CyberNotes
Web Browser Wednesday

Are you one of those people who like to conserve every square inch of screen space when it’s possible? If so we have a treat for you today! We’re going to demonstrate how you can become the ultimate Firefox minimalist with the help of some extensions and themes. If you implement everything that we have listed below you’ll wonder where half of your browser has gone. You might also go cross-eyed… don’t say we didn’t warn you. ;)

–Themes–

compact firefox.pngThe first major step that a minimalist Firefox user takes is often in changing their theme. By choosing a more compact theme you can eliminate nearly any and all spacing found throughout Firefox, and the end result can save a lot of area in your browser.

The screenshot to the right shows the Classic Compact Firefox theme laid overtop of the classic theme. The double-ended arrows indicate how much space you save by simply applying this theme. There are a few other themes (like miniFox) that are similar, but Classic Compact is really the one that has won the hearts of minimalists around the globe.

–Toolbars & Menus–

There is a lot of “fat” that lies within the toolbars and menus in Firefox. The themes aim to take some pounds off the toolbars, but there are some extensions that can take the minimalist design to a whole new level:

  • Searchbar Autosizer [Homepage]
    Keep the browser’s search box small when it’s not being used. This will let you have a really small search box that expands as you type. That means your Address Bar gets even more room!
  • Faviconize Tab [Homepage]
    You’ll be able to double-click on a tab and have it collapsed down to only it’s icon. Now you won’t feel like such a pig when you have 40 different tabs open.
    faviconize tab.png
  • Personal Menu [Homepage]
    How often do you really use those menus (File, Edit, etc…) anyway? If it’s not very often you can stuff them into a single icon by using this extension. All of the menus will still be accessible, but they will just take an extra click to get to them.
  • Smart Bookmarks Bar [Homepage]
    If you’re not ready to give up your Bookmarks Bar then maybe this extension will help keep things a little more tidy. By default it will only show the icons for the sites located on the Bookmarks Bar, and then when you hover over them it will expand to show the name as well.
    smart bookmarks bar.png

–Status Bar–

I wouldn’t say that the Status Bar is the hugest space consumer, but hey, we’re trying to scrounge up every pixel that’s possible. Right? So we’ve got a few specialized styles and one extension that can clean up your Status Bar a little bit.

  • Mouseover for Clutter [Homepage] Requires Stylish
    This will hide the excessive number of icons that you probably have in the Firefox Status Bar, but they will reappear each time you hover over the bar. That way you’re not really losing any functionality, unless of course one of those icons also serves as some sort of notifier (such as a new mail notifier).
  • Autohide Status Bar [Homepage] Requires Stylish
    Get the Status Bar completely out of the way with this style. Once installed it will create an area that is just one pixel in height, and when you hover over that it will show the Status Bar.
  • autoHideStatusbar [Homepage]
    This is an extension that’s similar to how the previous style operates, except that it goes one step further. With this extension you can set it so that when you hover over hyperlinks it will show the Status Bar, which means you can still see where the links point to. The Status Bar can also be shown when the page is loading so that you can monitor the progress.
    Note: This extension is currently experimental, and you’ll need to login to your Mozilla account before downloading it.

–Overview–

I think you have a pretty good set of tools to work with so that you can be well on your way to becoming a Firefox minimalist. I’m sure many of you have trimmed down your Firefox in one way or another, and I would love to hear how you’ve managed to conserve space in Firefox! Shoot us a comment below with your thoughts.

There Are 18 Comments

  1. niiiiiiiiiiiiiice

  2. Great compilation! I’m personally disappointed that Smart Bookmarks Bar cannot be made to work with Fx3 easily. I hope the author will update it, but looking at his site, I have to expect the worst :(

    Offtopic:
    Since the forum doesn’t work.. a comment here. What happened to the site? It was down for several hours? Will you post an article about this?

  3. I’ve been using a minimalistic Firefox for a while now, I tend to use Tiny Menu over Personal Menu, and seeing as how I never use the bookmarks toolbar, I don’t display it, and I’ve moved all the navigation buttons up to the menu bar. This makes one bar all the time and save space on this 14.1 laptop monitor.

