16 July 2009 · About 4 minutes read

Chroming Firefox 3.5

Firefox Chromed

Chromium (and it’s Google counterpart, Chrome) is an incredible browser - I’ve not used another that matches its speed, from starting up to loading a script-heavy website. I now use the Chromium dev build in general day to day use.

But despite this, when it comes to developing and debugging web apps, Firefox still holds the ace: Firebug. Although Chromium has inherited developer tools from Webkit, I find Firebug unbeatable for debugging Javascript and tweaking CSS.

So, in an attempt to get the best of both worlds, I’ve setup Firefox to try to match Chrome’s speed and slick interface, whilst keeping the powerful extensions. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Themes and Extensions

Chromifox Extreme

Install the Chromifox Extreme theme to give Firefox the slick Chrome interface. There is also a carbon variant available from Mozilla Addons. To further enhance the theme, install the Chromifox Companion extension changes Firefox’s menus to fit in with Chromifox Extreme.

Tabs Open Relative

It’s only a small thing, but I like Chrome’s habit of opening tabs immediately to the right of your current tab, rather than at the end of the row. Installing this extension will cause Firefox to mimic that behaviour.

Smart Stop/Reload

This extension combines the stop/reload buttons into one toolbar button. Stop is only visible when a page is loading, otherwise the reload button is shown. Another small but useful tweak, especially for running on smaller screens such as a netbook.


This extension gives Firefox a Chrome-like start page complete with a list of your frequently visited sites, and thumbnail previews of recent tabs. To access the page, enter about:tab into your URL bar. You can set this to your default home page under Tools->Settings so that it appears whenever you open a blank tab.

Hide Menubar

Hides the menubar to give you even more screen real-estate. You can temporarily show the menubar by hitting the Alt key.


Remove Extra Toolbar Elements

I can’t remember ever clicking a browser’s Home button. To get rid of it, right click on the toolbar, choose Customize… then drag the home button away from the toolbar. I also removed the search bar on the right, as Firefox’s default action non-URL entries in the address bar is to search them with Google.

Change URL Autocompletion Behaviour

One thing I’ve found that Chrome does well is the URL autocomplete. Although you get a list of matching results like Firefox, Chrome will instantly autocomplete your URL to the closest match, meaning your most frequently visited sites can often be accessed by one press of a key followed by enter. This functionality is turned off in Firefox, meaning you have to use the arrow keys to navigate the list of possible matches. However, a quick configuration change is all that’s needed to fix this:

Enter about:config into the address bar and click “I’ll be careful, I promise!”. In the Filter bar at the top of the page, type autoFill.

If the configuration option browser.urlbar.autoFill is found, make sure it is set to true. If you don’t see the option, right click anywhere in the page and choose New, Boolean. Enter the preference name browser.urlbar.autoFill, then choose true as the default value.

Networking Tweaks

I used this article on ubuntumini.com to set some networking configuration options, designed to speed up the rendering of pages. Again, visit about:config and use the filter bar to search for the options:

```textnetwork.prefetch-next = false

network.http.pipelining = true

network.http.pipelining.maxrequests = 5 (don’t set this too high)

You’ll need to create this option by right clicking, then New-Integer)

nglayout.initialpaint.delay = 0```



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Chris Blunt
Chris Blunt @cblunt
Chris is the founder of Plymouth Software. As well as code and business, he enjoys being a Dad, swimming, and the fine art of drinking tea.