This is a read-only archive. Find the latest Linux articles, documentation, and answers at the new Linux.com!

Linux.com

Feature: Internet & WWW

How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

By Andrew Min on November 27, 2007 (9:00:00 AM)

Share    Print    Comments   

One of the biggest complaints a Firefox evangelist encounters is "it doesn't act or feel like browser X." Internet Explorer users complain that Firefox doesn't look like what they're used to. Opera, Safari, and Netscape users complain that it's missing many of their favorite features. And the social networking gurus point to the powerful social networking features Flock boasts and Firefox lacks. However, all these users overlook one of the most powerful features of Firefox: support for third-party add-ons, which can make emulating the features of other browsers extremely simple.

Making Firefox look and feel like Internet Explorer 6

One of the most popular browsers (and the most popular browser for non-techies) is Internet Explorer (IE) 6. When you're converting relatives to Firefox, IE 6 will most likely be what they're used to.

If you want to make an inexperienced Windows users comfortable with Firefox, you'll first want to make Firefox look exactly like IE. To do this, install the Looks Familiar theme. It will change the toolbars, icons, address bar, search bar, tab bar, and throbber to look exactly as they do (or in the case of the search bar, would do) in Internet Explorer 6. If you're extra picky (or like a good joke), install the Firesomething extension to change the browser's title to "Microsoft Internet Explorer" (or "Mozilla Internet Explorer" or "Microsoft Firefox").

Once you have everything looking just right, you can give Firefox the features of Internet Explorer 6. First, make Firefox mask as Internet Explorer 6. Install the User Agent Switcher and then configure it by going to Tools -> Options -> Add-Ons and clicking the Preferences button for User Agent Switcher. Go to the User Agents tab, click Add..., make the User Agent Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1), the App Name Microsoft Internet Explorer, the Version 4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1), and the Platform Win32.

Making Firefox look and feel like Internet Explorer 7

If your wannabe geek claims that Internet Explorer 7 fixed all the Internet Explorer 6 vulnerabilities (he must not have been around when the first vulnerability was found six days after the launch), you can save him from himself by installing Firefox with a few add-ons.

One of the main upgrades found in Internet Explorer 7 is the skin. Personally, I think it's atrocious unless you're running it under Vista, but for those who like it, the myFireFox skin will give a basic Internet Explorer 7 feel.

Next, add some IE7 functionality to Firefox. The first step is to install the Firefox Showcase extension, which will display thumbnails of all your open tabs in one page. It will even work with the showcase button in the myFireFox skin. Additionally, you'll want to use the aforementioned User Agent Switcher to change your user agent to Internet Explorer 7. The setting is built into the add-on; just select it from the drop-down menu.

The only other tool that IE7 adds is a nice RSS reader, but Firefox's Sage RSS reader is even nicer. It boasts RSS and Atom support, style sheets, bookmarks integration, and tons of languages.

Making Firefox look and feel like Opera

The first step is to make Firefox look like Opera. Kagematuri has a wonderful theme for this purpose, hosted at Im Suden's blog.

One of the newest features in Opera 9 is Speed Dial, which lets users add up to nine pages to a quick loading launcher. Envious Firefox users can stop drooling and download the Speed Dial extension. Once it's installed, users can access their favorite sites from the provided portal or with a keyboard shortcut.

One thing I hate in Firefox is that it has a really weak zoom. Unlike Opera (or even Internet Explorer 7), it only zooms text, not images or any other media. That's where PageZoom comes into play. It will zoom images, Flash videos, and more.

Quite possibly the most touted feature in Opera is the sidebar. Firefox users can get similar capabilities with the All-in-One Sidebar, which lets you view pages, source code, downloads, add-ons, page info, an error console, and as many toolbar buttons as you could wish for.

One of the most useful Opera security tools is the wand, which when clicked automatically enters the username, password, and other form data. To do that in Firefox, try Secure Login.

A real timesaver in Opera is that browser's use of mouse gestures, which work like hotkeys for your mouse. Luckily, a Firefox user came up with a similar tool called Mouse Gestures (Firefox users can be so uncreative). You can go backwards and forwards in your browsing history, close tabs, make new tabs, and do much more just by moving your mouse.

With Opera 9 and above, you can have your browser read a Web page using text-to-speech conversion. If you miss that feature, try out Fire Vox. It requires quite a few non-Firefox programs to run (see the guide for more information), but it does a great job.

