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Firefox 4: First Impressions

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Firefox 4 has been released for a week now, and for that week I’ve been using it exclusively on my Windows PC and MacBook. Here’s a quick look at the things I’ve noticed.

Speed. The first thing I noticed is how much quicker Firefox 4 is compared to Firefox 3. The difference is quite remarkable. Loading websites feels faster, and I suspect this is largely due to the javascript engine enhancements. It’s still not quite as fast as Google’s Chrome browser, but for some reason I still prefer Firefox over Chrome.

Interface. Firefox 4 received a much needed facelift. It took me some time to get used to it, but it’s definitely an improvement. The two biggest changes are the former “status bar” (now called the “add on bar”) is gone, and the tabs have been moved way up to the top. You can configure it to look exactly like Firefox 3 if you wish, but why waste the extra pixels if you don’t need to? They’ve also added “Pinned Tabs”, which work much like Chrome’s feature of the same name. This feature alone has enabled me to get rid of one of my extensions.

Panorama. Panorama is a new feature of Firefox 4 that allows you to group your tabs into workspaces. This is a welcome new feature, and I’m already using it extensively. The workspaces can be accessed from the panorama tab at the very right of the tab bar. From there you can drag and drop your tabs into your tab groups. Once the groups have been created you can search through them, etc. My favorite way to switch workspaces is with the ctrl/cmd-` keyboard shortcut, which is like alt/opt-tab for windows/mac. Use ctrl/cmd-shift-E to open the panorama screen. To search your tabs just start typing within the panorama screen and the matching tabs will be highlighted.

What are some of the features or improvements you’ve noticed?

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