaints that they look at too narrow a set of features--such as checking only JavaScript rendering times. In hands-on use, at least, Firefox 4 can more than hold its own. It's not clear that it's enough to counter the past two years of Chrome decisively winning the fastest-browser PR campaign, but that may no longer be the point. All five major browsers are now similarly fast at JavaScript tests, and you may start looking at other criteria to determine which browser is best for you.

In hands-on experiences, one of the best performance differences between Firefox 3.6 and the current version is that Firefox 4 crashes far, far less. That's due in no small part to improvements made to the plug-in crash protection, which prevents plug-ins like Adobe Flash, Apple QuickTime, and Microsoft Silverlight from dropping the browser dead. If one of them crashes, simply reload the page.

Conclusion
Definitely a worthy heir to the Firefox name, Firefox 4's one drawback is that, like its competitors, it uses massive amounts of RAM. Don't expect that to change as the browser is relied upon to perform more and more tasks that once occurred in other programs. It will also be less of a problem as hardware improves.

Firefox 4 faces a much more challenging field of competition than Firefox 3 did. Some people have probably abandoned the browser for the significant speed differences between version 3.6 and Google Chrome. However, the competition has forced Mozilla and others to put out better browsers in order to thrive. Firefox 4 is arguably the best browser on the market today.

 
read more +

Publisher's Description

+
 
read more +
User Reviews
+
  • Current Version

    2.4

    out of 37 votes

    • 5 star 4
    • 4 star 7
    • 3 star 3
    • 2 star 7
    • 1 star 16
  • All Versions

    3.5

    out of 533 votes

    • 5 star 176
    • 4 star 141
    • 3 star 68
    • 2 star 56
    • 1 star 92
  • My rating

    0 stars

    Write review

Results 1–10 of 37

3 stars

"Faster, better"

June 04, 2011  |  By Tiger_Steve

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0

Pros

Faster, easier

Cons

Missing "Colorful Tabs" from previous version

Summary

Should get, but you will be missing a previously useful feature

Reply to this review

Was this review helpful? (0) (0)

2 stars

"works great till it doesnt - went back to 3.6"

April 23, 2011  |  By theatkinsons

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0

Pros

Better management of add-ons

Cons

- Seemingly arbitrary changes to layout of tabs and buttons
- Doesnt work with many logon sites - "Moved Temporarily - click here', then links back to same page.
- Lots of spinning color as the system locks itself up.

Summary

Went back and don't miss anything in 4.0

Reply to this review

Was this review helpful? (0) (0)

2 stars

"works great till it doesnt - went back to 3.6"

April 23, 2011  |  By theatkinsons

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0

Pros

Better management of add-ons

Cons

- Seemingly arbitrary changes to layout of tabs and buttons
- Doesnt work with many logon sites - "Moved Temporarily - click here', then links back to same page.
- Lots of spinning color as the system locks itself up.

Summary

Went back and don't miss anything in 4.0

Reply to this review

Was this review helpful? (0) (0)

1 stars

"Completely useless!"

April 20, 2011  |  By Compuglobal

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0

Pros

- Sorry, not a single Pro

Cons

- slow
- buggy
- crashes more often than any former version
- memory requirements (CPU and e. g. Virtual RAM: 2,5 GB with just one blank page) must be a joke

Summary

The Mozilla-Firefox-project started great, but it became worse with almost every single step of development.

Updated on Apr 28, 2011

Mozilla, you're entering the useless zone.

Reply to this review

Was this review helpful? (0) (0)

1 stars

"FF 4 is garbage."

April 17, 2011  |  By bebop-62

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0

Pros

None. It does not work for the average user.

Cons

Apparently one needs a high end expensive comp for it to work or be a tech geek willing to spend hours tinkering in order to make it work.

Summary

FF4 is the worst Firefox yet. FF 3 works like a charm,but FF4 is buggy,crashes and sucks memory like a vampire. What happened?

Reply to this review

Was this review helpful? (0) (0)

4 stars

"great as usual"

April 14, 2011  |  By Dentark

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0

Pros

faster, better

Cons

Moved the home button to the other side of the screen, when I get used to it they'll probably move it back

Summary

In general I like it

Reply to this review

Was this review helpful? (0) (0)

2 stars

"Needs to go back in the oven!"

April 13, 2011  |  By alvanelldonaldson

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0

Pros

Fast when it works. Supports many popular add-ons.

Cons

Freezes, crashes. Does not working on many sites.

Summary

If you want a reliable browser for your Mac PPC or Intel, your best bet for now is Camino. That's assuming you've made the similar mistake of downloading Firefox 4 by downloading the latest version of Flash for Safari.

Reply to this review

Was this review helpful? (0) (0)

4 stars

"referred to me by another Mac user"

April 10, 2011  |  By singhss1962

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0

Pros

alternative to safari

Cons

two internet options

Reply to this review

Was this review helpful? (0) (0)

1 stars

"can't print webpages, slow opening of pages"

April 06, 2011  |  By meljanewilson

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0

Pros

too concerned with cons to consider pros at this point

Cons

1. browser crashes when attempting to print web pages
2. fails to reinstate previous tabs after crash
3. if browser crashes with multiple tabs displayed, does not display browser page in currently displayed tab window

Summary

Firefox 4.0 browser crashes 100% of the time when I click "Print" command after I have created print version of web page. After that, Firefox has an error message apologizing and asking if I want to reopen browser with new page or reinstate previous tabs. However, Firefox is unable to retrieve those previous tabs on every one of the 10 plus occasions I have attempted this. Is there a Firefox support page to help with problems? Firefox blog page boasts 14.85 million downloads in first 48 hours, but I wonder how many uninstalls of 4.0 they have had? I have had no problems with previous versions of Firefox. I am glad for alternative browser choices, especially since Microsoft's newest version of browser will not support Windows XP. Hoping Mozilla will correct errors in Firefox 4.0 soon.

