The world is divided into two – Firefox users and Chrome users. Well, OK, this might be a wild exaggeration, but Firefox and Chrome are without a doubt the most popular browsers among anyone who’s just a little bit tech savvy, and definitely among MakeUseOf readers. For me, the choice between Firefox and Chrome is a ongoing dilemma, and I end up switching my main browser about once or twice a year.
As you’ve probably experienced yourself, when you get used to a browser, no matter the annoyances, there are certain features that really grow on you. Features you feel you cannot do without, and are keeping you from switching to a different browser. For me, after a year of using only Chrome, there were several such features that I sorely missed when I finally went back to Firefox. Luckily, there are some awesome add-ons that make it all possible, by giving Firefox that small yet necessary Chrome flavor.
Private Browsing Windows [No Longer Available]
Is there anything more annoying than Firefox’s private browsing mode? I will never understand why the smart Mozilla developers, who I’m absolutely a fan of, decided to make private browsing so clunky and inconvenient to use. While in Chrome you can hit Ctrl+Shift+N to open a new incognito window alongside your regular session, in Firefox a private browsing session takes over your regular session. When you start a private session, your regular windows and tabs disappear, and you’re left with only the private browsing window. Want to use those other tabs? Say goodbye to your private browsing window. Annoying? To say the least.
To the rescue comes a useful add-on by the name of Private Browsing Windows. This add-on does not give you the full Chrome incognito functionality, but gives you a workaround that is almost like using the real thing.
Private Browsing Windows uses Firefox’s ability to open concurrent windows from different profiles, and uses a “private” profile to open a private browsing session without closing your regular one. When you want to start browsing privately, click the add-on’s icon. The first time you do this, Firefox’s profile selector will pop up, prompting you to choose a profile. If you prefer, you can have this window pop up every time you use the add-on, but you can also create a new profile from this window, and call it “private” (all lower-case).
Once you have a profile named “private”, clicking the Private Browsing Windows icon will automatically open a new window for that profile, in private browsing mode. Yes, it’s a different profile, but it’s almost like Chrome, and much better than the default.
Moveable Firefox Button [No Longer Available]
You may find this amusing, but there’s one thing that really annoys me about the newer versions of Firefox – the huge orange Firefox button way up there on the left side. After using Chrome for quite a while, I got very used to my handy wrench button. I liked its size, I liked its location, I liked everything about it. So before I could commit myself to Firefox again, I had to find a solution to this orange atrocity.
The solution I found is the elegant Moveable Firefox Button. This simple add-on turns the big Firefox button into a much smaller one, bearing only the Firefox icon, and lets you decide where you want to put it. For me, the obvious spot was the far right side of the toolbar, where Chrome’s wrench button is, but you can put it anywhere you’d like. Problem solved!
Multiple Tab Handler
This one handles a feature that for some reason is still missing from Firefox – multiple tab handling. First, let me confess. I have a tab problem. I’m addicted to multiple tabs. No matter what I do, I find myself with dozens of open tabs, which I tend to spread over 2-4 browser windows. Back when I was using Chrome, I could easily handle and move multiple tabs by selecting all of them with the Control button held down, and then dragging them around to a different window. This cannot be done in Firefox.
To fix this, I’ve recently found Multiple Tab Handler. This add-on lets you select multiple tabs, and perform various actions on a group of several tabs. You can set the Control button to toggle selected tabs, and then drag them around to a different window.
If you want, you can also use the add-on on a group of tabs to close, reload, copy, pin/unpin, bookmark and more. I still can’t believe this does not exist in Firefox natively.
I love Firefox and use it regularly because I genuinely prefer it over Chrome. That being said, both browsers are imperfect, and both have some great features going for them. If all else fails and you simply must view a page in Chrome, check out How To Open & Switch Any Webpage From Firefox To Chrome (And Vice Versa) Quickly.
What other Chrome features do you miss in Firefox, and how do you solve it? Or maybe there are Firefox features you’re missing in Chrome? Or Opera features you’re missing in both? Tell us all about it!