Another nice little feature that Opera had is a widget engine. Frankly, I find it useless; I think widgets should be on the desktop as opposed to in a browser. But if you like widgets, try out Firefoxit, which allows you to run drawing pads, sticky notes, Gmail notifiers, and other little applications within Firefox.

Making Firefox look and feel like Safari

Apple's Safari is a pretty cool browser, but it's closed source, runs on Windows and Mac OS X only, and doesn't have add-on support. If you're switching from Safari to Firefox, here are some add-ons to make it resemble your old browser.

Making Firefox look like Safari is dead simple: Install the iSafari theme created by Fear Fox. It's an almost exact replication of Safari's brushed metal interface. You'll also want to install Fission to add a Safari-style progress bar.

There are only a few features in Safari that Firefox doesn't have. One of the best is called SnapBack, which lets you "snap" back to the page you were originally viewing. If you enjoyed that feature in Safari, try out SnapBack or How'd I Get Here.

Another Safari lets users resize text areas to provide for easier editing. Firefox's Resizable Form Fields goes even further: it lets you resize text areas, select boxes, text fields, and even iframes.

Making Firefox look and feel like Flock

Every time I see a story boasting about the Flock browser's features, I think, "Why would anyone use that?" Sure, it has nice social networking features, but all those features are available with Firefox.

First off, get the Flock Theme For Firefox. For some reason, the site claims to support only Firefox 1.5, but the theme actually runs on Firefox 1.0-3.0.

Almost everyone uses Facebook, and Flock does a great job of integrating Facebook out of the box (it basically runs a mobile version). However, Firefox can do the same thing with the Official Facebook Toolbar. It includes a toolbar with notifications, a friends sidebar, and a share button.

Flock also integrates well with Flickr, letting you view your friends' (or anyone else's) photostreams. Luckily, the Flickrfox add-on will do all of that and more.

If you swear by del.icio.us and love the fact that Flock syncs with its bookmarks, try out Foxylicious. It will sync the remote del.icio.us bookmarks with all the Firefox bookmarks.

Another nice built-in feature in Flock is the ability to blog directly to TypePad, Movable Type, WordPress, and Blogger. But Flock isn't the only browser that will do this. All you need to do is install Deepest Sender or ScribeFire (formerly Performancing) in Firefox.

Making Firefox look and feel like Netscape

Believe it or not, the main Netscape theme for Firefox was created by the Netscape team. The theme is called Netstripe, and it is basically an exact replica of Netscape 9. Unfortunately, the team didn't include Linux support (their reasoning was that a tiny search field bug looked bad. I don't use the search bar so I'd have been fine with that). Therefore, I've hacked it for Linux.

You can add a few more Netscape-specific features to Firefox. There really aren't a ton of features in Netscape that Firefox doesn't have (it is, after all, built on Firefox). URL Fixer is a great add-on that corrects domain misspellings. A user named Gomita created a program called ScrapBook that is similar to LinkPad. And you can emulate Propeller integration with Propeller.com Friends' Activity Sidebar and Propeller.com Sitemail Notifier.

Conclusion

You now know how to make Firefox look and feel like virtually any browser. Whenever a fanboy of one of those other browsers explains why his browser "pwns ur fierfox," you have a weapon to refute him. Or when one of your stubborn in-laws explains that she simply doesn't have time to learn Firefox, you can show her she doesn't need to.

Share    Print    Comments   

Comments

on How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Note: Comments are owned by the poster. We are not responsible for their content.

How to make Firefox look and feel better under Linux / KDE

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.247.39.239] on November 27, 2007 09:09 AM
And to make Firefox better integrated in Linux environment, like Konqueror under KDE :
http://konquefox.free.fr/

#

Re: How to make Firefox look and feel better under Linux / KDE

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 10.218.161.85] on November 28, 2007 02:17 PM
Thank you very much. This is a major annoyance and I hope such configurations help bring some visual order to my desktop.

I used to pay more attention to freedesktop work, maybe it's time to catch up again.

Much appreciated, indeed.

Take care.

#

How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Lisa on November 27, 2007 10:35 AM
One feature Safari has that I wish FF had also is the ability to pull a tab out of several you have open and make a new window out of it. I've been looking for a FF extension that will do the same thing but haven't found anything. Anyone know of one that will make FF do this neat trick for me?

#

Re: How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.248.89.66] on November 27, 2007 06:35 PM
The closest I've been able to do is Open a new window with Ctrl-N and then drag the tab into the new window.

#

Re: How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 195.159.201.7] on December 04, 2007 02:30 PM
Tab Mix Plus does that and more too. Why have Firefox without it?