Reply to this review Read replies (2)

Was this review helpful? (1) (1)

1 stars

"No pinch & zoom in OSX10.5"

April 05, 2011  |  By winojuan77

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 4.0

Pros

None...none...none

Cons

No good for pinch & zoom in OSX10.5...goodbye Firefox 4.0 welcome back
Safari !!!

Summary

Sort it out Mozilla !!!

Reply to this review

Was this review helpful? (0) (0)

Results 1–10 of 37

Add Your Review

Login or create an account to post a review.

You are logged in as . Please submit your review for Mozilla Firefox
Add Your Review

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited.
Click here to review our site terms of use.

Update your review

Since you've already submitted a review for this product, this submission will be added as an update to your original review.
Submit

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited.
Click here to review our site terms of use.

 
see all reviews +

Full Specifications

+
What's new in version 4.0
Firefox 4 is based on the Gecko 2.0 Web platform. This release features JavaScript execution speeds up to six times faster than the previous version, new capabilities for Web Developers and Add-on Developers such as hardware accelerated graphics and HTML5 technologies, and a completely revised user interface.
  • Firefox4 is available in over 80 languages
  • Uses JgerMonkey, a new, faster JavaScript engine that is up to six times faster than Firefox 3.6
  • Support for the Do Not Track ("DNT") header that allows users to opt-out of behavioural advertising
  • Firefox Sync is included by default, allowing you to securely synchronize between multiple computers and mobile devices
  • Certain graphics rendering operations are now hardware-accelerated using Direct3D 9 on Windows XP, Direct3D 10 on Windows Vista and 7, and OpenGL on Mac OS (OpenGL on Linux will be supported in the future)
  • Direct2D Hardware Acceleration is now on by default for Windows 7 users
  • WebGL is enabled on all platforms that have a capable graphics card with updated drivers
  • Native support for the HD HTML5 WebM video format, hardware accelerated where available
  • Firefox button has a new look for Windows Vista and Windows 7 users
  • Tabs are now on top by default on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
  • You can search for and switch to already open tabs in the Smart Location Bar
  • The stop and reload buttons have been merged into a single button on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
  • The Bookmarks Toolbar has been replaced with a Bookmarks Button by default (you can switch it back if you'd like)
  • Crash protection for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X when there is a crash in the Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime or Microsoft Silverlight plugins
  • You can turn any tab into an "App Tab" by right-clicking on it and selecting "Make into App Tab" from the context menu
  • The default homepage design has been refreshed
  • Overhaul of the bookmarks and history code, enabling faster bookmarking and startup performance
  • Per-compartment garbage collection is now enabled, reducing work done during complex animations
  • Additional polish for the Firefox Add-ons Manager
  • Improved web typography using OpenType with support for ligatures, kerning and font variants
  • Web developers can animate content using CSS Transitions
  • Responsiveness and scrolling improvements from the new retained layers layout system
  • HTML5 Forms API makes web based forms easier to implement and validate
  • Support for the new proposed Audio Data API
  • Support for HSTS security protocol allowing sites to insist that they only be loaded over SSL
  • A new feature called Panorama gives users a visual overview of all open tabs, allowing them to be sorted and grouped
  • An experimental API is included to provide more efficient Javascript animations
  • Firefox now supports the HTML5 video "buffered" property
  • Changes to how XPCOM components are registered in order to help startup time and process separation
  • New Addons Manager and extension management API (UI will be changed before final release)
  • Significant API improvements are available for JS-ctypes, a foreign function interface for extensions
  • CSS Transitions are partially supported
  • Core Animation rendering model for plugins on Mac OS X. Plugins which also support this rendering model can now draw faster and more efficiently
  • Web developers can update the URL field without reloading the page using HTML History APIs
  • More responsive page rendering using lazy frame construction
  • Link history lookup is done asynchronously to provide better responsiveness during pageload
  • CSS :visited selectors have been changed to block websites from being able to check a user's browsing history
  • New HTML5 parser
  • Support for more HTML5 form controls
  • Web authors can now get touch events from Firefox users on Windows 7 machines
  • A new way of representing values in JavaScript that allows Firefox to execute heavy, numeric code (used for things like graphics and animations) more efficiently
General
Publisher Mozilla
Publisher web site http://www.mozilla.org/
Release Date March 22, 2011
Date Added March 22, 2011
Version 4.0
Category
Category Browsers
Subcategory Web Browsers
Operating Systems
Operating Systems Mac OS X 10.6, Mac OS X 10.6 Intel, Mac OS X 10.5, Mac OS X 10.5 Intel, Macintosh
Additional Requirements None
Download Information
File Size 64.27MB
File Name Firefox 33.1.1.dmg
Popularity
Total Downloads 3,292,800
Downloads Last Week 4,443
Pricing
License Model Free
Limitations Not available
Price Free

Previous Versions:

Add to my list Report a problem
 
read more +

More Products to Consider

Close[x]

Submit a problem report for Mozilla Firefox

Please describe the problem you have with this software. This information will be sent to our editors for review.

Problem:

The Download.com Installer isn't working as expected

The download link does not work

The software has a newer version

The product contains malicious software

Other

Description:

Please select a feedback type.

Please enter a description.

Submit Problem Report

Close[x]

Problem Report submitted

Thank you for submitting a problem report! The Download team is committed to providing you with accurate software information.

OK