How To Tweak Firefox 2.0 Beta 1

Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 is scheduled for release on Tuesday but there are some things that I want to show you before you start using it. Things like removing the red “X” from each tab or maybe only placing a red “X” on the current tab. I will also show you how to prevent the scrolling tab-bar which is a feature that I am not too fond of. I have broken the page up into sections so if a section doesn’t interest you just skip to the next one.




 
 
–Spell Checker–
 
Firefox Spell Check

This first one isn’t really a tweak but the spell checking feature has been in place since the Alpha 2 milestone and it has been loved ever since. As soon as you start to type into a textbox it will start spell checking. If it finds that you have made a mistake it will notify you by placing a red-squiggly line underneath the word. For those people that are constantly commenting on forums or are writing posts you will find this to be a priceless feature! It should be standard with all Web browsers.

 
 
–Session Restore–
Firefox Spell Check

The Session Restore feature in Firefox 2 has also been around since the Alpha 2 build. Now it can not only restore your session after your system crashes but it will also restore your session if you have to restart after installing extensions or after upgrading Firefox (maybe those Windows Updates wouldn’t be such a pain if Microsoft restored your session after restarting Windows :) ). However, I like to have it always restore my session and this is how you make it restore your session everytime you restart Firefox:

Update:
In Firefox 2 Beta 2 all you have to do is go the the Options and in the Startup drop-down menu select “Show my windows and tabs from last time.”
  1. Start Firefox.
  2. In the Address Bar type “about:config” and press Enter.
  3. Right-Click and select New->Boolean.
  4. A box requesting the Preference Name will popup and you should enter “browser.sessionstore.resume_session” (without the quotes). Press OK to continue.
  5. Select “True” from the box and press OK again.

 
 
Undo Close Tab And Scrolling Tab-bar–Undo Close Tab and Scrolling Tabs–
The Undo Close Tab feature is very handy and I have already used it several times. It doesn’t just remember your last closed tab either like most people think that it does. You can keep selecting the Undo Close Tab option from the right-click menu and it will keep reopening previously closed windows. This option can be found in several different extensions but it is always nice to have the features built-in.

The scrolling tabs are very irritating because Mozilla thought it would be a good idea to prevent the tabs from getting microscopic in size and instead make them scroll. Unfortunately their design is a little flawed, in my opinion, because on my 1280×800 widescreen laptop I can only fit about 10 tabs before it will start scrolling. Boy is that frustrating! Don’t worry though because there is a way that you can adjust the minimum width of a tab before it starts to scroll. Please note that there are two different options below that you can adjust. The tabMinWidth option is the minimum width of the tab before the tabs start to scroll. The tabClipWidth is the minimum size a tab must be in order to display the Red "X" that is used to close the tab.

  1. Start Firefox.
  2. In the Address Bar type “about:config” and press Enter.
  3. Right-Click and select New->Integer.
  4. A box requesting the Preference Name will popup and you should enter “browser.tabs.tabMinWidth” (without the quotes). Press OK to continue.
  5. Select a the minimum value that you want for the width of the tabs (I set mine to 0 and the default value is 125). Then press OK again.
  6. Right-Click and select New->Integer.
  7. A box requesting the Preference Name will popup and you should enter “browser.tabs.tabClipWidth” (without the quotes). Press OK to continue.
  8. I also set this value to 0 but you may choose whatever minimum you would like. The default value is 115. Then press OK again.

 
 
–Red X (Close Button)–
Some people were frustrated that Mozilla added a close button to every tab which resulted in an extension that removed those close buttons. Well, you no longer need to get an extension to remove those pesky X’s, in fact there are multiple options that you can do now: display a close button on the active tab only, display close buttons on all tabs, don’t display any close buttons, and display a single close button at the end of the tab strip (Firefox 1.x behavior). Here is how you can customize the placement:

  1. Start Firefox.
  2. In the Address Bar type “about:config” and press Enter.
  3. Right-Click and select New->Integer.
  4. A box requesting the Preference Name will popup and you should enter “browser.tabs.closeButtons” (without the quotes). Press OK to continue.
  5. Now you need to select the type of close button you want: 0 – display a close button on the active tab only, 1 – display close buttons on all tabs, 2 – don’t display any close buttons, and 3 – display a single close button at the end of the tab strip (Firefox 1.x behavior). After entering the value corresponding to your preference press OK again.

 
 
–Adding More Feed Readers–
 
Firefox Feeds

The built-in feed reader can be quite useful but the current list of default sites are limited to Bloglines, Google Reader, and My Yahoo. However, if you use another service there might just be hope for you! I will give an example for adding NetVibes to the current list of default sites but this can be done for other sites as well, but you will have to figure out the correct string that is needed for Step 11. Also, if you want to add more than just one more feed reader you will have to increment the value of 3 to 4 and so on (located in Steps 4, 7, and 10). The values 0, 1, and 2 are already taken by the three default readers.

  1. Start Firefox.
  2. In the Address Bar type “about:config” and press Enter.
  3. Right-Click and select New->String.
  4. A box requesting the Preference Name will popup and you should enter “browser.contentHandlers.types.3.title” (without the quotes). Press OK to continue.
  5. Enter in the name of the feed reader. In this example enter in NetVibes. Press OK again.
  6. Right-Click and select New->String.
  7. A box requesting the Preference Name will popup and you should enter “browser.contentHandlers.types.3.type” (without the quotes). Press OK to continue.
  8. Enter in “application/vnd.mozilla.maybe.feed” (without the quotes). This value will always be the same no matter which service you are adding. Press OK again.
  9. Right-Click and select New->String.
  10. A box requesting the Preference Name will popup and you should enter “browser.contentHandlers.types.3.uri” (without the quotes). Press OK to continue.
  11. Enter in “http://www.netvibes.com/subscribe.php?url=%s” (without the quotes). This value is dependent on the feed reader you are adding. Notice that the %s is used to present the URL of the feed that you want to add to the feed reader. Press OK again.

Well, I hope that I have helped you out so that you will have the best experience that you can with the new Firefox 2.0 Beta 1 that is scheduled for release on Tuesday. There is currently the Firefox 2 Beta 1 Release Candidate available to download for those impatient people. If you are worried about messing up your current profile then maybe you should download the Portable version that I have put together. When the Official Firefox 2 Beta 1 gets released I might write-up a review and provide some screenshots.

A lot of credit for this information goes to the smart people in the Firefox Builds Forum that are constantly figuring out ways to customize the latest versions of Firefox. The things that I have mentioned here are located in various places throughout the forums and I normally just jot down quick notes as I find these cool settings.

Note: The new Preferences screen that was expected for Beta 1 has been delayed to Beta 2.