Either way, hiding parts of Firefox temporarily is a hard task to accomplish without the help of an addon. Thankfully there are now two new addons from the Mozilla Prospector project that accomplish this as well as extend the functionality of the Awesome Bar, which is already by itself pretty awesome.
Installing the two addons is very easy, as are any other addons for Firefox. Just go to the Firefox addons page, search for “AwesomeBar HD” and “LessChrome HD”, and install each one when you find it (or follow the links later on in this article). Don’t be pushed away by the “Experimental” label. Yes, they are still experimental, but my own testing has shown that they are very stable and work as advertised.
As a reference, here is a screenshot of my Firefox before the addons are installed:
LessChrome HD doesn’t have very much to it, but it does exactly what it is meant to do. After installing the addon, you’ll first notice that if you’re using Firefox 4 you won’t have to restart the browser. The addon takes advantage of the new functionality that comes with Firefox 4 in order to reduce the number of annoyances (find other restartless addons here). Therefore, after installation, you’ll find that most of the user interface suddenly disappears.
How do you bring back your buttons and Awesome Bar? Just mouse over your tabs and you’ll get them back! Move the mouse back over the page and the User Interface (UI) retracts once again, leaving only the title bar, Firefox menu button, and tabs. That’s all there really is to it!
You can see that when the UI reappears, it floats over the page rather than pushing it down to make room. The buttons at the top of the Google page and covered by the UI. The red box indicates where the Google buttons are slightly visible. Therefore, the Google buttons do not appear below the UI, but instead underneath.
You can hide your Awesome Bar now, but how about extending some of its abilities? There are a handful of addons that do a number of tricks with your Awesome Bar, such as automatically selecting the first result it returns. However, AwesomeBar HD extendeds the capabilities of your Awesome Bar in a different manner. Once you install the addon, you’ll be able to see the difference right away.
Instead of having a blank box, you’ll have a number of options to choose from before you even start typing. You can choose between searching on the web, or looking for specific items, such as books, movies, music, shopping, and more. Just click on one, start typing, and you’ll be doing a specialized search in no time. Also note that the separate search box on the right side is gone. Instead, the two boxes have combined in a Google Chrome-like Omnibar.
These two tools are a great addition for those who value screen space and enhanced functionality. It’s an ever greater advantage for those who enjoy a lean interface with powerful features that appear right when you need them. Overall, they’re a great combination that will hopefully make their way into Firefox as definite options for those who like them.
For browsers, is a lean interface a top priority for you? Will these addons possibly make you use Firefox if you don’t already? Do you think these addons are great in your experience? Let us know in the comments!