Some say that Firefox is playing catch-up with Chrome. I agree. But what they miss, is that you can still play catch-up when you’re leading.
You hear from all across the web about “Why I switched to Chrome from Firefox” but let me invert this and tell you my story, from about 5 months ago about why I switched from Chrome to Firefox. My transition wasn’t a one-step decision to switch to firefox, I first switched to Chromium (no, I’m not an “I hate closed-source” person, I use Windows and a number of other closed-source programs), and then to Firefox.
Before the switch, I was a “Chrome is the best browser ever, Firefox is way below it, and IE? It isn’t even a browser” person. But then I became victim of some of my growing frustrations with Chrome.
- It would randomly make tons of copies of my bookmarks.
- Chrome would run in the background and crunch on my memory so that it could boast a nearly-instant startup time.
- The bookmark sorting was way too poor.
- No ability to enable smooth scrolling! Made me confused where I had stopped each time I scroll.
- I couldn’t customise the browser’s chrome (no pun intended) – the chrome app menu is a pathetic mess.
- The “restore last closed tab” was buggy and terrible.
- It would randomly say uninformative “He’s dead, Jim!” or “Aw, snap!” messages when I was typing long texts, and make me lose them completely.
- I kept having to be envious of the nice and cool extensions Firefox had.
- I kept having to open Firefox because I couldn’t use some really useful extensions that I needed to use.
- Retarded chrome updates (and Chrome wouldn’t even ask me if it could update it) would make sites that I visit regularly look pathetic and unprofessional. I mean navbars popping out everywhere and stuff. I mean really popular sites. And they looked perfect on Firefox.
- It didn’t let me install extensions from “third-party sites”, and I had to go through a tedious procedure to enable it, and it didn’t always work.
- One day, Chrome closed this backdoor too.
- It kept bugging me to disable my “developer-mode extensions” as they called it, before chrome started closing all doors (and keeping me locked in their hellish universe).
- The developer tools were inferior. Really inferior. Chrome users, just open firefox for once, right click or press the menu key, press “Q” or click the inspect element button, and click the gear icon on on the top right of the dev tools panel. Be amazed by the multitude of tools that Firefox offers.
- Chrome loved to feast on my RAM. My laptop has a RAM of 6GB and that was often not enough for Chrome.
- Chrome kept running in the background, what an attention seeker.
- Chrome wouldn’t have a feature to let me sort my tabs so my tab bar kept getting cramped.
- To make things worse, the tabs just got smaller and smaller, and scrollbars never appeared.
- The history tools were meek and pathetic. I was hearing that this was because chrome was a “bare-bones browser”, but I didn’t want a bare-bones browser. I wanted a browser with bones, tendons, muscles, ligaents, fat, skin, and clothes (UI) not bones wearing a fancy jacket (design).
- The way chrome handled themes, language packs, etc. was just stupid. I’d need to dig into my profile folder to find out the name of the theme I was using. Firefox does this way better. Plugins, language packs, themes, extensions, they’re all add-ons.
- Finally, and this was the very last straw, it decided to go ahead and disable all my “developer-mode extensions” and didn’t even let me re-enable them. I’m no developer but neither do I have a vision problem, besides mild myopia, so I can read the source code of scripts I use if I want to. It was none of Chrome’s business to tell me what’s safe for me and what’s not.By the way, I absolutely hate this new trend in which other people decide for you how to sort your files (just look at all the new launchers on Google Play), what may be dangerous for you and what’s not, etc. The trend was started, I think, when Microsoft started the “Default Libraries” idea with Windows 7. But Microsoft was smart, they didn’t force everyone to use these libraries. If you can’t copy Microsoft, don’t copy them.
And as I said, that was the very last straw. I was repeatedly hearing from people, “switch to firefox, it’s better! If you can’t adjust to the new UI, there’s a theme called FXchrome!”, but ignored them due to my being a chromehead (still). So finally, I decided to switch, but not to Firefox, but to Chromium. After all, since Chromium was for developers, surely Google won’t poke their nose in there and prevent them from installing “developer-mode extensions”.
Yes, right. But what I didn’t know, that Chromium sometimes thought that it was a mobile browser (and so that it didn’t have to display hover texts) and that it had a habit of sometimes eating up images when you hover on them, and also when you don’t. To be fair, Chromium is supposed to be unstable, and nobody told me to use that as my primary browser. But I did, anyway, and coped with it until I heard the trumpetting of a new Firefox version.
Huh, I thought, it’s just a new version. Those things happen daily. Firefox 28 to 29, what’s the big difference? But there was – I heard about the new projects of Mozilla – Australis, Electrolysis, The Web as a Platform, and I was awed. I was completely awed by the great customisability it offered. Native MathML rendering FTW! Finally, I learnt that chrome fell asleep, and off its throne as speed king. It didn’t fall one step, but two, to come third after Firefox and Opera (well, on the “Next” update channel, anyway, but still). OK, Firefox, did lose the throne quickly to IE soon, but does that matter? It’s IE, and I don’t want IE, it’s too buggy.
And then I learnt that I could sort my bookmarks by tags. And that the FXchrome theme was actually great. And I heard about tab groups. And so I did a switch I would never have dreamt of, switching my browser (chrome to chromium is not counted because you can copy the settings and profile folder; neither is IE to chrome because I didn’t have any data to transfer from IE to chrome back then). But Firefox had made it quite easy to switch, actually. This was I think, the second biggest switch I’ve done so far, after a switch from gmail to outlook.com (no, not a google hater, I just want good products, I do use Android and Google Drive by the way…), although Microsoft made that one REALLY easy, that came a few months later.
Of course, there were some things I found strange as a new user. Some of them are already solved by now, in the newest stable, FX 33.0, and many more in the latest nightly, FX 36.0. But these are easily solved by installing a few extensions. Some extensions to help a long-time Chrome user new to Firefox.
- Download Status Bar – I disabled this after a while because I decided that Firefox handled things better.
- FXchrome – By the way, how many of you knew, that it was Chrome which got its design from Firefox and not the other way around? Just look at the first build of Chrome, released for Linux operating systems, and you’ll see what I mean.
- Omni-Sidebar – It doesn’t make all the stuff (add-ons, bookmarks, history, downloads, etc.) appear like in chrome, but better, in a little neat sidebar.
- ChromEdit – If you know your way through CSS, you can customise the design of your Firefox a bit more than what FXchrome offers.
Another trick that may be useful is to bookmark about:downloads so you can track your downloads in a new tab instead of a new “simple window” (window without a url bar).