What I like about Firefox is it feels very much like working with a universally understood standard for the way a browser should behave across platforms. OmniWeb and Safari both have their tweaks, and while both browsers are superb, there’s a feeling of psychological reprieve when I open up Firefox. Knowing that, in a small way, I am theoretically a step closer to using something that the rest of the computing population at least has access to seems very… different. For a Macintosh devotee who has grown accustomed to using programs targeted only at our own niche market, that’s a nice change of pace.
The Two Tweaks
As an aside, here are two things that I did to make my Firefox experience even more enjoyable. In fact, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like using the browser so much without them.
First, I edited the arcane but powerful Mozilla preferences at the heart of the program to allow navigating through Web forms through use of the tab key. This is a native behavior to Windows, and the Mac unfortunately does not support it nearly as well, but if you make these changes, it qualifies as ‘good enough.’
In the Firefox address bar, just type “about:config” for a full list of the configurable preferences. Then in the Filter field that appears, type “tabfocus” to jump to the accessibility.tabfocus preference. Then change the value from 1 to 3, for tabbing to text controls and form elements only, or to 7, for tabbing to basically everything on the page (I use 3).
My second minor tweak is to download and install Kevin Gerich’s Pretty Widgets, which replaces a few key user interface elements to create a more Aqua-like and vastly more appealing look for every Web form. This visual hack is in lieu of forthcoming, truly Aqua-native widgets, but it makes a big difference to me in using Firefox today. It’s also a good representative of one of the things I really like about Mozilla browsers; there’s always someone doing something interesting for it.