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Web Browsers


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Current Version: 3.6.7 (July 21, 2010)

Firefox is a pretty simple product: a simple, standalone web browser from the same team of engineers who brought you the old Netscape and Mozilla "all-in-one" browser/email products. It's a perfect complement to the Thunderbird standalone email client / Usenet newsreader.

Firefox is not merely the original Mozilla browser with some user interface tweaks. Many hundreds of thousands of lines of code were added or changed from the Mozilla base. For instance, preferences are handled quite differently, in a much more user-friendly manner. As with Mozilla, Firefox's interface can be changed using themes, but Firefox - unlike Mozilla - allows you to go even further by customizing many other aspects of the user interface, including the toolbar, and much more.

Most importantly, a huge variety of Firefox Extensions enable various enhancements to the browsing experience. These are essentially small programs (or add-ons) that add new functionality to Firefox. Extensions enable Firefox to stay small and unbloated, while still enabling a great deal of customization (and additional features) to those who are more demanding. My particular favorite is the brilliant Web Developer toolbar, which adds a host of features that enable you to view and test various technical aspects of a web site, in surprisingly powerful ways.

The next natural question is: why not use Camino, which (like Firefox) has all of the great browsing characteristics of Mozilla, but with a "native" Mac OS X interface? That's a good question, but one answer lies in the fact that Firefox - being a multiplatform project - seems to be along a much more comprehensive track of improvement and fine tuning, while Camino sees much less substantial enhancement on a regular basis. More tellingly, Firefox's remarkable extensions are not supported in Camino.

Firefox is speedy, extensible, renders web pages exceptionally well, and has a highly evolved tabbed browsing interface. As of June 2008, it still clearly provides the fastest, smoothest browsing experience yet on the Mac platform. Safari has caught up to Firefox in many respects, but since Firefox is used by Windows and Linux users as well, it has undergone incredibly exhaustive testing, and has become an indisputable standard in the web browsing arena. It is critical for Mac users to take notice of such an important, widely-supported application that happens to run very well on the Macintosh platform. By using and supporting Firefox, you actually help foster a more egalitarian, platform-agnostic take on the Web - and that's what the Web is really all about.

Version 3.6 is a must-download release that aims to substantially refine version 3.5's already-polished browsing experience. Highlights include:

  • Changes to how we allow third party software to integrate with Firefox in order to prevent crashes.
  • Available in more than 70 languages - get your local version.
  • The ability to run scripts asynchronously to speed up page load times.
  • Users can now change their browser's appearance with a single click, with built in support for Personas.
  • Firefox 3.6 will alert users about out of date plugins to keep them safe.
  • Open, native video can now be displayed full screen, and supports poster frames.
  • Support for the WOFF font format.
  • Improved JavaScript performance, overall browser responsiveness and startup time.
  • Support for new CSS, DOM and HTML5 web technologies.

One caveat:

  • Version 3.6 - as with versions 3.5, 3.0, 2.0 and 1.5 - provides Java functionality via the sometimes-flaky Java Embedding Plugin, which helps Carbon-based browsers take advantage of Apple's latest Cocoa-based Java framework (which powers Java in Safari and all browsers based upon Apple's "WebKit"). The problem here is that the Java Embedding Plugin is a "hack" in the truest sense of the word, and this may cause flakiness (especially in the browser's user interface) when viewing pages containing Java applets. Disabling Java support in Firefox's preferences - or removing the "MRJPlugin.plugin" and "JavaEmbeddingPlugin.bundle" files from the folder altogether may be your best bet at getting a foundation of stability with Java-based pages that may otherwise cause you problems.

Version 3.6.7 makes the following additional changes:

The Burning Edge and the Firefox release note archive have more detailed information regarding this and all previous releases.

User Reviews

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Download the Mac OS X 10.4+ (Carbon / Universal) version.

Version 4.0 beta 1 (July 7, 2010) is available for Mac OS X 10.4+ (Carbon / Universal). A 64-bit version is also available for Intel Macs. This release adds/changes the following:

  • Tabs are now on top by default on Windows only - OS X and Linux will be changing when the theme has been modified to support the change.
  • On Windows Vista and Windows 7 the menu bar has been replaced with the Firefox button.
  • You can search for and switch to already open tabs in the Smart Location Bar
  • New Addons Manager and extension management API (UI will be changed before final release)
  • Significant API improvements are available for JS-ctypes, a foreign function interface for extensions.
  • The stop and reload buttons have been merged into a single button on Windows, Mac and Linux.
  • The Bookmarks Toolbar has been replaced with a Bookmarks Button by default (you can switch it back if you'd like).
  • Crash protection for Windows, Linux, and Mac when there is a crash in the Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime or Microsoft Silverlight plugins.
  • CSS Transitions are partially supported.
  • Full WebGL support is included but disabled by default at this time.
  • Core Animation rendering model for plugins on Mac OS X. Plugins which also support this rendering model can now draw faster and more efficiently.
  • Native support for the HD HTML5 WebM video format.
  • An experimental Direct2D rendering backend is available on Windows, turned off by default.
  • Web developers can use Websockets for a low complexity, low latency, bidirectional communications API.
  • Web developers can update the URL field without reloading the page using HTML History APIs.
  • More responsive page rendering using lazy frame construction.
  • Link history lookup is done asynchronously to provide better responsiveness during pageload.
  • CSS :visited selectors have been changed to block websites from being able to check a user's browsing history.
  • New HTML5 parser.
  • Support for more HTML5 form controls.

The online release notes have more information, including a list of known issues.

Also See . . .

Can't find what you're looking for? Try a search:

Also, if you have an older Mac, be sure to check out the "Classic" applications page for more options.

Finally, take a look at ALEMIA if you think you know that name of an application, but aren't quite sure.

Related Links

Are you looking for an older version of a browser, but can't seem to find it? The Browser Archive and Darrel Knutson's Macintosh Web Browser Page are the places to visit!

Also Consider . . .

These are applications that are newer and of potential interest, but which I haven't yet selected for permanent inclusion. Have a look, and let me know if you think they deserve to be part of the permanent collection!