Firefox/Feature Brainstorming:Default Browser UI

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« Firefox/Feature Brainstorming


GUI features

Simple Interface

The greatest thing about Firefox (or Firefox 1.5 at least) is how incredibly simple it is. The gradients, colors, and glossiness of everything in Firefox 2 just creates visual overload. My head can't take it.

"The visual appearance of an application is directly related to its acceptance by users." [1]
AIM Triton has a super fancy GUI...and everyone hates AIM Triton.

There's a reason the Winestripe theme was downloaded 64,395 times in 1 month and 6 days. [2]


Absolute UI customization

  • Allow to place any action control (eg. File->Exit, all extension buttons, ...) to any place on the browser ui (eg. status bar, preferences window, url suggestion popup, or even into bookmars, ...).
  • Allow to remove as meny as posible unused features from the browser (this can speed up the browser startup, if someone figures out, how to don't load code of removed features).
  • It's too ambitious idea... try figure out, what's possible to implement
  • Separate UI related options from about:config to a Visual Studio like property grid.

Please uses QT instead of GTK

Firefox's GUI runs so slow because of the use of GTK+. Please uses QT GUI which would make the browser faster. Additionally QT is more user-friendly, and had better GUI functions (I know its sound like a troll). It could be also possible to include easily FireFox in KDE (once using QT library).

Alternate UI modes

  • Togglable kiosk mode
  • More efficient layout for widescreen laptops
  • Minimal UI mode
    • Show and hide navigation/bookmark/menu bar via a right-click menu everywhere
  • Add an option to the View menu to hide all the top toolbars and the tab bar when the mouse is not over the window header or, when in fullscreen mode, not at the top of the window.
  • Add an option to hide the toolbars and show them at the mouse position (so you don't even have to go all the way up at the top of the screen) by using a mouse + keyboard combination.
  • Add an option to hide the menubar
  • (optional) full screen (or "resize to fit all content" ...a la Mac OS X) mode without toolbars, icons, navigation bar, etc


- details & discussion

Choice of UI rendering mode

  • choice between displaying page when fully rendered (mozilla way) or display as it renders (Firefox way).
  • Better: re-design it from scratch, as suggested in "Smooth Page Transitions".


Use Default GTK+ widgets

As with OS X, Firefox on GTK+ OSs uses the same blocky widgets in webforms (to the point that a list box in a webform behaves differently than a listbox in the system.)

OS X widgets

Use OS X's provided widget set, especially for textarea, button, radio, checkbox and select elements. Native widgets feature spell check among other niceties. This would go a long way towards making Firefox feel more like a "real" OS X application. The current UI does not follow many of the common idioms on the Mac which causes confusion when switching between it and other Apple apps. This could greatly impact adoption on OS X, particularly among less savvy users who don't understand why it's different.

  • Still, those should be kept customizable via CSS: only the defaults (unstyled) should be system-widgets.
  • Getting there in Fx 3 beta 1. But they look more like gifs put around the old look - corners are often cut of the glow - and also when clicking on a normal text box it doesn't do the glow - this helps alot of mac users find where they're typing and a feature you really need. Also Cmd+F should bring find bar up to the top under tabs, much like Safari 3 does. Also the close button on tabs should be on the left.


Menu features

  • Completely remove the menu button -- but access the menu with right click just like WMP

-- OR --

1. The menu navigation can be organized like the Win7 start menu (All Programs) - clicking on a grouping item (New, Print, Bars...) would expand the sub-items downwards (below the grouping item) preferably with a slight indent. This will save us from the nightmare of moving the mouse to the right where the submenu opened avoiding moving it vertically and thus losing the submenu. Collapsing the items could be done by clicking again on the grouping item or clicking somewhere else in the menu. Autoexpanding and autocollapsing by hovering the mouse over grouping items is a nice feature too. Several grouping items could stay open.