#

How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 190.24.105.28] on November 27, 2007 11:58 AM
i'm searching that one too, someting like detach a tab.

#

How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 129.83.31.3] on November 27, 2007 01:28 PM
But how do I make IE7 look like Firefox? I have to use it occasionally I have really dislike the new interface.

#

Re: How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 88.100.126.138] on November 27, 2007 05:49 PM
Try IETab. It puts a handy browser engine switching button into Firefox so you can switch them any time. Also there's a blacklist (or whitelist?) where you can put URLs you want to use the IE engine by default.

#

Re(1): How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.65.219.173] on February 24, 2008 07:28 AM
IE tab does not work in Linux. Only in windows...

#

How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.76.77.54] on November 27, 2007 01:38 PM
Can I change the crash handler to make the whole screen blue and lock up the whole machine, not just Firefox?

#

Re: How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.101.89.169] on November 27, 2007 03:12 PM
just use some flavor of Windows and you will have all the blue screens you want

#

How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 165.189.180.60] on November 27, 2007 01:58 PM
To create a window from a tab or move tabs between windows you may want to try the Firefox Tab to Window extension.

#

How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.139.253.139] on November 27, 2007 04:06 PM
What about tweaking keyboard and mouse bindings like you can on Opera? Imho, that's easily O's best feature--it's easy and accesible to do just about anything you can imagine and bind it to a single key (pressing 'j' on my machine searches Google for the highlighted text in a new background tab, which is wicked handy).

I want to switch to FF pretty bad, primarily for open source/ideological reasons. But the idea of finding all the extensions to get all the features I've come to rely on every day to get stuff done, and then figuring out how to tweak them all, is just exhausting.

#

How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.96.179.248] on November 27, 2007 04:36 PM
It's not possible to make FIrefox truly look and feel like IE, unless there is a "Make my browser crash" or an "Serious Security Issue" addon available

#

Re: Opera kicks your ass

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 78.47.171.170] on November 28, 2007 09:46 AM
Have to agree. Firefox lost me at about 0.6 or 0.8 beta. If there is a third party plugin that makes firefox small, fast, stable, and not a memory hog, then I will give it another look.

#

How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Thao on November 28, 2007 11:29 AM
I like Firefox very much, i never use IE. No need make Firefox like IE. Firefox is Firefox.

#

Re: How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.35.113.242] on November 28, 2007 08:06 PM
I agree !!! 100

#

But what's the point?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.56.142.230] on November 28, 2007 10:34 PM
Switching from Internet Explorer I can understand, but I don't see the point of trying to convert people from Safari or Opera, both of which are (in my opinion) far superior browsers. The only thing truly going for Firefox seems to be its popularity - apart from that, it's a very slow and incredibly bloated program, which offers very few useful features built into the browser. (Which I can understand, but considering the aforementioned bloat, it seems a waste.)

I currently use Konqueror myself - it's open-source, like Firefox; it has all sorts of powerful built-in functionality, including a file manager and incredible desktop integration - like Explorer - and split views, similar to Opera's MDI; and it uses roughly the same renderer as Safari does - Apple's code was originally borrowed from Konqueror's KHTML. It's considerably faster than Firefox, and especially for Web designers, is a very convenient all-in-one tool.

#

How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 77.49.65.246] on November 29, 2007 10:50 PM
This seems as if it is absolutely necessary to convert everyone to use FF. I can understand why you'd want people, especeially the ones that you have to fix their computers (every now and then with the ocasional virus) not to use IE, or even the fact that you want to promote open source stuff over proprietary. But you have to admit that for the former part Opera and Safari are doing the same, and for the latter, you get konqueror readily available in most open source distro's, be it linux or BSD. Maybe FF covers the ground in between, being available in windows too, but it would be an odyssey for anyone not used to push more than two buttons to get online to set it up, configure it, and back it up and re-deploy in the exact same shape and feature availability after a (god forbid) crash, or reinstall, or even when using more than one computer. And besides, if I HAVE to use something to be in the politically correct side of things, well I'll have to go with what I prefer, over it. After all (given the idea of IE coming bundled with windows) they're all free.

#

There is no point...

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.243.181.92] on December 02, 2007 08:10 PM
Firefox is a web browser... Opera is a web suite. There is no comparison and there never will be.

#

How to make Firefox look and feel like IE, Safari, or Opera

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.136.234.130] on January 22, 2008 10:26 PM
This is a great article, thanks!

#

This story has been archived. Comments can no longer be posted.



 
Tableless layout Validate XHTML 1.0 Strict Validate CSS Powered by Xaraya