Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox

Download Editors' Rating:
5
Spectacular
Average User Rating:
4.3
out of 15581 votes

Quick Specs

  • Version:
    16.0
  • Total Downloads:
    46,136,258
  • Date Added:
    Oct. 09, 2012
  • Price:
    Free
  • File Size:
    37.79MB
  • Downloads Last Week:
    61,703
  • Platform:
    Windows
  • Product ranking:
    #1 in Web Browsers

Editors' Review

+

Please note that the First Look video below is still applicable to Firefox 15, as is this Firefox How To collection, even though it features Firefox 4. A new video will be posted soon.

Review:
Mozilla Firefox has undergone an enormous rebirth over the past two years. Since Firefox 4 debuted in March 2011, the browser has been hell-bent on improvements. These have come in large part on the rapid-release cycle, which sees a new version of Firefox every six weeks. Many people like them, but a vocal minority has pooh-poohed the increase in version numbers. That's hardly a legitimate complaint in a world where mobile apps also update silently and effectively, but the transition for Firefox hasn't been an easy one.

As you can see, Firefox is on version 15 at the time of this review. As a point of comparison, Chrome is currently on version 21 even though it only launched in 2008. The benefit, of course, is a browser that is safer and sleeker, with fewer problems because bugs get fixed on a regular basis.

The Firefox that you can download now is in the same speed category as its competition; offers many similar features (stronger in some 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 (download for Android).

Firefox 15's big claim to fame is locking down memory leaks caused by add-ons, long browsing sessions, and heavy tab usage. The company released data showing huge gains in recovering memory with 150 tabs open, so you're likely to see big gains with only 50 tabs.

On the performance side, Firefox 15 now has Google's SPDY protocol on by default. That means that Web sites that support it, such as Google.com and Twitter.com, will load faster and safer. SPDY is safer because it forces SSL encryption for all connections.

It's important to point out that there are four versions of Firefox available at the moment, and this review only addresses the stable branch, intended for general use. Firefox's other channels -- Firefox beta (download for Windows | Mac | Linux); Firefox Aurora, analogous to Google Chrome's dev channel (download Aurora for Windows | Mac | Linux); and the bleeding-edge, updated-nightly Firefox Minefield (download for all versions) -- are respectively progressively less stable versions of the browser, and aimed at developers.

Installation
Firefox installs quickly, your connection and hardware notwithstanding. There are no pop-ups asking you to register, and although an infobar link to Mozilla's Know your rights page at about:rights does appear, it's unobtrusive.

We're big fans of Firefox's rapid-release cycle. Initially wonky implementation has given way to a mature automatic update process. If you're on Windows, you'll be asked to agree to the User Account Control only when you install for the first time. Thereafter, the browser updates silently.

If you're installing Firefox for the first time, or installing after wiping all profile data, the browser will open to the new about:home Start page. It hosts a Google search box in the middle, and links to Downloads, Bookmarks, History, Add-ons, Sync, Settings, and Restore previous session at the bottom.

If you're updating Firefox from an older version, it checks your add-ons to see which ones you installed and which ones come from third-party vendors, such as security suite makers. The browser will ask if you'd like to disable any of these third-party add-ons. On top of that, all third-party add-ons are blocked from autoinstalling. Instead, you'll be presented with the option to allow them or block them on a per-case basis. This puts Firefox squarely on the side of the user.

We recommend that you set up Sync at this point, because it will allow you to synchronize and backup all your settings, add-ons, and personal browsing data. If you're extremely concerned about your data, you can set up Sync to work with your own server.

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.

Note that people coming to Firefox from version 3.6 or older ought to be prepared for a lengthier install time because of the significant code changes since then.

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
As PCs continue to be rocked by mobile devices, many traditional desktop programs have found minimizing interface chrome to be popular. Google's Chrome browser kicked off this trend in a big way, allowing Web sites to shine through, and while other browser vendors have done their best to go minimal differently, it's hard to not acknowledge the lineage.

Firefox does a good job of taking the concept of minimal and putting its own spin on it. It has small navigation buttons the same height as the location and search bars. The Home button has moved to the right side of the location bar. Tabs are on top for heightened visibility and maximize space given to the Web site you're viewing, while on Windows the control menus are hidden behind the orange Firefox button in the upper left corner.

Menu options have been spread across two columns, and while nearly all the submenus have been redesigned, the hot keys remain the same for a gentle learning curve. 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, to keep with the Mac OS X theme.

In addition to 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 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 at the end of the location bar as an arrow. While resolving a URL, the box changes from the Go arrow to an X for the new Stop button. It might be hard for some to see since the traditional stop-and-go colors of red and green have been removed. You can customize the Firefox skin with the restartless Personas add-ons.