2. Having in mind suggestion 1, the menu could be a top-to-bottom strip (always down to the statusbar) just like the sidebar, but shown OVER the contents area, not displacing (moving) the contents area to the right. By expanding/collapsing the grouping items the number of visible items/subitems would vary and some of the items will slide down and some of them eventually hide under the lower edge of the menu strip. This will allways keep the menu inside the browser window, just like the Win7 Start menu always occupies the same real estate regardless of the number of the items. If there is no vertical room for all items (and opened subitems) to be shown then the menu can be scrolled by the mouse scroller and/or by a scroll bar.

3. The menu could be looped - scrolling further beyond the final item will reveal the first item and so on. So if we need the last or the second to last item we could just scroll up a bit and access the item sparing us the effort to move the mouse down to the bottom of the menu list. There should be a separator between the loops so that it would be easy to quickly assess the menu position (state) and help the user to click the needed item.

Categories in Customize Chrome Menu

Often the number of buttons provided when you customize the toolbars is overwhelming. They should be grouped by category and extensions that add more buttons might add them to their own category or if aware choose the correct category to which to add the buttons.

Selective Autohide of Menus, Address, Bookmarks, Extensions

I'd like to be able to set my menubars, bookmark bar, and (as an example) the Google toolbar to autohide. By this, I mean like the windows taskbar. This way I would be able to use that extra space for viewing, but wouldn't have to turn the bars on and off manually, or switch from the fullscreen mode.

This idea could present a problem with being able to trigger the right bar for display, but I think if someone worked out the UI specifics for that, it would be a neat feature.

Customizable Main Menu

  • Allow the main menu (File, Edit ...) to be customized and/or retracted in order to be able to free much more space for sites' display without using full screen mode.

Rationalize and reorganize browser and context menus

  • Remove some menu items
  • Move other menu items


Reasoning and Arguments

Context Menu

  • Show an open url in new tab or open url option in the context menu when the user right-clicks on a plaintext url (text that is recognizably a url, but has no <a> tags).
  • Show encoding option in the context menu, with easy access to favorite or frequently used encodings (e.g. for Ukrainian users: Windows-1251, KOI8-R, KOI8-U, UTF-8), without need to choose them from the list of dozens of unused items. (Encoding should be made on the fly, without any HTTP or cache requests.)
  • Hide Chose File in open location dialog (already exists open file)
  • Make Open location url bar same as location bar (in order to use search features provided for example from omnibar extension

It would be usefull when browsing without location bar you want to open url (for example in fullscreen mode: hide address bar)

Toolbar features

  • As per bug 63295 (almost 6 years old), menus should auto-scroll if you hover above/below them.
  • Toolbar enhancements
    • Allow user to move toolbars

Toolbar customization like IE

  • Ability to move menubar and toolbars collectively, arbitrarily


  • Optimize icon layout
  • Add Extension headings
  • Group icons by Extension

More toolbar buttons

  • Include more toolbar buttons (proxy checkbox, Save Page, Print Preview, Full Screen, Downloads, Images, Undo Last Closed Tab, etc) in the customize toolbar dialog. All frequently changed options should have a chrome control avalible without installing extensions.


Like proxy button!, Or perhaps pref buttons extensions. And maybe even "go up"

place by defect the bookmark and history button in the left of the Bookmarks toolbar

  • This change it allows an access improvement to the lateral toolbar of the Bookmarks (Ctrl+B) increasing the functionality.
  • Redesign both icons with a smaller size so that they do occupy less space in the Bookmarks toolbar.


  • Improve the trobber (the circle thingy at the top right).
  • Reinstate the trobber's link to firefox's support page.
  • Perhaps Firefox-ko of Mozilla Japan?

Auto hide toolbar on full screen

  • Enable auto hide toolbar when in full screen(like ie)

Option to set user defined sizes for search box

  • The ability to set a maximum size for the search box so that when the browser window is expanded greatly the address box expands but the search box remains the same size.
  • This would enable users with a larger screen resolution to have more icons on the top bar and having the decision whether the search box or the address box should be made smaller, rather than the default in FF2 which decreases the address box leaving a large search box which the user may not want.

