Checking out Firefox 1.5 for Mac OS X

by Giles Turnbull

Another day, another browser to play around with. I'd be astonished if Firefox has improved enough to draw me away from Camino, but let's spend some time with it and see what's new...

Auto update is an interesting new feature, though I won't be able to put it to the test until there's a new version of Firefox to download. I'm curious to find out what happens when an autoupdate is downloaded; does the app quit and restart itself - and what warning does the user get that this will happen? What happens to open windows or tabs? I'll have to wait for an update to find out.

The preferences pane now looks and behaves like many other preferences panes you find on OS X. It appears as a separate window, rather than a sheet as it used to, and to my mind is fractionally more responsive than before.

Rather to my surprise, because I'm sure it didn't used to work, the Command+Option+Left/Right Arrow keys work to move between tabs.

Another behavior that seems new to me (but might not be, because I've not been using Firefox regularly for a while - in which case, please put me right in the comments) is use of the Tab key to move around the application. Say you move from one tab to another - initially, the focus will be on the page itself. Press tab once and you'll move to the location bar; again, and you'll be in the search box; a third time (and this is what I think is new), and the tab itself will be selected. Now you can move tabs just with the arrow keys. And you can re-arrange tabs at this point, too - hit Command+Left/Right to move a tab around. Tabs can be dragged to new positions with the mouse, of course.

There's a new "Report Broken Web Site" button, whose icon looks oddly out of place when added to the Toolbar. This is not a tool for admonishing lazy webmasters, but rather for alerting the Mozilla team about sites that still break in this version of Firefox. The more such un-cooperative sites they know about, the better things will be in 1.6; at least, that's presumably the theory. Clicking the Broken button takes you through a short wizard-like interface in which you're asked to explain a little bit of context, and provide some detail about the error you saw.

Backspace now works as a Back control. Indeed, as claimed by the release notes, moving both Back and Forward through the history is nice and fast. The .dmg artwork has been spruced up (the work of Jon Hicks, I think). You can now import your stuff from Safari (File -> Import...). Under the Tools menu, there's two new email-related commands: Read Mail and New Message. I use, so for me these commands just switch focus to Mail, and open a new message in Mail respectively. I'd be interested to hear what their behavior is when used with other mail clients.

I've been playing and browsing with Firefox 1.5 for about half a day now, and so far I have no complaints.

Had a chance to try it out yet?


2005-11-30 09:48:12
I like it
Man, the extension alone may be worth the switch (since I use for my bookmark management). Though Camino looks great, the lack of extensions is going to kill its adoption potential. It still pretends RSS doesnt even exist, for crying out loud.

Its between Safari and Firefox at this point; the Inquisitor plugin for Safari would be hard to live without though.

2005-11-30 10:19:38
I like it
It still pretends RSS doesnt even exist, for crying out loud.

To me, this is a good thing. I prefer to keep RSS feeds inside NetNewsWire, and web pages inside Camino. The two of them work just fine together.

2005-11-30 11:20:44
There is at least one thing that I hate about Firefox. Has been in 1.0, is still in 1.5. Here comes: Why on earth is CMD-Left arrow used as Back? There is backspace and CMD-[, so why another shortcut? Especially since I am used to navigate within textboxes with the handy OPT-left to jump across words or CMD-left to jump to the start of the line. I may be stupid or a slow learner, but I always get tricked into deleting all my textbox input by accidentally moving back in browser history when all I want is to jump to the start of the line. This is more than annoying. So, if anyone can tell me how to remove this shortct, I'd be very obliged.
2005-11-30 20:02:02
I like it
Its one thing for Camino not to *handle* RSS, its another thing for it not to recognize feeds at all. Camino simply pretends RSS doesnt exist; the least it can do is pass the feed on to your reader of choice!
2005-11-30 22:09:04
I like it
Although I have adopted FireFox over both Safari and Camino, there is one thing I like that keeps bringing me back to Camino: Speed. On older machines, FireFox Runs almost as fast as Safari. Camino does most pages almost twice as fast.

As far as RSS, I prefer RSS Menu over using Firefox's implementation. Then again, I'm crazy like that. :)

2005-12-02 13:03:11
Firefox 1.5
My take: