Is Firefox on Mac Unusable?

by Jeremy Jones

I'm running Firefox on my (relatively) new (intel) Mac. Problem is that Firefox locks up several times a day. I found a forum which suggested disabling the anti-phishing functionality. Several people seemed to have benefited from said disabling.

I also found a Bugzilla report about the same behavior. It sounds like the anti-phishing thing can cause some problems during startup, but is probably not responsible for hanging during regular browsing. My problem is not on startup, but on browsing, so disabling anti-phishing probably won't help me. But I've disabled it just on the off-chance that it will. If this hanging persists, I'll either switch to Opera or Safari.

What are your experiences with FF on Mac? Crashes, hangs? Or is your world just peachy?


2007-08-11 05:09:04
I've been using Firefox on a Macbook Pro for a little over 2 months, and haven't had any recurring problems. I'm sure it's hung on me once or twice, but that's to be expected.

For me, it crashes/hangs much more on Linux, but it usually seems related to some type of alternative media, like clicking on a PDF or a page with a bunch of Flash.

2007-08-11 05:17:35
Firefox on the Mac totaly sucks. I have constant GUI errors where tooltps of the UI and ALT tags show up when I switch back to Firefox. Since I have massive problems with inlined images.
2007-08-11 05:38:15
The only problem with FF i experience on my macbook pro (santa rosa) is the old one of when you get too many tabs open for too long you don't seem to be able to use the address box to go to websites anymore (The search box and using in-page links work). However, I get exactly the same thing on both my windows and kubuntu laptops (i do have an awful lot of tabs open most of the time so I'm probably asking for it)

It also does seem to crash occasionally but no more frequently than the linux version (from the ubuntu repos)

2007-08-11 06:44:03
Slow. Slow. Slow. I'm running on an older iBook, but still, Safari is easily four times faster to launch and twice as fast at page renders.
brian d foy
2007-08-11 06:49:28
I've recently swtiched back to Safari after using Firefox for years. I've had the problem with all text entry widgets (including the address bar) being locked up after a while, as well as random oddness that reminds me of the days of Navigator. This happens on both my Powerbook (a Firefox with no extensions installed) and MacBookPro (which had all sorts of things installed).

I do pull up Firefox to do some web development, but otherwise it's easier to live without the extra bells & whistles lately.

2007-08-11 06:58:01
Yep, using Firefox in Mac OS X is a painful experience. Flash hasn't worked in Firefox on my (many) machines for more than a year now, despite a long series of attempted fixes culled the Firefox lists, and elsewhere. In the last few months I've tried using Firefox to read gmail (and only to read gmail) due primarily to the excellent "Better gmail" add-on, but the sludge-like response of the browser and its frequent habit of "pausing for breath" makes even that simple usage relatively annoying. So it's back to Camino... (What other browser is rendered unusable between the time that you click a download and the time that the download actually begins? Yech...)
Shlomi Fish
2007-08-11 07:20:57
I've been getting frequent hangs with Firefox 2.0.0.x on Mandriva Linux Cooker. I don't recall such problematic behaviour in Firefox 1.5.0.x. Note that my default browser is Konqueror.
2007-08-11 07:49:29
Yep, it sucks big time. I use it as my primary development platform, mainly for Firebug, but have got used to restarting it 4 or 5 times a day.

The usual symptom is either the browser stops responding or the styles disappear from a page. If I restart it is ok for another couple of hours.

All in all, very disappointing!

Andy Lester
2007-08-11 09:31:36
I have only one problem with Firefox: The orphaned tooltips mentioned above. Other than that, no problems at all, and I've been using it since it first came out so I didn't need the weight of full Mozilla.
2007-08-11 10:25:46
I'm using on OS X 10.4.10 on my Intel Mac and other than it sometimes hanging with Flash (and it usually recovers quickly), I have no problems.
2007-08-11 10:37:45
It doesn't crash for me and I have 15 add-ons active. My guess is that you should use the tools that Apple provides to find out where it is hanging, i.e. ActivityMonitor -> Sample. Maybe you have something else on your computer that it doesn't play nicely with.
dc crowley
2007-08-11 10:38:48
I wish you were wrong. Firefox on the Mac is plain frustrating. I tried bon echo a Firefox optimized for the mac project. It is quicker, but I do web development, and it is not consistent with Firefox. Flock is the same in terms of speed, maybe even worse. It uses the same rendering engine. FF needs to get their act together. The situation is worse than a bad joke.
2007-08-11 10:44:53
I've got FF running on a mini with 10.4. It can flake out a bit when faced with heavy-duty Ajax (I suspect AdBlock Plus is the issue there, not Firefox itself), and I do have some issues with Flash, but otherwise it runs smoothly.
2007-08-11 10:56:48
My wife recently mentioned that FF was regularly crashing on her G4 Laptop; she's running
Bob Lee
2007-08-11 11:06:20
The problem is most likely slow DNS lookups. For some reason, Firefox stops everything during them. Use "Spin Control" an app in the Developer Tools to verify.
2007-08-11 11:14:38
From a pure browsing experience, never had a problem.

However it has terrible typehandling. when i do web-based email , or even just typing text into form, then try to edit the text, the screen doesn't update properly. i can't believe all the FF fans on Mac aren't all over that. Completely incompetent type handling.

OTOH, never have a problem with Safari.


2007-08-11 11:34:41
Since I started using a few days ago I have had to do a few force quits, Firefox for Mac does not seem to handle type well. I have had a few probs designing web pages that work on Firefox for Mac more so than for IE recently!
Dwight Silverman
2007-08-11 11:50:41
I don't have problems with Firefox on my C2D MacBook. But I primarily use Camino, which is lighter, faster and more Mac-like in its GUI. Camino has crashed on me occasionally, but no more than IE7 does on my Windows Vista desktop.

Tried Camino, Jeremy?

iMac Pr0n
2007-08-11 11:51:45
I've been using Firefox on my Core 2 Duo iMac since I got it last Thanksgiving. I've kept it up-to-date, so I'm currently running 2.0.6. I have very rarely had a problem with it that caused it to need to be killed, but it doesn't happen often enough to be a problem.
Faisal N. Jawdat
2007-08-11 11:54:26
The hanging may be related to memory fragmentation -- FF appears to have a giant memory leak that will eventually hang or crash the browser.

It's probably the second-best linux browser for Mac. The people who like it mostly seem to be into it for the plugins.

2007-08-11 12:00:30
The thing which irritaes me the most is when FF windows will not move around the screen with draging. They keep 'snapping' back to where I just moved them (or even closing or moving off screen or anywhere!). This is a real pain.

Also I cannot open a second (or more) window unless I have one on the desktop. If I only have FF windows in the dock I have to bring one of them up, open the new one and then send the one back to the dock.

These two issues alone mean I am on the point of dropping FF completely.

2007-08-11 12:11:56
Jeremy, I'm running FF on my brand new Intel Macbook Pro... 6 weeks into it and no issues whatsoever... Hope you can solve your issue.
2007-08-11 12:13:51
slow...leaks tons of memory, if i leave it open for a couple of days i'll get the spinwheel cursor any time i try to do anything with it.

also have occasionally had the text input fields not responding problem, but that's way less bothersome than the general slowness.

it's way faster on my linux machine, despite having more extensions installed.

Mark Evans
2007-08-11 12:14:19
I've experienced no problems using Firefox on a MacBook.
2007-08-11 12:41:43
I don't bother to run Firefox on my Mac. Sure, I have it installed in case I want to use something like the Google Toolbar (to e.g. check the pagerank), but I rarely do that.

Camino, which uses the same rendering engine as Firefox, is much much better as regards the UI. Don't forget that you can remap any menu entry (of any application) you want to your preferred key bindings through the Keyboard preferences panel (as you may not like the default keybindings if compared to Firefox). Try it ;-)

Liza Sabater
2007-08-11 13:19:23
I am running the latest version of FF on a powerPC powerbook and the thing crashes at least 4-5 times a day.
Jeremy M. Jones
2007-08-11 13:26:09
Wow. I guess I'm not the only one. I'm giving Camino a run right now. Well, I'm responding in FF, but only because I already had this up in FF. Thanks everybody for the posts. I'll keep reading your comments!