Button features

Back and Forward buttons

  • Include right click options on back/forward buttons to open the previous/next page in a new window or tab. It would need to preserve the browse history in new window/tab.
  • Use a second set of Back and Forward buttons to navigate local directories
  • "Smart" Back button in case the page was loaded by "POST" command. It is possible to store the page "as is" in the cache and when requested about "repost data" show that page if selected "no". In most cases the page is needed only because of links on it
  • Along with Back and Forward, an "Up" button could be added for going to "./..", as it is sometimes useful even on the Web. KDE's browser has already had this for some time.
  • Combine Stop and Back buttons. While a page is loaded the Back button could turn into a Stop button, once the the page is finished, the button turns back into a Back button.


Middle click on back / forward already does this, but History is not preserved. 

Related to: bug 18808 bug 189313 bug 246719 a detailed proposal here

Combine reload and stop buttons

With rare exceptions, the Average User does not need access to both the reload and stop buttons at the same time. Combining them so they occupy the same space and "toggle," à la Safari, will free up real estate on the UI and reduce visual complexity.

  • the cost of continuously reload pages on locks/slowness/etc. Shiira already avoided this solution. If this will be done, MUST be enabled/disabled with a setting in the Preferences. (Why? Button toggles depending on state!)


Stop scripts button

Some websites contain scripts which take a wery long take to execute and sometimes crash the browser. And there is no way to terminate this script than closing a Firefox. It would be ggod to add a "Stop scripts" button, which would terminate all scripts running on that page (this may include WebWorkers and AJAX requests).

Stop button stops active content on page

After a page has loaded the stop button grey's out and has no effect. In IE the stop button is always available and pressing it will halt animated gifs from animating. It would be good to go a step further and have pressing stop prevent animated gifs, embeded sound files, flash animations, video files etc from running.

EDIT: Starting with Firefox 4, this is not possibile, because stop and reload buttons are combined.

Have the 'New Tab' button shown as a Default

In Firefox 2 the 'New Tab' button in the Navigation toolbar is not shown by default. One must 'customize' the toolbar. This is not ideal and does not promote the use of tabs. My mom was using Firefox for at least a year before I showed her that it had tabs!!! Tabs are extremely useful, so you might as well make that feature more easy to access (for new/basic users who don't know what tabs are or the keyboard shortcut to open a new tab.)

Reconsider the idea of Home Page

Home Page and Home button have been with us since forever. However, I have a strong feeling they are no longer relevant and no one uses them as they did in the old times of "web portals". I propose to create a task-oriented "start" pane - basically a question of "what do you want to do". It should have:

  • urlbar: "I want to go to that page".
  • history: "I want to go to the page I've been to recently"
  • web search: "I want to search"
  • a button that restores session from just-closed window: "I want to continue"
  • bookmarks and feeds, or otherwise Places

I consider Thunderbird's start pane to be a good example of what I'm talking about.

Tab features

  • Middle-click paste (in X11 environment) in the tab area should open a new tab with the link in X selection, and not just replace current tab with the new content...
  • Apart from the TAB navigation... it may be useful a option to choose an "inside-windows" navigation to move them freely all over firefox

Tab Numbering System

This feature is mainly for people who tend to have a lot of tabs opened at the same time. You could add the ability for the user to see a numbering system on the far right of each tab over the close button (or the far left over the favicon) once the user presses the ctrl key on their keyboard which will make it easy to navigate through the tabs using ctrl + "The corresponding number"

Tab Groups (not auto-grouping)

  • Supplant need for separate windows, hopefully
  • Allow new windows to load separate Firefox profiles
  • Allow the selecting of random tabs, for either closing or moving tabs to a new tab group
  • List number of tabs for each tab group in the tab group toolbar

Added by Operations on 09/09/07


Tab animation indicates completion status.

Have the animated dots to the left of the page title on each tab be a visual representation of the page loading status.

For example: 3/4 of the dots glowing will represent that only 3/4 of the page has loaded.

Behaviour: Much like the status bar bottom right corner of the browser.

