The Firefox Mini Review – A Fresh Look At a Familiar Browser

Tina Sieber 08-01-2013

firefox miniFirefox took browsing to a whole new level. It offered a stable, open source, cross-platform browser with innovative features, such as tabs, extensions, and find as you type search. Granted, many of its features weren’t original ideas of the Mozilla Foundation. Nevertheless, Firefox introduced them to the masses, and meanwhile many features have been adopted by other browsers, demonstrating how much this browser has changed the game.


When Chrome was released, Firefox slowly lost market share. It was an old beast, struggling with performance issues. The unexpected competition pushed Firefox to return to old strengths and it has since been catching up. Firefox continues to be a unique, reliable, and progressive browser, not least thanks to its huge active user base.

Are you curious to see Firefox with fresh eyes? This brief review highlights some of Firefox’ great features and recaptures why it remains one of the best.

Firefox In Its Own Words

A better browser. For the greater good.

The Native Fox

The first tab you see when you open a native Firefox profile contains the above video. The second tab is the Firefox’ default home page. You may never see this because you restore a session every time you launch Firefox or maybe you have added a custom home page. The default start page contains shortcuts to everything that makes Firefox outstanding.

Firefox’ native home page contains shortcuts to your Downloads, the Bookmarks manager, your browsing History, Add-ons, Sync, and Settings. And if you left tabs open during your previous session, you will also see a Restore Previous Session option in the bottom right.


firefox mini

Note that you won’t see the native home page in case you set a custom home page. Find an explanation how to reset the home page here.

You can access all of these features via the orange Firefox control button in the browser’s top left.

firefox mini browser


Or click the [ALT] button on your keyboard to temporarily view the classic menu bar.

firefox mini browser

3 Reasons Why People Hang On To Firefox

The reasons why so many people still love Firefox and hang on to it are many. For some it’s pure sentiment. Others may share Firefox’ vision of an open source software, built based on the users’ needs. For some Firefox is more stable than other browsers. Many don’t like or trust Google or other corporations offering free browsers. The hardcore fans, however, stay for particular features, often implemented via extensions that no other browser offers. Let’s have a look at a few of those features.

1. Master Password

If you are the type of person who allows the browser to store usernames and passwords, you should switch to Firefox. It offers a master password to protect your privacy.


To activate your master password, click the orange Firefox button in the top left, select Options and switch to the Security tab. Check the box next to Use a master password and set your password.

firefox mini browser

To get even more secure, try these 5 Firefox Addons For Serious Password Management Get Secure: 5 Firefox Addons For Serious Password Management Read More .

2. Vertical Tabs

The screenshots above reveal that natively, Firefox uses horizontal browser tabs in the same style as Google Chrome. Hardcore users crave vertical tabs. This isn’t a native feature, but it’s available as a browser extension.


Open the Firefox Add-ons Manager and search for vertical tabs in the top right search bar. Choose from one of the many results and enjoy the new feature.

mini browser

Find a selection of the best extensions on our Best Of Firefox Addons page The Best Firefox Addons Firefox is famous for its extensions. But which addons are the most useful? Here are the ones we think are best, what they do, and where you can find them. Read More .

3. Firefox Sync

Many of Firefox greatest features were originally available as extensions only. The session manager How To Make The Most of Firefox's Session Manager Restoring browser sessions was a milestone in browser development. Meanwhile, all browsers offer this feature to some extent. Firefox allows you to restore previous windows and tabs, but it doesn't come with an elaborate session... Read More or managing tabs Organize Firefox With These Superb Tab Management Tools Multiple tabs are a common reality to modern web browsing. It doesn't take long at all before you have a good number of tabs open, and that's natural. However, despite the great convenience that tabs... Read More are a good example, and so is Sync. With today’s mobile lifestyle, where people access the Internet via a host of different devices, syncing has become essential. Other browsers offer it, but Firefox does it equally well and may be easier to trust.

