Opera hyped their Speed Dial feature before they announced what it was by saying that it was something that no other browser had. This got a lot of people thinking about what it could be, and when they finally revealed the details I wasn’t disappointed. After Opera 9.2 was released with the Speed Dial feature in full swing I knew it wouldn’t be long before a Firefox extension was created to do something similar.

The Speed Dial feature is a time saver because you can create up to 9 sites to be displayed as thumbnails whenever you create a new tab. In Opera if you click the refresh button while viewing the Speed Dial page it will refresh the thumbnails of all the tabs so that you can see if anything has changed since the last time you visited the sites.

The Firefox extension, cleverly called Speed Dial, tries to provide the basic functionality that Speed Dial in Opera offers. For starters here is what it looks like:

Firefox Speed Dial

It looks pretty close and serves a similar purpose, but it still lacks a lot of the things that makes Speed Dial great in Opera. Here are some things that you can do in Opera that you can’t do with this Firefox extension:

  • Drag around the thumbnails to rearrange the order of the sites.
  • Click on an unassigned spot to add a URL or bookmark.
  • Refresh the screenshots.
  • Have Speed Dial displayed each time you create a new tab. Well, you can do this in Firefox but it takes some extra work and another extension. With the right extension you can set your homepage to “chrome://speeddial/content/speeddial.xul” and have it opened each time you create a new tab. That’s quite a bit of extra work though.

In order to set a Speed Dial site with this Firefox extension you either have to add a toolbar button that is provided, or use the right-click menu entry that is available:

Firefox Speed Dial Menu

This has both its upsides and downsides. The upside is that you can quickly add whatever site your currently viewing to your Speed Dial, but the downside is that the sites always have to be added in this fashion. In Opera you can add sites straight from the Speed Dial page which is something I prefer to do.

This extension is still in the very early stages though so I would expect that it will get better over time. I am, however, surprised that it took this long for an extension like this to surface though.

Download the extension from the developer’s site
Download the extension from Mozilla (requires login for Sandbox mode)

Thanks for the tip Fox!