Auto-complete features

Better autocomplete in form fields

  • Autocomplete list should be editable (like cookie-list) or erasable otherwise it will contain a lot of trash after some time and it is also a mild security risk because sometimes people demonstrate their actions and it is not nice previous entries pop-up; perhaps some toggle can help to disable/enable the feature
  • Also, Emacs-style autocomplete ("dynamic expansion") of words will increase input speed dramatically in input and textarea fields
  • It could go even further by having abbrev-list in a meta rel fashion (the same fashion as favicon is specifyed or other related documents)

If implemented, this proposal can boost productivity for web-application users with technically simple (and known from many text-processors/editors) UI add-on


Avoid caching sensitive data for autocomplete

Use heuristics to try and avoid caching sensitive data for autocompletion. For example, if something looks like a credit card number or social security number, don't cache it. It's very disconcerting to start typing in your social security number on your bank's Web site, and realize your browser already knows it...

Other features

Absolute hotkeyability and toolbarability

  • Any command that can be accessed from a menu or a button should be hotkeyable (including changing the standard hotkey), and can be put onto the toolbar as a button.
  • Users should be able to save and load custom hotkey and toolbar layouts (including "for one session" mode, when they are at the public PC)
  • I would like to add that all the "commands," including pop up menu commands, should be representable by main/pop up menu items, toolbar buttons, keyboard shortcuts, and/or mouse gestures. The interface to configure them should be unified. Custom solutions via extension do not work well because they tend to ignore the custom commands provided by other extensions, and run into problems (like Menu Editor not removing old Greasemonkey menus after extension update).

Three-level Undo and Redo instead of Back and Forward

  • Since AJAX has become very popular, often we do many action on the same page, even if its contents totally changes. Site developers sometimes implement program handling of Back and Forward buttons, which takes page history navigation out of the user's control, and this is not natural and not convenient. Instead, there can be three levels of Undo/Redo actions: low level for each script or user action which changes the actual document DOM structure (also useful for debugging); middle level for traditional Back/Forward (socument location cnanges); and high level for browser-wide actions like opening and closing pages, switching tabs etc. User should be able to turn off tracking of each separate level, to save memory and speed up performance, as well as to customize their history deepness (how many recent actions can be tracked).

Text link recognition

  • Double click on a text link (like: or recognizes it and opens it like a regular link, a very simple feature.
  • Another option is just that if you highlight a text link and right click it should have menu options for 'Open in new tab' and 'Open in new window.' I like the original suggestion better, however, as long as it is possible.


Improved visual navigation

  • Alternatively scrollbar enhancements could help (refer to the second link for more details). Not sure if it's easy to implement though.


Display keyboard shortcuts when hovering over objects

  • When hovering over an object in the navigation toolbar the respective keyboard shortcut should be displayed as a tool tip.

It could considerably improve the usage of keyboard shortcuts for new Firefox users that are not used to work with keyboard shortcuts (like old people). This should be a default-on feature with the option to turn off in Options -> Advanced -> General -> Accessibility

Page Zoom

  • While AutoScrolling, zoom with just the mouse wheel
  • Center zoom where the cursor is. (A magnifying glass like Photoshop and CorelDraw to zooming specific page area, not only a general magnifing zoom, but a precision area zoom.)

Preventing Flash, other plugins and scripts from overriding the context menu

  • While Flash displays its own context menu, it is inconvenient and looks inconsistent, preventing access to what user would actually like to do with the page or its part (often users do not recognize where is GIF and where is Flash). The same is happening when a script changes the context menu. User should have the ability to display browser context menu wherever on the page they right click, and to save the object they clicked.


bug 4821

Editing HTML of opened page

  • Be able to edit the HTML source of a web page that is open and then save the changed version to the local hard disc.
  • Currently "View > Page Source" does not allow editing for a web based page. Make this editable and then give the ability to save the entire page with images etc, using the modified source to the local hard disc.


bug 172817 bug 269326

Color of visited links depending on time of last visit

  • Color of visited links should range from VLINK to LINK according to time passed.
    • I'd like that the color of visited links could range from the the color defined for visited links to the color of _un_visited links in proportion to the time passed since last visit.
    • This feature was present in early Mosaic, but I haven't seen it again in any browser.