Go to Firefox Options and switch to the Sync tab. Click Set Up Firefox Sync in case you have not used it before. Log into your account or create a new one. Once you are logged in, complete the setup by picking what you would like to sync. You can choose from Add-ons, Bookmarks, Passwords, Preferences, History, and Tabs.

firefox mini


Firefox isn’t a naturally minimalistic browser like Chrome, but if you keep the tabs and extensions at bay, it can be. Some features still need to evolve to a level where they become intuitive to use, such as the profile manager How To Use Firefox Profiles & Run Multiple Firefox Profiles At Once Firefox stores your browser data – bookmarks, history, preferences, extensions, and everything else – in a directory known as a profile. Each user account has a single profile by default, but you don’t have to... Read More . Nevertheless, Firefox remains a living and hopefully thriving legend.

Why do you hang on to Firefox?

Related topics: Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Howard Dully
    April 15, 2013 at 6:09 am

    I have used Firefox for a couple of years now, it is quite versatile and you can set it up the way you like your browser to be,

  2. ross capp
    January 9, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Two feature i love & can't find on chrome:
    - find as you type search
    - tab groups (ctrl-shift-e)

    • Tina
      January 9, 2013 at 9:29 pm

      Did you ever try to hit CTRL+F in Chrome and start typing?

      I use the TabGroups Manager extension, so the tab groups shortcut is extra useful. Good one!

  3. Collin Hoffman
    January 9, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    Firefox can be made very minimalist with a couple of tweaks. Tabs on top is a great start, but I've also done a couple other things. the Movable Firefox Button addon allows you to move the button (obviously) anywhere on the toolbars. I put it to the right of the address bar. Another thing that I'm surprised browsers don't do by default is to put the bookmarks toolbar icons in the same toolbar as the navigation controls (making sure to delete the bookmark text, leaving just the icon. I also checked the "Use small icons" option and made a custom CSS script to hide unused navigation buttons. The final result can be seen here: [Broken Link Removed]

    • Tina Sieber
      January 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm

      Thanks for the tips, Collin! Would love to see your result, but unfortunately the link isn't working. It says the file doesn't exist. Can you try again?

      • Collin Hoffman
        January 9, 2013 at 6:42 pm

        Sorry about that.
        [Broken Link Removed]

        • Tina Sieber
          January 9, 2013 at 7:29 pm

          Looks almost like Chrome. I like how bookmark flavicons are positioned next to the URL bar.

        • Collin Hoffman
          January 16, 2013 at 2:25 pm

          That's kind of what I was going for. I like the layout of Chrome but not some of the styling of it.

    • Collin Hoffman
      January 16, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      I forgot to mention that the CSS script also sets a minimum width for the current tab so that the page title can and sometimes additional information can be read even when there are lots of tabs open.

  4. dragonmouth
    January 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I've been using Firefox on my Windows and Linux PCs since it was introduced by Mozilla as Phoenix. I use it because it works and I am used to it. I see no point in going through learning a new browser when I don't have to. When FF starts giving me problems, I will switch. While I do use add-ons and extension, it's only a few. Many users complain that FF is slow and bloated. That's what happens when you use 30,40, 50 or more extension.

    • Tina Sieber
      January 9, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      Well, I think it's good to use a second browser next to your default because if things do go bad, you have an instant alternative and don't need to start from scratch. You'll also notice much faster when and where things go bad if you use two browsers in parallel. It's quite the reality check.

      I agree about addon bloat. I have stripped Firefox down to only the addons I can't live without, which really helps with performance. If only I could be this disciplined with open tabs. :)

  5. Andy Bristow
    January 9, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Started off using Firefox but went over to using Waterfox 18mths ago and have never gone back. The downside to Waterfox is that its not updated as regular as Firefox.

    • Tina Sieber
      January 9, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      What do you like about Waterfox, Andy?

  6. druv vb
    January 9, 2013 at 7:24 am

    Firefox is and will be. It was the first browser I installed when Internet Explorer went stray. Then came Opera, which is really good. Chrome which is really fast. But Firefox has a native feel to certain tasks that others can match. Though its resource intensive and leaks memory, there' something else to it. Keep going Mozilla.

  7. Tug Ricks
    January 9, 2013 at 6:44 am

    Honestly, I think I use Firefox because it's a non-profit, and it isn't overly motivated by profits and data mining. Is it as good as Chrome? Eh. But it works well enough, and I feel like I'm helping out the proverbial "little" guy.