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 Panorama tab-grouping feature. If you don't see the button, you can add it 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 combination of tab grouping and Firefox's robust tab-memory management means you can keep open tabs around much longer than other browsers.

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 which is accessible even to novice users. While competing browsers do offer add-ons and extensions, Firefox remains far ahead of all of them in interface customization. And so, if you don't like the new interface, it's quite easy to revert it to an older style -- or just about any other look -- using add-ons and themes.

Features and support
Firefox is one of the most progressive major browsers available, an early adopter if not always an innovator. Its features cover the range of browsing essentials, from allowing you to heavily customize your browser while respecting your privacy, to giving developers the tools they need, to supporting the technologies that are driving the future of the Web.

One of the most important features in the modern Firefox is Sync. Sync smoothly synchronizes your add-ons, bookmarks, passwords, preferences, history, and tabs, not only with Firefox on other computers, but also with your Android version of Firefox. It's easy to set up, and if you're concerned about privacy, you can change sync to work with your personal server instead of Mozilla's. 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.

Tabs are a big part of browsing, and Firefox has the best tab management around. Thanks to recent memory-management improvements, you can now comfortably scale from two or three tabs to more than 100 without seeing a major performance hit over time. The aforementioned Panorama lets you group them out of sight until needed, and when you restart Firefox only the last open tab will become active. The others, while visible, won't load their content until you click on them. Panorama's groups let you label them which keeps organizational problems to a minimum.

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 to aiming a mouse at a skinny tab, cycling through a list with Ctrl-Tab keystrokes, or pecking at a drop-down menu to reach the tabs that overflowed off into the deep.

Switch to Tab is a minor feature but incredibly useful. Open a new tab and 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 pre-existing 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 accidentally having the same tab open twice or more.

You can also drag tabs around to reorder them, pin them as permanent "app tabs" next to the Menu button, or rip them off into their own windows.

Firefox add-ons have long been the brightest feathers in the browser's cap. While there are other more important browsing developments going on to close observers, add-ons remain important to the vast majority of people. The most popular Firefox add-ons have millions of users. The browser supports modern restartless add-ons, which install without needing to reboot the browser, as well as the legacy add-ons that helped drive its growth.

The add-on manager lets you search for add-ons without going to the external Mozilla Add-on Web site. You can create collections of add-ons to share in the Get Add-ons tab, navigate backward and forward through add-on searches, and as mentioned in the Installation section, it blocks add-ons from installing without your approval.

The Bookmarks and History menus, and Download Manager, leave a bit to be desired. They're not bad, but it's clear that they could use some redesigning when compared to the competition. We'd like to see them appear in their own tabs, as they do in Chrome, instead of in separate pop-up windows.

The location bar -- or as Mozilla calls it, the Awesome Bar -- retains familiar features, such as the options to search your history and bookmarks and to tap into your default search engine to provide you with quick results, without having to use the search box.

The "identity block," the colored left-most section of the URL, has been given a refresh to better call out the Web site you're on. The URL bar itself now changes the text color of the URL you're on so that the domain is black, for easy identification, while the rest of the URL is gray. This sounds small but is important, since it's a strong visual cue to help you avoid getting spoofed.

Also on the security front, Firefox was an early adopter of Do Not Track, which 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, not many Web sites have taken notice of it. That doesn't mean it won't eventually have a big impact, but that time is not now, and it's better to install an add-on like Adblock Plus or Do Not Track Plus to get more complete ad-tracking protection.

The Content Security Policy blocks 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 sites' 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.

Under the hood, Firefox supports full hardware acceleration across all platforms, which means that the browser draws on your graphics card to speed up complex rendering. You'll see dramatic HTML5 support, including for high-definition WebM video, and broad support for the HTML5 canvas, video, audio, geolocation, drag and drop, and form tags. OpenType fonts are supported, as are CSS3 and newer JavaScript values. WebGL and hardware acceleration give the browser a massive boost, which we'll discuss in the Performance section below.

A new Web Developer menu collates tools for building and debugging Web sites in one location. One such is the ScratchPad tool, which browsers like Opera and Chrome have had for some time. It allows developers to test JavaScript and CSS before implementing it. The Web console feature also has a new autocomplete option and can have its location customized. Another dev tool, unique to Firefox, is a 3D visualizer called Tilt, that lets developers see in real time how their code will render on the site.

Firefox 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.

Performance
Firefox 15 introduces a series of memory-management improvements that dramatically increase the stability of the browser. These changes, covered by the internal Mozilla moniker MemShrink, basically mean that the browser can handle a huge number of tabs and add-ons longer than before. Firefox 15 is eminently stable.

As mentioned earlier, the browser's overall performance has been greatly improved by tying performance to the graphics processing unit (GPU) hardware acceleration. This 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. The tasks include composition support, rendering support, and desktop compositing.