Bug 211531

Different font sizes for each page

  • I'd like to have the option of choosing a custom font size for a page; the browser should be able of remember the last size in future visits to the same page.


Bug 108391 NoSquint extension (but per-domain is simplistic, as all pages on a domain to not follow the same style). Also requested in Firefox/Feature Brainstorming:Accessibility as "Font Deltas".

Multiple file opening dialog

  • Allow multiple file opening by holding CTRL/SHIFT in the Open File dialog

Close all other windows and undo

  • Lets the user close all other windows

(Adds feature to right click on main window when more than two windows are open)

  • Then adds option for user to undo closed windows

(Adds undo feature to right click on main window when closing of multiple windows has occured)

General tasks

  • Revisit default tab strip
  • Re-evaluate toolbar buttons
  • Re-evaluate status bar
  • Re-evaluate menus and context menus
  • Ensure shortcut consistency
  • Remove Truncation of Title and Alt Tags
  • Intelligently handly text-cursor movement requests so that the cursor isn't moved while the user is typing.
  • Handle Adobe Flash (and others) like IE 7, requiring a left-click before the plugin begins intercepting keyboard shortcuts.


Netscape Load All Images missing sub menu should be restored.

May I point out that the View>View_Images(?) menu is missing in Firefox 2x. In Netscape the View>Load_Images(?) sub menu could load all of the images on the page without needing to click on each icon.

May I offer an additional reason why this menu should be restored to Firefox. When one uses search engines some sites with offensive naked pictures may embed keywords contained in the search criteria (eg. linux) causing the search engine to include a naked picture site along with desired search results containing penguins. After reading and approving the page text the user needs a single action to view all of the pictures.

For users who are surfing with Load Images Automatically not activated, there should be 2 new options:

  1. show all images on this page
  2. right-click: show this image

May I ask you to please clarify where on the page the mouse pointer should be placed for these actions? How is the right click different from a default configuration left click over an image icon that causes the image to load and replace the icon? As I remember, in Netscape a right click over an image icon brings up a pop up image menu with choices such as copy image link, save image as, view image, etc. Did you mean to add the load all images sub menu to the right click pop up image menu when a right click happens over an image icon?

May I suggest since current Firefox distinguishes images from the server hosting the web page and images from other servers. There might properly be two view all images sub menu items:

Impact on code shold be minimal. The load image code is already in the browser so adding two sub menu items under view the view menu that call each kind of load image as a permanent part of the source tree would have negligible impact on source size, binary size, and maintainability. It should have no impact on performance if the load all images menu item is not selected.


Netscape for SuSE 7.3 Linux has a load all images menu option. Modern Knoppix live CD Iceweasel and Konqueror do not have this menu item.

=== Highlight Current Site's Stored Password(s)===

In the Tools > Options... > Security > Show Passwords... popup window, highlight any rows with passwords stored for the website you are currently browsing.

Convenient when you want to delete the stored password for a site because you just deleted your account/changed your username/etc.

Don't use key 's' as shortcut for menu

Currently pressing ALT + 's' opens the 'History' menu. This is really annoying since a lot of board pages use the shortcut ALT + 's' to submit new posts.

Workaround: Change to about:config and change the following values:

  • ui.key.chromeAccess into 5
  • ui.key.contentAccess into 4

Allow user to save tabs when quitting even if "Downloads" dialog is open

If the user has the "Downloads" dialog open when closing the last browser window, they do not get the opportunity to save their tab settings. It only warns them that they have multiple tabs open.

To break the current table (Why do we ever use tables? It's an absolute nightmare to edit!), I believe that CTRL-Highlight should let you select more than one part of the text in a page. This would be very handy. --FlyingIsFun121712:50, 4 November 2007 (PST)  Did it!--CoolK3N 22:51, 12 March 2010 (UTC)