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Less Chrome

Note: I wrote most of this post last September, but never finished it until today.

Like many others, I recently downloaded and tried out Google’s new web browser, Chrome. It has some interesting and innovative ideas, but due to a few key missing features and one hard-to-overlook philosophical difference, I have not become an avid user. Firefox remains my browser of choice, and with its wonderful array of plug-ins and hacks, I have managed to “port” Chrome’s best feature to Firefox.

The first thing that annoyed me about Chrome was that forward slash did not initiate a quick search, as it does in Firefox. I use forward slash all the time to perform searches, and this annoyed me. I also noticed that Chrome skinned the window’s title bar. To me, the title bar is “sacred” territory. In my world view, the title bar belongs to the Operating System, not the application. Applications that skin it away don’t get much traction with me.

So, I happily went back to Firefox, but then one thing that Chrome didn’t have started to bug me in Firefox because Firefox did have it. And that was various bars cluttering up the vertical viewing space in Firefox. From the top, I had the tile bar (which I like), the menu bar (which I rarely use), the navigation bar (useful and necessary), my bookmark bar (which I use, but not all the time), the page content, and finally, the status bar (which is only useful when hovering links, loading pages, or using a feature such as Adblock).

Google Chrome, on the other hand, got rid of most of these except when you needed them, which I thought was a wonderful idea. So I went about getting Firefox to behave the same way. It is, I am happy to report, possible and, in my opinion so far at least, wonderful.

Note: I originally experimented with removing the status bar, I have since brought the status bar back; the extensions I tried never got it quite right, and made some web sites work less well. This was months ago, so I don’t remember all the extensions I tried, but I am open to new ideas.

The extension I still use is called “Hide Menubar” — it allows me to get rid of the menubar unless I press “Alt.” I then put all of my bookmarks on the menubar, so they only show up when I want them. Altogether, my verical space takers went from 5 bars — Title, Menu, Navigation, Bookmarks, and Status, to 3 bars — Title, Navigation, and Status. The difference is quite nice, and I suggest it to anyone looking to regain some screen real estate while surfing the web.

5 Responses to “Less Chrome”

  1. Spencer Says:

    Interestingly, Safari 4 copies the chrome tabs-at-the-top. Can someone explain why? Is there some reason the sandboxing stuff required rearranging the normal GUI?

  2. Daniel Marsh Says:

    I have plenty of screen real estate on my main computer, thanks to a 24″ monitor, so I don’t worry too much about suppressing menu bars in Firefox. On my UMPC and my Acer Aspire One, which have 1024*600 displays, I use an extension called Fullerscreen to maximize the viewable content area.

  3. Stickman Says:

    There’s one other thing Chrome does that I love. When filling out text boxes, like this one I’m typing into now, you can RESIZE IT by grabbing the lower right corner. Why no one’s thought of that before, I have no idea.

  4. nordsieck Says:


    There is a good resizer bookmarklet here:


    I really like this “feature” – if frees up a few more pixels and I don’t see the downside, as long as it becomes semi-standardized.

  5. Ryan Says:

    Spencer — I think the tabs above the address bar isn’t required by sandboxing; rather it just makes more sense when you realize that each tab is its own process, and really not related to other tabs very much or at all. When you come from that perspective, the address bar within the tab makes a lot more sense — it belongs to the tab, not the application.

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