  4. Or just use FF 3 RC1 (for speed, search bar resizer is built in) and a 30″ LCD. I can’t imagine working without large LCD’s and the price has come down considerably…. And if you can’t afford 30″, do dual 24″ for about $600-700.

  5. One extension that really saves a lot of space, and makes Firefox minimal is Menu X available here: [markbokil.org]

    Try it on FX2, and after you install it hit F12 to see the difference.
    Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with FX3, and i don’t know if the author is still working on it.

  6. Hey check out my minimalistic firefox!!!

    [flickr.com]

    Those who want the configuration just ask!”!

  7. I have a 17″ monitor, so having a normal Firefox theme isn’t a problem. Having only barebone icons on my screen makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

    In order to avoid tedium, I rotate my FX’s normal themes every week. I think I’ll pass on the minimalist offer, Ryan.

  8. Change wrote:
    Great compilation! I’m personally disappointed that Smart Bookmarks Bar cannot be made to work with Fx3 easily. I hope the author will update it, but looking at his site, I have to expect the worst :(

    I think that once Firefox 3 is released it will draw the attention of the developers, and most extensions will probably get updated. If not someone will probably pickup on the project considering that they are all open source.

    Change wrote:
    Offtopic:
    Since the forum doesn’t work.. a comment here. What happened to the site? It was down for several hours? Will you post an article about this?

    Yup, our server apparently crashed around 9:30PM PST last night. Unfortunately I had visions of sugar plums dancing in my head at that time, and wasn’t able to have it rebooted until the morning. The crash also corrupted our forum’s database, which I was able to resolve shortly after the server was back up and running.

    Jeton wrote:
    One extension that really saves a lot of space, and makes Firefox minimal is Menu X available here: [markbokil.org]

    Try it on FX2, and after you install it hit F12 to see the difference.
    Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with FX3, and i don’t know if the author is still working on it.

    Huh, that’s a really interesting concept. Hopefully the developer will get it working on Firefox 3.

    xangua wrote:
    Hey check out my minimalistic firefox!!!

    [flickr.com]

    Very nice operating system theme!

    Omar Upegui wrote:
    I have a 17? monitor, so having a normal Firefox theme isn’t a problem. Having only barebone icons on my screen makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

    In order to avoid tedium, I rotate my FX’s normal themes every week. I think I’ll pass on the minimalist offer, Ryan.

    Minimalist themes definitely aren’t for everyone, and I’ve kinda grown out of them myself. Several years ago I was all about making things as tiny as they could be.

  9. I’ve been using the [google.com] for a while now – coupled with no forward and back buttons (because they vanished) and no search box (keyword searches ftw) my Firefox tends to stay fairly minimal. That compact fox theme just makes it looks rubbish though – spoils all the work of the new theme for about 40 pixels. Unless you’re on 800×600 on a 15″ screen I can’t really see a need.

  10. fission works great for nuking the status bar.

    Also, there’s a chrome hack that works exactly like smart bookmarks bar…

  11. Great article.

    Also great comments. Thanks for sharing knowledge on a compact way.

  12. “And if you can’t afford 30?, do dual 24? for about $600-700.”
    Yep, cause everyone has $600 to spend on 2 monitors.

    Seriously, dude, most people have better things to do with their money.

  13. My Version:

    [img205.imageshack.us]

    - Stop OR Reload Button
    - Tab ‘close button’ on hover
    - Removed Home button
    - Much more (and some tricks on userStyle disabled)
    - The ‘Tree icon’ is a webdeveloper toolbar button, disable/hide components, that I use to disable images. CSS button is also a webdeveloper toolbar button.

    On MouseOver on the left corner of address bar:

    [img389.imageshack.us]

    On MouseOut, it comes back to normal.

    Just using Stylish with userChrome tweaks.

  14. If you go here you can get Smart Bookmarks Bar that works with Firefox 3 RC1. [remy.juteau.free.fr]

  15. Great! Thanks Flamehaze! :D

  16. Flamehaze wrote:
    If you go here you can get Smart Bookmarks Bar that works with Firefox 3 RC1. [remy.juteau.free.fr]

    Very sweet… thanks!

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