The following is a list of some salient features:
• Streamline look for tabs and menu bar, and improved ability to switch tabs from the address bar, and have app tabs.
• Firefox menu access is now through the Firefox button above the tab bar.
• Tab management features built-in for drag and drop tab groups.
• Online Identity Portal to make Firefox your one-stop-shop to the social web.
• Improved sync capabilities for passwords, bookmarks, history, open tabs, and other customization across multiple devices, “taking Firefox with you wherever you go.”
• New add-on and extension management, similar in some ways to Chrome, but tabbed to breakdown customization features and preferences.
• Support for HTML5, CSS3, and SVG images.
• Support for WebM and HD Video, as well as interactive audio with HTML5.
• WebGL integration for 3D graphics.
• Support for multi-touch, touch screen interaction.
• Support for OpenType fonts.
• Improvements in Firefox Personas and Themes.
• Control over website permissions, one click logins, and one click overview of user/site relationships such as passwords, cookies, geolocation, add-ons, popup blocking, etc.
• Improved security on the site side, as sites can keep attackers from “intercepting sensitive data while accessing the site” instructions Firefox to automatically switch to https.
• Improvements for web apps with Websockets.
The two things most people want to know are will their favorite Firefox extensions still work in the new version, and will the Firefox versus Flash crashes end.
According to Mozilla, currently 70% of all official Firefox Extensions and Add-ons report compatibility with the new version of Firefox. Use the Add-on Compatibility Reporter to test the compatibility of your extensions. If a favorite hasn’t been updated, check Ghacks’ Methods to force Firefox Add-on Compatibility. It might not work with all add-ons, but it could with the one you can’t live without.
Mozilla’s team worked overtime to improve crash protections in Firefox 4, especially for Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime and Microsoft Silverlight Plugins. Most of those programs have also updated recently to make them more stable, but this is fantastic news for Firefox fans waiting over two years for this issue to be resolved. If a plugin freezes or crashes, it won’t affect the rest of Firefox. Similar to Chromes recent improvements, only that page will crash, not the entire browser.
What You Need to Know About Using Firefox 4
In general, if you are familiar with old versions of Firefox, you should manage fine within the new version, with a little learning curve. If you are familiar with Chrome and how it hide control and customization options, then this will be a breeze.
However, there are some things that will take a bit to get used to with Firefox 4 and you need to be ready for them.
First on the list is how to access the menu area to make changes and see toolbars. Right click in the “empty space” in the menu bar between the address bar and the back and forward buttons, or on the right side on the same line as the address bar to access the right click menu. Right clicking in the title bar will not work for access to these functions. When I refer to “right click on the empty space” that’s what is meant.
Status Bar: Think UP
For those web savvy folk used to relying upon the Status Bar to verify where links go before clicking, tracking page loading information, and other goodies typically found in the Status Bar at the bottom left corner of the browser window, you’re going to have to think UP instead.
The Status Bar information on link hovers is now in the Address Bar. I have to admit, my eyes got very tired automatically looking down, remembering, then bouncing up to the top. Since my eyes were already at the top or midway on the screen, it’s less work to look up, however, many years of ingrained habits might make this physical switch take a little while to relearn.
A side effect of moving the link information up to the Address Bar also means it has to share with the page URL. If you are working with a low screen resolution or small window, most of the link information will be cut off or not visible.
We’ll cover how to customize this and other menu functions and features in the next section on the orange Firefox button, your new control panel for Firefox.
Access Through Firefox Button
The menus and controls of Firefox 4 have been streamlined similar to Windows Office where everything you really want and need is under a single button. It’s the Firefox button, an orange drop down button at the upper left of the screen. Click it to open up the familiar menus, though a few things have been moved around
If you don’t see the Firefox orange rectangular button, right click on an empty space in the menu bar area of the browser and deselect Menu Bar. Reverse that to get the familiar look back.
Along with the minimized menu interface through the Firefox button, the Bookmarks button replaces the entire Bookmarks menu option or toolbar. To get it back and visible, right click and choose Bookmarks Toolbar to enable.
Some of the other losses many people are missing in Firefox 4 are the Feed Subscribe icon, Reload, Stop, and Page Title.
People like seeing the title of the web page and site they are viewing at the top of the browser. The loss of this in the menu minimization is one many feel strongly, as it was a touchstone, a security device to verify what page you were viewing. You can put it back with a Greasemonkey script, Firefox 4: Bring the Title Back, or through the Firefox 4 UI Fixer, along with the other missing pieces.
To manually add back the Reload, Stop, Subscribe, and other missing buttons, right click on any empty area in the menu bar and choose Customize, then click and drag the buttons to wherever you want them to appear. Reload and Stop are now built-into the far right end of the address bar, and choosing to add the buttons to replace it will remove it from the address bar. Or try RSS Icon In Awesombar Add-on for Firefox to restore the Feed Icon and Status-4-Evar add-on, a Firefox extension that puts the status bar back where it belonged.