Tag: Firefox

Two annoying issues with Firefox 4 (and their solutions)

The Mozilla Foundation updated Firefox to its version 4 last month and it has lots of interesting features. So I upgraded and although I initially criticized the new interface (when looking at screenshot from beta releases), I now quite like it: it gives more space to the actual content (web pages) to keep the “container” (the Firefox GUI in itself) to a minimum.

But … (because there always is a “but”). But I found 2 annoying issues with the new version …

  1. the “open in new Tab” option is now second in the pop-up menu when you right-click on a link;
  2. Firefox will not save all your open tabs when you close it.

In version 3, when you right-click on a link, the pop-up menu shows you options to open in new window or in new tab in this order:

  1. Open Link in New Window
  2. Open Link in New Tab

Now in version 4, when you right-click on a link, the pop-up menu shows you these options in the following (inverted) order:

  1. Open Link in New Tab
  2. Open Link in New Window

So if you are used to click on the second option to open the link in a new tab (in version 3), you automatically do this in the new version. But you open a new window. That’s annoying! And that’s a known bug/feature.

There are three solutions to this issue:

  1. use Ctrl + (left) click to open a link in a new tab.
  2. use the Menu Editor add-on to re-organise the pop-up menu order as you wish.
  3. use this tweak proposed in a Mozilla forum.
  4. (I know, a fourth solution) just get used to it because I’ll also find it annoying if Firefox developers suddenly change the order of the menu items back in version 5.

My other issue with this new version of Firefox is that it doesn’t warn you that you will close it but not save the tabs you are currently browsing. In Firefox 3, there was a warning dialog box telling you something like: “you are about to close Firefox but there are still tabs open. Would you like to save them, quit anyway (and lose them) or stay in Firefox”. In Firefox 4, no warning, it closes and doesn’t save your tabs.

Initially you think you made a mistake, there was no tab when you closed Firefox. Or maybe you didn’t pay attention to the dialog box and closed Firefox, telling it not to save. At the third occurrence, you are sure there is an issue! And there is one indeed! The Firefox development team apparently decided not to show this box anymore. It sounds ok if you think that this roadblock-dialog-box isn’t in the user’s way when he/she decides to quit. But then save the tabs to users used to this features don’t lose their tabs. This evening, I lost at least 20 tabs containing things not so important (so not in bookmarks) but I wanted to read tonight. Grrr …

Fortunately, as usual, there is a solution:

In the address/url bar enter: about:config
In the filter box enter: quit
set browser.showQuitWarning to ‘true’

Again, this is a feature or an explicit decision: see bugs 592822 and 593421 for instance.

From my point of view, the gold standard is: don’t change the UI and user experience ; or do it but tell the user you did it the first few times the old behaviour isn’t occurring.

What is my proxy on Windows XP?

In computer networks, a proxy server is a server (a computer system or an application) that acts as an intermediary for requests from clients seeking resources from other servers.” From Wikipedia. This can be useful for a company to force its employees to use a proxy (to filter where they surf, to cache the web content for speed issues, to keep machines on the network anonymous, etc.). This post will look at 3 ways to get the proxy definition for a Windows XP machine in order to use that information in another program. It may work in other Windows-type operating systems.

The first one is to use the command line tool proxycfg but this is different from the one that may be used by Internet Explorer, see here. On my corporate PC, there is no proxy defined this way. But there is one defined in Internet Explorer.

So, in Internet Explorer, to see the proxy connection, you go in the “Tools” menu -> “Internet Options” -> “Connections” tab. And then click on the “LAN settings” button. But this can be blocked by your PC administrator (it’s my case) so let’s look at the other options.

Another option is to use the Firefox (if your company allows you to use it): in the “Tools” menu -> “Options” -> “Advanced” tab -> “Network” tab, in the box named “Connection”, click on the “Settings” button. Then:

  • You have no luck if the settings are auto-detected.
  • If the option “No proxy” is chosen, your company doesn’t use a proxy.
  • If the option “Use system proxy settings” is chosen, you should have seen the proxy with the command line tool proxycfg above.
  • If the option “Manual proxy configuration” is chosen, you can directly read the parameters.
  • If the option “Automatix proxy configuration URL” is chosen, you can copy-paste the link given in the text field in the address bar to see how Firefox will determine which proxy to use. This page is just a bit of code that tells Firefox in which conditions it should use what proxy. You can find some details here or elsewhere on the web. You have to use the value just after the string “PROXY“. For instance, your proxy is “LOCATIONPROXY01” if your proxy string is “PROXY LOCATIONPROXY01“. If there are many proxy definitions, you have to try to understand the logic behind the .pac file if you want to be sure to find the correct one. Or you can try all of them (brute-force) and you’ll find the one that works.

Firefox 3.0 + Flash on a protected Windows PC

Very often, your company doesn’t allow you to install a new software on your company computer. For this purpose, Portable Apps is a very interesting website: it contains a lot of free software ready to be used, without any installation process. Moreover, it releases latest version of software very quickly. For example, 1 or 2 days after the launch of Mozilla Firefox 3.0, it was already in Portable Apps.

Most Firefox plugins (“add-ons“) can be installed in the Portable apps version of Firefox, but not all of them. The Adobe Flash plugin is one of the few ones that you can’t install without administrator rights …

Unless your company installed Firefox 2.x on your computer with the Flash plug-in. If it’s the case, you have just to copy two files from the 2.x install to the 3.0 one :

Go to your “old” Firefox plugins directory, for example: C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\plugins\. Then copy these 2 files: NPSWF32.dll and NPSWF32_FlashUtil.exe to your Portable Firefox directory, like: FirefoxPortable\App\firefox\plugins\. Now re-start Firefox 3.0 … VoilĂ !