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Firefox 2.0.

Firefox 2.0, which I finally upgraded to this week, offers two standout advantages relative to 1.5.

  • It’s faster. Pages load noticeably quicker — in some cases, as little as 50% of the time they took under 1.5, judging by the performance I’ve seen on Bloglines, Gmail, and an assortment of websites.
  • Links that ordinarily pop up in a new window get sent to a new tab instead. This is surprisingly useful. One of the most annoying things a web designer can do is add “target = _blank” tags to every link on their site, so that the simple act of clicking on a few links turns your desktop into a cluttered mess. I’d gotten in the habit of right-clicking and choosing “open link in a new tab” but this new feature saves me having to do that. It’s useful enough that I’ve even switched Google‘s default behavior to “open links in a new window” — which, in Firefox 2.0, opens them in a new tab.

It’s also got a spiffier, more Aero-like set of buttons (or more OS X-like, if you prefer) and fixes some security problems with earlier releases. And it’s a painless, easy upgrade. Do it.
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  1. India

    Yeah, I downloaded it at work, once my computer finally arrived, and I love the open-in-tab-instead-of-window thing. I !@$#% hate new windows popping up when I haven’t asked for them. But–and I haven’t yet bothered to troubleshoot this properly–I’m finding that some Flash things aren’t displaying properly. In particular, the graph of my blog’s traffic at WordPress.com, which I examine, oh, maybe five thousand times a day? It may just be an Adblock thing (gotta have Adblock), but I couldn’t find any evidence within Adblock that this was the case.

    Haven’t noticed a speed boost, but then, of course I wouldn’t notice it, as the whole computer (a spankin’ new iMac with three gigs of RAM) is, like, ninety times faster than my own poor little PowerBook.

  2. Scot Hacker

    On the Mac, Cmd-click has always opened links in a new tab. I would think that Alt-click would do the same on Windows. No? And I think there’s always been something in the tab preferences to make new tab the default rather than new window. But nice that they’ve made that the global default. I’m so in the habit of Cmd-clicking things that I didn’t even notice this new feature.

  3. Dylan

    Good tip! What gets me is when I don’t do the “open in new tab” option, not realizing how the site’s link is encoded. (You can’t tell just by looking.) On some sites that just opens a new page in the same window. On other sites it opens a new window — it’s unpredictable. Confining those new windows to tabs by default is a good remedy for this anti-user behavior that all too many websites engage in (including, sadly, Gmail).

  4. India

    Yes, Scot, what Dylan says. In the old Firefox, you could Cmd-click a link and, if it was coded in a certain annoying way (Gmail, I’m looking at you!), it would open both in a new window and a new tab. I think the choice of links opening in a new tab or new window applied only to URLs passed from other applications in Firefox 1.5.

  5. India

    Another usability feature seems to have gone missing, however. Am I misremembering, or in 1.5 on the Mac, if you left-clicked and held for a second on a link, didn’t the context menu pop up? As an accommodation to the standard one-button mouse, presumably? I hadn’t realized how often I do that instead of Cmd-clicking, until the functionality disappeared.

  6. India

    Okay, final determination on the WordPress stats graph problem: It is a problem with Firefox 2.0, not Adblock or WordPress.com. Something to do with screen rendering. When I resize my browser window to <1050 pixels wide (which seems very narrow on a 24″ monitor, hee hee), the graph reappears. Doesn’t happen in Safari.

    Now we know.

  7. Dylan

    Scot, it’s Ctrl-click that opens links in a new tab — just checked on that.

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