The iPad is out, and we’re doing our best to present the alternatives that are out there. While a lot of new and upcoming devices use either proprietary OSes or Android, a lot of them also use Windows – especially those that have been around for a few years. The problem is that a lot of the devices running Windows use 1024×600 screens, like the Viliv S5, S7 and X70, EEE T91 and T101, Kohjinsha SC3, Willcom D4 and a insane amount of other UMPCs, tablets and netbooks. That resolution doesn’t leave a lot of vertical space when you stuff in all the toolbars that Windows programs like so much. Luckily, there are ways to fix some of those issues – at least in FireFox. Read on to see how.
There are a lot of ways of making FireFox more space efficient out there, and as a netbook geek I’ve tried them all. In fact, I wrote about one method of doing this a year ago on my own blog, and my method back then even made it to Tekzilla Daily. Unfortunately, that method doesn’t work well on a touchscreen because it’s hard to hover over something without pressing it, and it also doesn’t display everything. The guy who makes that add-on is also a rather peculiar guy who refuses to post the plugin on Mozilla’s website, doesn’t quite keep up with the FireFox version and basically don’t seem like he cares if anyone uses it. That’s why I set out to find another way of making everything work perfectly, and after a couple of hours of trying out extensions and hacks, I think I found a pretty good solution.
First off you need four Firefox extensions; Bookmarks menu, Hide Caption Titlebar Plus, Tiny Menu and Grab and Drag. The last one isn’t necessary for the minimalist look, it’s simply a utility to let you grab any non-linked part of a webpage to scroll, making it easier to use with touchscreens. Bookmarks menu is a add-on that adds a button to your toolbar that when clicked pops up a menu with everything that’s on the bookmarks toolbar. Hide Caption Titlebar Plus removes the titlebar and integrates a close/minimize/maximize button into the menu bar instead. Tiny Menu turns the entire menu bar into a drop down meny (containing “file”, “edit” and the other menus).
When all of these are installed, it’s time to rearrange a bit. Right click one of the toolbars and select “customize”. Now you can move around the various items and remove those you don’t want. Note that the “Menu” item left on the menu toolbar can’t be moved to another toolbar, so you have to move everything else to the menu bar instead. Move the dropdown bookmarks toolbar button there, the navigation buttons, the address bar and the search field (if you use it). I personally removed the search field because of another “hidden” feature in Firefox: keyword searches. If you go to Google, or and other search engine, internal search function or any search field anywhere you can right click it and select “Add a keyword for this search”. This will let you specifiy a keyword to go with the search, so when you type that keyword in the address bar you can search directly. For example, I have “g” for Google and “img” for Google Images. If I type “g anything but ipod” in the address bar, it will search for “anything but ipod” on Google. This is a very useful feature that will save you time and space since you don’t need the search field anymore. If you don’t use it, you can also deselect the status bar by going to “menu” -> “view” -> “status bar”. There are also ways of customizing the internal icons of the address bar and so on, though that is a bit more advanced and involves the userChrome.css file, so I won’t go into that now.
When everything is moved, you should have a browser that looks like the one in the pictures above. It has absolutely everything that the original toolbar setup had, but takes up literally less than half as much vertical space. On a 1024×600 screen, that is very noticeable.