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maximize screen space firefoxScreen space is always a hot topic for the designers of a web browser. In fact, some users consider screen space as valuable as gold itself, especially on today’s smaller netbook displays. While the extra screen space may be reason enough for some people to hide parts of their browser, others might like to do it just to make the browser appear smaller and out of the way.

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.

Installation

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.

Features

As a reference, here is a screenshot of my Firefox before the addons are installed:

maximize screen space firefox

LessChrome HD

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 5 Of Firefox 4's Best Restartless Add-Ons 5 Of Firefox 4's Best Restartless Add-Ons Firefox 4 was released recently and it has been downloaded nearly 50 million times. One of the main reasons for this is because of all the great add-ons. One great thing about Firefox 4 is... Read More ). Therefore, after installation, you’ll find that most of the user interface suddenly disappears.

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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!

firefox screen space

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.

firefox screen space

AwesomeBar HD

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.

maximize screen space firefox

Conclusion

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!

  1. Gzymsiu
    June 8, 2011 at 10:57 am

    The best solution you may achieve without any addons, just press F11

  2. Tinny
    June 6, 2011 at 12:19 am

    Ignore previous comment, my menubar items are back!

  3. Tinny
    June 5, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    I have a MacBook Pro.  Having installed LessChrome HD, the Firefox menubar menus are no longer clickable ...

  4. Abel Abel
    June 3, 2011 at 7:07 am

    i can't belive that firefox's  interface  is the same with chrome  browser's .i want a browser that different with chrome ....should i choice avant browser or opera as my default browser ?

  5. Sahil Dave
    June 2, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    For Google Chrome, if you are using a widescreen monitor or a laptop, you can use "Side Tabs".
    To activate:
    1. Type about:flags in Chrome's address bar.
    2. Enable "Side Tabs", hopefully the first item on the list.
    3. Right click on the open tab and click "Use Side Tab".

    You may take sometime to get used to it, but its worth it. As, i guess, no website uses Widescreen resolution for displaying the data, a lot of space is wasted on the sides. You can utilize it well and also get an extra centimeter of vertical space for browsing.

    Its worth trying!!!

    • Joshua
      June 3, 2011 at 1:18 am

      Side Tabs in Chrome would actually be good if the address bar was thrown into the title bar which is just taking up space currently. It would also be nice to choose the side (left / right) you want them on as well as the width. Other than that I like their look in comparison to Firefox's Tree Style Tabs addon and Vertical Tabs addon.

  6. Joshua
    June 2, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I would use the Awesome Bar HD if I could make the lists myself and customize the categories. I don't use all the most popular sites they have listed. It would be neat to basically have categorized bookmarks listed in the address bar however...

  7. Joshua
    June 2, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    An important note for those who are concerned about safety when using LessChrome to hide your address bar. Mozilla didn't forget about phishing concerns. The address bar is unhidden when a password field is active. So don't be quick to say this is insecure, try it out first.

  8. el tio ska
    June 2, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Really cool :o)

    Installed lesschrome HD on FF4 and Aurora and am loving it. Any similar extension for Chrome? Did a quick search but couldn't find one :'(

    Don't think I'll need awesome bar, though it sure looks cool. Am using Omnibar, which already joins the address bar and search box, in the style of Google Chrome.

    Cheers for the article, great as usual.

    • el tio ska
      June 2, 2011 at 7:12 pm

      UPDATE: found this article which explains an experimental addon that so far works only in Chrome Canary and Chrome Web Dev. Tried it on Chrome Canary. Works fine :o)

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