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Making the most of your browser screen real estate

By Rob Strover on May 26, 2008 (9:00:00 AM)

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My Asus Eee PC 701 is a brilliant low-cost ultraportable notebook, but it has a really small screen (seven inches diagonally). I needed to find out how to make the best use of the available area when I was using the Firefox Web browser. I used F11 to toggle the browser's built-in full screen mode, in which a modified navigation toolbar and optional tab bar are all that is displayed above a Web page, but I yearned for something even better. I found two add-ons that could meet my needs.

Extension series

With the FullerScreen extension, when you press the F11 key the current Web page is displayed over the entire screen -- no menus or toolbars. If you move the mouse pointer to the top or bottom of the screen area, the extension will display a full screen navigation bar, the status bar, and, if appropriate, the tab bar.

Via the extension options menu you can to alter some aspects of what is displayed under these conditions, but despite there being options available to change which toolbars are exposed when you point to the screen edge with the mouse, in practice you can see only the navigation toolbar. Still, this does not really detract from the usefulness of this extension. The ability to expose the navigation toolbar means that it is easy to open a new tab, navigate to a new Web page, or initiate a Web search.

When you install FullerScreen you'll see a new "full screen" icon on the status bar. Clicking on it with the left mouse button toggles the full screen mode display. Right-clicking brings up a context menu you can use to display the options dialog box or to hide the vertical scrollbar.

I found a couple of cases where FullerScreen acts in a somewhat erratic manner. Firstly, with the navigation and status bar show and hide behaviour, the status bar sometimes stays visible when it should have become hidden. Secondly, if the vertical scrollbar has been hidden, then navigation through the Web document occasionally jumps back to the start of the document.

Another screen extension, Full Fullscreen, works with the F11 key just the same way as FullerScreen, except that an active tab bar remains visible even in full screen mode. If you want your browser to always start in full screen mode, or want to hide the tab bar or vertical scrollbar in full screen mode, Full Fullscreen has options that make it possible. There is also an option to make the navigation bar visible in full screen mode, but it does not work. Fortunately this does not detract from the usefulness of this extension. In addition, under full screen mode, there is a context menu item enabling return to normal screen mode display.

In Full Fullscreen, in full screen mode, there's no way to make the navigation toolbar visible, but you can still use many of its features using built-in Firefox shortcuts. To get access to the location (address) box, press Ctrl-L. To access Internet search, press Ctrl-K. All the other normal navigation-related keyboard shortcuts are also available.

With all of these extensions, you can display a sidebar (e.g. Ctrl-B to display bookmarks or Ctrl-H to display history) even in full screen mode.

These two extensions achieve what they set out to do. Of the two, I prefer Full Fullscreen for its ability to start the browser in full screen mode. For my much-smaller-than-usual computer screen, this is a fantastic feature.

Every Monday we highlight a different extension, plugin, or add-on. Write an article of less than 1,000 words telling us about one that you use and how it makes your work easier, along with tips for getting the most out of it. If we publish it, we'll pay you $100. (Send us a query first to be sure we haven't already published a story on your chosen topic recently or have one in hand.)

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on Making the most of your browser screen real estate

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Making the most of your browser screen real estate

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 129.16.83.14] on May 26, 2008 09:37 AM
Although I don't have an Asus Eee, I also like to make use of my screen area. On Firefox I use the extension Vimperator (http://vimperator.mozdev.org/) which makes Firefox behave and look like the text editor Vim. This extension has a minimal interface and makes heavy use of the keyboard, which minimize unnecessary mouse fiddling.

/Pontus

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Re: Making the most of your browser screen real estate

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 145.99.154.50] on May 26, 2008 09:43 AM
I do have an eee, an I'm a big fan of vimperator. I use it on all my machines, it's excellent and prevents me from learning yet another list of shortcut keys!

blijblijblij

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Re: Making the most of your browser screen real estate

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 204.116.225.18] on May 26, 2008 06:44 PM
I agree on Vimperator, it's far and away my favorite Firefox extension.

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Re: Making the most of your browser screen real estate

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.117.111.61] on May 31, 2008 01:17 PM
I agree with the use of the vimperator extension. Even for those not familiar with VIM, it makes using Firefox easier. For instance, pressing "f" will give each link a hint, like Hit-A-Hint, and pressing "]]" on any web page will bring up the next page if the article is split into many pages. The extension still has some rough edges, but it is getting much better with each release.

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Making the most of your browser screen real estate

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 193.192.38.243] on May 26, 2008 10:02 AM
Try Opera's fullscreen mode, the best in my opinion...

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Making the most of your browser screen real estate

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.236.242.9] on May 26, 2008 10:25 AM
Firefox 3's fullscreen mode pretty much renders these unnecessary - The toolbars and tab bar are only visible when you move the mouse to the top of the screen, although the scrollbar is still visible.

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Fullerscreen not needed anymore since FF3b5

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 194.250.1.173] on May 26, 2008 10:30 AM
Since the 4th or 5th beta of Firefox 3, when you press F11, the top toolbar disappear when you don't need it (leaving just a thin grey line).

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Making the most of your browser screen real estate

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 213.254.226.117] on May 26, 2008 11:16 AM
Why I use Opera on EEE instead of Firefox?
- Full screen mode (F11) without borders or toolbars (no extension needed)
- Zoom in-out (keys +/-) with great render (smoother images, etc.)
- Auto-adjust page width (Ctrl+F11). Better than zooming out. Opera re-arrange the page to fit horizontally.

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Making the most of your browser screen real estate

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 194.228.86.66] on May 26, 2008 12:56 PM
IMHO the main reason to use Opera's fullscreen are mouse gestures - hand is all the time on the mouse and still you can navigate back and forward - no need to use buttons/icons or keyboard. I do not use back and forward buttons for few years even on big screens.

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Making the most of your browser screen real estate

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 99.230.173.218] on May 26, 2008 01:23 PM
One word: Minifoxflat

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Making the most of your browser screen real estate

Posted by: proopnarine on May 27, 2008 04:40 AM
I an an Eee PC. You can navigate backwards and forwards through pages on Firefox simply with the touchpad. No buttons/icons of keyboard need there either.
A question about the article. The wrap-up has an unfortunate typo in there, saying that the author prefers "Fuller Fullscreen". That left me wondering which one is really the favourite. But both ideas sound good, as well as suggestions in the earlier comments.

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Re: Making the most of your browser screen real estate

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 220.235.95.143] on May 27, 2008 08:40 AM
Argh!! I hate those typos :-( I actually meant the Full Fullscreen extension.

BTW, thanks for those who have left comments to this review. A question, if anyone can help: Does the new FF3 full screen mode allow start-up in full screen mode (as per Full Fullscreen)?

Rob [review's author]

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Making the most of your browser screen real estate

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.103.97.132] on May 27, 2008 04:41 PM
No, at least as far as I can see it won't allow start-up in full screen. It's also useful to set it to use small icons in the customise toolbar window, not sure if this feature is new though.

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Making the most of your browser screen real estate

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.145.180.221] on May 27, 2008 07:39 PM
mmmm.....Opera's 'fit to width' feature. i had forgotten about how tasty it is.

that'd be perfect for something like the eee.

Is there a FF extension to do the same?

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Making the most of your browser screen real estate

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.149.197.244] on May 29, 2008 02:02 PM
Gotta love that Vimperator! It's the only extension I use on my EEE.

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Making the most of your browser screen real estate

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.180.186.59] on May 31, 2008 03:56 PM
EEE 900 + Firefox 3 + Vimperator 1.* + littlefox = Excellent Browsing experience :)

(I don't even use F11)

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