2007-08-11 13:27:50
I am using firefox evey day on a mac (10.4.9 intel) and it works just great.
dan pearson
2007-08-11 13:29:47
i have FF running on G4 tower and G4 PowerBook. i also run it on a unix box. i've used FF since it first came out. no problems w/ crashes or hangs, but ocassionally i'm left w/ what appears to be a blank text highlight. it goes away when an actual text is highlighted. FF is the "supported browser for MacOS" at work, so i use it to access web calendar, databases and stuff like that. i actually prefer and use Safari for most operations, but MacOS platforms are a small minority and IT wants to support as few browsers as possible, so FF gets their support. (IE for Windows gets most of their support)
so, no, FF on MacOS is not unusable, i do it every day.
2007-08-11 13:38:42
I've experience the opposite.

I've had no crashes, and no other problems with Firefox. I cannot say the same about Safari. For example, with Safari I cannot access my major company brokerage account(asks me to logon again many times) but I can with Firefox. I'm using an iMac Intel Core 2 Duo.

Does anyone know how many Mac Firefox vrs Safari users there are? Actual user numbers may be a better indication of Firefox's reliability and satisfaction.

2007-08-11 13:41:05
I've never had Firefox crash on me in the total of a few dozen hours during which I've used it. However, in my opinion it is so un-Maclike as to be unusable. Even simple Mac conventions such as moving to the beginning/end of a text field when pressing up-arrow/down-arrow, are not respected.

Camino is a far better choice with the same rendering engine as Firefox. Unless you need the plug-in architecture, this is a no-brainer.

Chris T
2007-08-11 13:58:22
Thought it was just me. Was relatively crash-free until (possibly previous version), but has become very unstable in the past couple of weeks. Also having a problem with Firebug (possibly unrelated) which is not showing XMLHttpRequests, even though the option is selected (works if I toggle the option off and on just before making a request)
Michael Geary
2007-08-11 14:19:15
Firefox locks up on Windows the same way. Check the memory usage when it slows down or locks up. It will probably be in the hundreds of megabytes.

Do you use Firebug? One thing that will help quite a bit: Instead of having Firebug enabled for all sites, *disable* it and then enable it only for the specific sites you want to use it on. Firebug can leak a lot of memory.

2007-08-11 14:32:03
I found this on my Intel Macbook. When I first got it FF could lock up several times a day. The problem has virtually vanished since I upgraded from 512MB to 2GB ram and now only occurs when it's either been running for several days with lots (20+) tabs or has a JS/plugin intensive page.
2007-08-11 15:06:10
Firefox on OS X just sucks. If you want a non-webkit browser, Camino is a much better answer.

Even if it didn't hang constantly, it is just too ugly to deal with on a regular basis

2007-08-11 15:06:18
Firefox on OS X just sucks. If you want a non-webkit browser, Camino is a much better answer.

Even if it didn't hang constantly, it is just too ugly to deal with on a regular basis

Scott Fannen
2007-08-11 15:35:12
Just to be contrary - mine is quite good. I'd prefer the fit and finish of Safari but *it* lock up badly on video pages and doesn't seem to multi-thread tabs. Firefox also lets me access Yahoo's Mail Beta (a very good product) and use Google Browser Sync (to sync my bookmarks between home and work). It's not perfect but Safari is the lock up king - Firefox just looks a little ugly for me.
Tom B
2007-08-11 16:02:17
I used to LOVE Firefox-- all the way from v.0.98. But I tried FF 2 on my wife's Intel MacBook and it was beyond horrible-- super slow, buggy, crash prone. I had to down grade her. I refuse to try it on my G4 Mini.

FF 2 for Win XP seems to be fine, or at least "as good as it gets" on Windows, software-wise.