JavaScript plays a major role in the modern Web, and changes to the JaegerMonkey engine combined with the GPU acceleration give the browser some serious juice. Ongoing improvements in browser technology make regular browser testing a challenge, but March 2011's browser benchmark battle placed Firefox 4 ahead of Chrome 11 and Internet Explorer 9. It wouldn't be surprising to find that Chrome and Firefox currently test much closer to each other because of their regular updates.

CNET Labs will have an update to our performance benchmarks in the coming weeks. For now, our most recent numbers are from March 2011, when Firefox 4 was released.

One interesting publicly available benchmark is JSGameBench from Facebook, which looks to test HTML5 in real-world gaming situations. JSGameBench hasn't posted new results since April 2011, but the ones it did post gave strong marks to the Firefox 4 beta both with and without WebGL. The stable version of Firefox 4 also did well in JSGameBench tests once it was released.

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 15 can more than hold its own. It's not clear that it's enough to counter the past three 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 want to start looking at other criteria to determine which browser is best for you.

Firefox has plug-in crash protection, which prevents plug-ins like Adobe Flash, Apple QuickTime, and Microsoft Silverlight from causing the browser to drop dead. If one of them crashes, simply reload the page.

Conclusion
Firefox is in an unusual position as the modern Internet stands on the precipice of the second phase of the digital age. As the world prepares for high-powered, always-connected smartphones to dominate, one of the most competitive and forward-thinking browsers comes from an independent nonprofit company.

Firefox's open-source approach and recent developer tools improvements means that the people designing your favorite sites will come back for more, while Mozilla's investment in pushing open Web standards means that the Web has a powerful, noncorporate advocate. Despite the heavy competition from Google, Microsoft, and Apple, and as long as it avoids stagnating, Firefox will have a bright future ahead of it.

 
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Publisher's Description

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User Reviews
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  • Current Version

    0 stars Be the first to review this product
  • All Versions

    4.3

    out of 15581 votes

    • 5 star 10309
    • 4 star 2424
    • 3 star 985
    • 2 star 651
    • 1 star 1212
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Results 1–10 of 14404

2 stars

"Every upgrade gets worse"

December 10, 2014

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 34.0.5

Pros

I liked the ability to configure it.

Cons

1. The search box on the upper right, why did they change it's functionality? It was easy to use, simple and quick. Once you could put the cursor on the search box and then a list of pages would come down and you could easily switch to one or the other. That simple efficiency wasn't good enough for someone at Mozilla so they decided to make it more complicated and added a step.

2. Flash sites. Why is Firefox such a pain in the rear over this? I use Chrome for those sites because FF is often nearly useless. This has been going on for months if not years and nothing is done.

Summary

I'm down with change, I'm not down with useless changes or ones that add a step or two.

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3 stars

"With Almost Every Upgrade FireFox (v34) Gets Worse"

December 09, 2014  |  By Cypherdude

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 34.0.5

Pros

Still customizable, although less than previous versions.
Toolbar Bookmarks don't need any text, to conserve space. You can recognize just the icons.
Can quickly backup all bookmarks and load on a different PC, definitely a plus.
Spell check feature.
Can enlarge most text boxes where you write inside, such the ones I am writing this review.
Can pick and choose different search engines, although some no longer work.
Can add buttons right next to main menu to conserve space, but Mozilla needs to add more buttons.

Cons

Can no longer completely customize buttons. Where are the bars to separate the buttons? Mozilla also needs to add more buttons.
No longer allows you to sort your search engines.
Double clicking on Tabs Toolbar no longer opens new tab.
FireFox no longer works with Adobe Acrobat 10 PDF Printer Driver, Appcrashes.

Summary

With almost every upgrade, Mozilla makes FF worse.

V21: FF stops working w/Acrobat 10 PDF driver. FF Appcrashs & I lose my webpage. FF will create a few Acrobat PDF's before it crashes again. I notified Mozilla, Bugzilla Bug 875691. I use IE9 to PDF print payments, receipts, etc. IE9 never crashes. I cannot use FF to pay or shop when I want a PDF receipt.

V29: can't 2x-click on Tabs Toolbar to create a tab. V34: can't quickly choose default search engine. Must use Options>Search Tab. When highlight text & right-click, why can't FF have 3 search engine choices instead of just default? This way, you never have to change default.

Tab bug: hold, make tiniest move on tab, will be moved to new window. An add-on can decrease FF's sensitivity. This is a security problem & I can't do that on this PC. FF should have about:config sensitivity controls built-in. Mozilla has been notified through Bugzilla.

FF is still a good browser. You can quickly copy your bookmarks from PC to laptop. I have the main menu with buttons on the first line, tabs on the next line, then the address & Search line, then my bookmarks. With FF, you can place many features on screen with minimal space. Mozilla should have more buttons to place, such as all the tabs on Options and the Options>Advanced tabs.

Unfortunately, FF gets worse every upgrade. Sometimes, I get the feeling that Mozilla is just arrogant & they make whatever changes they please. Sometimes I think they don't listen at all to their users.

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5 stars

"Left Firefox for Chrome because of the HYPE! CAME BACK!"

December 08, 2014  |  By bigblkman522

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 34.0.5

Pros

Speed, user friendly, less nonsensical apps and extensions, up dated themes available too! I don't have to be a social media zombie for a feeling of belonging.

Cons

Not too happy to learn of possible ad pitching.

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5 stars

"no problems for me"

November 29, 2014  |  By ChoiceVoice

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 33.1.1

Pros

-very small package compared to a particularly popular browser.
-open source
-i like the new interface.
-still the best for security plugins
-easier to use multiple profiles than chrome.
-i use a sandbox on my browser (from spyshelter). it breaks webkit updaters. but it works fine with firefox.

Cons

-the temptation is there to add too many plugins. which can make firefox slow or unstable depending on plugins you choose.
-no built in sandbox. to compensate for this, i use noscript. but this can be cumbersome.

Summary

i have navigated to firefox with the demise of opera presto. with the right plugins, it has adequately replaced opera.

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1 stars

"Avoid at all cost"

November 28, 2014  |  By skillfulgil01

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 33.0.2

Pros

Privacy has always been their priority. I value that.

Cons

Crashes, Freezes, Etc.

Summary

I've always been an avid Firefox user. I've avoided IE, Chrome, and any other browser. But it seems like the year 2000 was maaaaaaany moons ago and now Mozilla is filled with problems that trickle down to us. I've been avoiding installing their latest version although it clearly reads CRITICAL. Last upgrade I did, somehow, half my add-ons were no longer compatible, it somehow updated everything, although I had Auto- Updates shut down. I feel, if your PC is doing well, why update it.There's always an issue with them now. Guess, "Oops we're sorry" after a crash is the norm now. I just went back to an older version of Mozilla Firefox and went into the folder and deleted the UPDATE file so that I won't see that pestering Pop Up saying it needs to be updated.

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5 stars

"Very suitable for me to use, really"

November 17, 2014  |  By sharerdi

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 33.1.1

Pros

Very suitable for me to use, really

Cons

Nothing. This software is great

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1 stars

"Disappointed!"

November 14, 2014  |  By 67Conrad

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 33.1

Pros

Same Firefox search engine.

Cons

Difficult controls. Will not let me set my homepage. Constantly redirecting me. Very frustrating.

Summary

I have been a Firefox user and fan for years.
The latest version Sucks!

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3 stars

"not so bad, not so good"

November 13, 2014  |  By siriuscanid

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 33.1

Pros

Light, fast

Cons

Does not work well with yahoo email

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1 stars

"What have you done?"

November 11, 2014  |  By sbach65

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 33.1

Pros

I can't think of any pros right now because I haven't been able to get past all the crap on Firefox that wasn't there before. I think everything that was good is gone.
I don't know why a couple of people are basically repeating what the Firefox employees are saying, but they can't be using the new versions.

Cons

Everything that is being said about security is wrong. Yeah it's speedy at bringing up ads and other garbage that I have to close it and then it still isn't closed, but I can't find where it's open.
This was my favorite browser on windows and now I can't open it for fear it will spread its disease all over my computer.

Summary

I want the good Firefox back.

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1 stars

"Getting worse all the time"

November 06, 2014  |  By skipper_h

 |  Version: Mozilla Firefox 33.0.2

Pros

Seems to me, meanwhile all pros have gone

Cons

Freezing the entire machine over and over again, same problem reproduceable on three different PCs running Win7 Pro 32 and 64

Summary

Although that problem has been reported by many users, mozilla is not able (or willing?) to fix it. Instead, a new version every second day, and the behavior of the software still remains the same. This is not the kind of reliable software I prefer. Probably I will have to change to Google chrome - sadly ...

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Full Specifications

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What's new in version 16.0
Version 16.0:
  • - Mac OS X now has preliminary VoiceOver support.
  • - Web app support.
  • - Acholi and Kazakh localizations added
  • - Improvements and bug fixes.
  • General
    Publisher Mozilla
    Publisher web site http://www.mozilla.org/
    Release Date October 09, 2012
    Date Added October 09, 2012
    Version 16.0
    Category
    Category Browsers
    Subcategory Web Browsers
    Operating Systems
    Operating Systems Windows 7, Windows 2000, Windows 2003, Windows, Windows Vista, Windows XP
    Additional Requirements None
    Download Information
    File Size 37.79MB
    File Name Firefox Setup 34.0.5.exe
    Popularity
    Total Downloads 46,136,258
    Downloads Last Week 61,703
    Pricing
    License Model Free
    Limitations Not available
    Price Free

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