    • Tina Sieber
      January 9, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      It's one of the aspects I find attractive about Firefox as well. My heart goes out to people who pour their heart in projects for the love of it, not for the money.

  8. Junil Maharjan
    January 9, 2013 at 5:48 am

    Firefox Sync has saved me so many times.

  9. Zhong Jiang
    January 9, 2013 at 4:07 am

    Firefox is the best browser before Chrome hit the spotlight, and I'm still supporting it. Despite Chrome growing dominance.

  10. Van Vanix
    January 8, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    There are a lot of reasons why I like Firefox and its far different from other browsers, you may find satisfaction just like what I feel.

  11. Sean Davis
    January 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Firefox is (and always has been) one of the greatest browsers. It renders things more reliably than any other browser and is still very fast. Firefox Sync is amazing on its own, and the extensions are worth your while.

    And then, about:config.

  12. Esteban
    January 8, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    I still use firefox because of the extensions / add-ons. There are many valuable add-ons that can only be found in firefox.

    • Michael Greene
      January 8, 2013 at 9:22 pm

      I'm right there with you. Almost everybody I know has gone to Chrome, but I can't leave my add-ons behind.

  13. Vipul Jain
    January 8, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    lol, i thought FF launched a mini version of it's browser and I was like, "How did I not know" :P
    Though on topic, I prefer chrome since I have an android device and it's easier to keep my bookmarks synced, also it's more resource friendly than FF.

    • Florin Ardelian
      January 8, 2013 at 6:28 pm

      Yeah, the title is very misleading and it's what brought me here. I was also expecting to find a "mini" version of Firefox. I hope it was just an accident.

      • Tina Sieber
        January 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm

        I didn't mean the title to be misleading. Sorry for the confusion, Florin!

        • Florin Ardelian
          January 9, 2013 at 4:04 pm

          I come here for the facts, because I'm fed up with sensationalist websites which become more and more like Slashdot and they are nothing more than a waste of time. I'm sick and tired of wasting my time reading articles only to come to the conclusion that they were written just to get more ad clicks, even if that meant blatantly lying.

          I'm happy to say that, until now, MUO has been my go-to website for getting the facts, with well written articles that are easy to understand. I get a warm, fuzzy feeling when I see that the writers focus on content quality and get involved with their readers.

          Keep up the good work, guys!

        • Tina Sieber
          January 9, 2013 at 4:13 pm

          Thank you for your feedback, Florin!

    • Ben Klaas
      January 8, 2013 at 8:01 pm

      The first point on chrome is a bit of a mislead, as Firefox has been available on Android for some time. It was my go-to for quite a while on Android, though on that platform I've moved to the speedy Dolphin browser.

      • Vipul Jain
        January 9, 2013 at 8:16 am

        Actually I'm into flashing every other custom ROMs, so it's easier for me to just enter my Google details and get my Chrome bookmarks instantly on the default browser.
        Whereas on FF I need to first reinstall/restore FF and then sync.

    • Tina Sieber
      January 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Sorry for the confusion everyone! This was one of five suggested titles and apparently the one that appealed most to the editor. I called it 'mini review' because it's a short and sweet review.

      • Vipul Jain
        January 9, 2013 at 5:35 pm

        Of course we know it wasn't intentional! :)

  14. Ben Klaas
    January 8, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    I like Firefox for a number of reasons, but the most important one for me without a doubt is Firebug. It's the single greatest web development debugger I've ever used.

    Honorable mention: password management, sync, good native debugging (the 3D DOM viewer they added recently is sweet), Greasemonkey, excellent tab management, rendering engine is super fast, javascript and css support are typically cutting edge, it's not made by Google, Apple or Microsoft, it IS made by Mozilla, who are a really important player in web standards, it has a huge and excellent set of add-ons.

    I have Chrome or Chromium installed on most of the machines I touch, but it's Firefox I typically open first.

  15. Paul H. Rubin
    January 8, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Two extensions not available on Chrome: Tab Mix Plus and Informenter. Neither of these is available on Chrome and I really love them both.