2007-08-11 16:20:28
Firefox sucks on Mac Intel. Daily crashes on my iMac, would love to use Safari but I can't deal with their bookmark system. Why full page view for bookmarks?

Hoping the Firefox team have a huge update in the pipes for us Mac users.

2007-08-11 16:22:36
Try Camino. Camino 1.5 runs well for me on PPC. A pal of mine who prefers FF to Camino has been irritated of late with FF issues. He's still trying Camino once in a while. When I'm on his production machines showing off websites to clients using Camino, the clients are always impressed by Camino's uncluttered look, and solid rendering of nearly all websites.

Trunk and branch nightlies usually are stable enough for daily use. OTOH, when a bug appears in a nightly, it will hork your browsing experience. I've found them to be pretty stable, but YMMV. Should you try a trunk or branch nightly, be aware they could blow up and make an ugly mess.

Even so, Camino positively rocks for a web-browsing experience. It browses the web without a great deal of fuss or muss, and doesn't try to be all things to all people.

Simon Hibbs
2007-08-11 16:39:31
I deal with this by disabling auto-update. If everything`s fine I stick with that version for a while, if I have problems I wait for the next update. Rinse and repeat.

I started doing this because auto-updates I had no choice about frequently broke my extensions. You simply cannot trust the Mozilla guys to maintain backwards compatibility or stability, but have to do your own update testing and change management. They really need to get more professional.

mister jason
2007-08-11 17:18:58
Since people with a negative experience are always much more likely to post, I thought I should add mine. I have nothing but positive things to say about FF on Mac. I'm a developer and run FF on a MacBook Pro. It's snappy and rock solid.

It seems like a handful of extensions/add-ons invariably aggravate any memory leak issues. I generally keep extensions to a minimum on my laptop anyway. Usually only things like firebug, faviconize, foxmarks, and a couple of google maps-related context extensions.

FF does get finicky if left running with a load of tabs, ajax-driven pages that are updating a lot, etc. But this isn't unique to mac. I find that my usual number of browser restarts keeps things in check by itself (1-2x daily).

2007-08-11 17:22:50
I find I need to restart Firefox on any one of my several Macs about once a week when I'm heavily using it (it starts getting sloooow).

Under normal usage though it works just great. I haven't seen a crash since 1.x. I've also noticed that Safari seems faster but Firefox has so many more features and extensions that it's still the best choice.

2007-08-11 17:47:57
Bottom line... firefox sucks on macosx for most users. No easy solutions at this point
Roy Kroll
2007-08-11 17:52:21
Have you tried Camino 1.5? I'm curious if you would have the same problem. Firefox 2 is slow on my Power PC based iBook 900 also, but I attributed that to the fact that I use a lot of plug-ins. I have since tried Camino 1.5 which is exclusive to the Mac OS but uses the same Gecko engine as Firefox. Wow! What a difference. But, again, I don't have an Intel-based Mac. I would be interested to hear your experiences with Camino if you've tried it.

2007-08-11 17:57:56
@Michael Geary,

No - I'm not using Firebug. The only plugins I'm using are FlashBlock, FoxyProxy, and UA Switcher. Oh - and my FF doesn't need help hogging the memory. It was getting in the 100MB+ range daily. Sometimes upwards of 300MB or more.

2007-08-11 17:59:02

I just upgraded from 1GB to 3GB on my MacBook. Hopefully this isn't a resource issue.

2007-08-11 18:02:39
I think I may have a similar problem. My FF freeze during browsing. It does it at least 2 or 3 times a day. Very annoying. Sometimes it doesn't freeze but stop getting part of the webpages I'm browsing (most of the time it skips the CSS file...).
Jeremy M. Jones
2007-08-11 18:05:12
Michael and Stu,

Those comments were from me. I actually just switched over to Camino to test it out and forgot to put in my name and website... I'm so used to not entering it in there....

Declan M
2007-08-11 18:16:22
It's incredibly frustrating using FF on Mac. It crashes 4-5 times a day for me. I think it's a Flash problem. Visiting instantly freezes the browser and I have to kill it. I love it for the plug-ins but i'm considering switching to Opera.