Switching From Chrome: How to Make Firefox Feel Like Home
Firefox feels different from Chrome and there’s no denying it. Maybe you prefer the feel of Chrome but, for reasons we’ll soon explore, have decided that Firefox is the better browser for you. Is there anything you can do to make Firefox less of a foreign environment? Yes!
To be clear, these two browsers are fundamentally different and it isn’t possible to turn Firefox into a perfect clone of Chrome (the same holds true for the other way around). These are simply suggestions that will help to bridge that gap and ease the transition.
Why Make the Switch to Firefox?
I don’t want to start a browser war here. People will like what they like no matter how many arguments are set forth for one side or another. If you prefer Chrome, that’s no skin off my back. Stick with it and enjoy it. But if you’re on the fence between Chrome and Firefox, here are a few reasons that swayed me towards the latter.
This is the #1 argument for Firefox that no other major browser can claim. Because of its open source environment , you can rest assured that Firefox isn’t doing anything sneaky behind the scenes.
Plus, Firefox has no ulterior motives. It doesn’t profit from its users and there’s no big picture ecosystem that Firefox wants to tie into, whereas Google is ultimately driven by its underlying model based on advertisements. That alone grants credibility to Firefox’s stance on privacy .
Benchmarks change from year to year. Some people claim that Chrome is better. Others say the same for Firefox, yet others throw up their hands and concede that both are slow. As it turns out, poor browser performance is more often the user’s fault than the browser’s fault, but it’s also true that Chrome generally uses more resources than Firefox.
Chrome might feel faster at times, but that’s because it hogs more of the CPU. Thus, it’s not uncommon to see CPU spikes while using Chrome. On top of that, each tab in Chrome runs as its own process. This makes it so that one crashed tab doesn’t crash the entire browser, but the downside is that each tab needs a separate environment and consequently requires more RAM.
That being said, if Firefox ever feels slow for you, consider optimizing the browser with a few of these tricks.
The level of customization that’s possible with Firefox blows Chrome out of the water. While Chrome allows additional functionality through extensions, Firefox is far less restricted as far as what can be changed. This fact is why we can make Firefox feel more like Chrome in the first place.
Fast Import & Migration
The first thing anyone should do when switching from Chrome to Firefox is to transfer all of their browser data. This is known as migration and Mozilla has made it really easy to migrate between these two browsers. If you’re coming from elsewhere, such as Opera or Maxthon, it may not be this easy.
The Import Wizard can be accessed like so:
- Open the Bookmark Manager with Ctrl+Shift+B.
- Click on the Star icon in the top toolbar.
- Click Import Data from Another Browser.
- Select Chrome and click Next.
- Select all of the checkboxes and click Next.
- When migration is done, click Finish.
That’s it! At this point all of your cookies, browsing history, and bookmarks from Chrome should be in Firefox. The one other thing that you might want to transfer is active tabs. If you’re like me and you regularly have 20+ tabs open, a manual transfer might be more trouble than it’s worth.
For this we’d recommend installing Open With Firefox on your Chrome browser. The extension has one setting that you’ll need to set — the location of the Firefox executable on your system — and when that’s done, you can right-click on any active page and Open with Firefox to instantly transfer it over.
Complete Theme Makeover
For those who prefer the look of Chrome over Firefox, you’re in luck. Thanks to Firefox’s built-in support for “complete themes,” which radically alter the layout of the browser instead of simply reskinning it, you can make Firefox look almost identical to Chrome.
The trick is simple: a one-click installation of the FXChrome complete theme [No Longer Available].
Not only does it change the shape of the tabs to match Chrome’s interface, but it also reskins the window as a whole. There isn’t much more to say here. Give it a try and see if you like it. Chances are you will.
If you ever get bored of the Chrome look, I’d also recommend these complete themes that turn Firefox into competing browsers: MX3 and MX4 [No Longer Available] imitate Maxthon while FXOpera [No Longer Available] is pretty clear on which browser it copies.
Eliminate Tab Scrolling
One of the more jarring differences between Firefox and Chrome is the way tabs work. In Firefox, when you open too many tabs, the tab bar turns into a sort of carousel where you can scroll back and forth. On Chrome, the tabs simply shrink and never turn into a carousel.
While the exact functionality can’t be replicated in Firefox, you can achieve a very close imitation using the Small Tabs addon [No Longer Available]. Small Tabs provides a flexible width to Firefox tabs, allowing you to fit many more of them on the screen before the carousel appears.
How many tabs, you ask? In a 1920×1080 screen using the FXChrome theme mentioned above, I can open 50 tabs before the scrolling carousel appears. For most users, that should be more than enough.
If you know of any other addons that completely kill the carousel, please let us know in the comments!
How Do You Make Firefox Like Chrome?
Other improvements that can make Firefox feel more like Chrome include the Omnibar addon [No Longer Available], the Download Status Bar addon [No Longer Available], and the Private Tab addon [No Longer Available], all of which replicate some of the built-in designs of the Chrome browser.
Also, consider sprucing up the browser with some of the choices on our Best Firefox Addons compilation!
With all of these changes, you should be pretty happy. If not, tell us what’s bugging you in the comments below and we’ll see if there are any good workarounds available.