Awesome Firefox 3 Improvements

Firefox logoNow that you’ve upgraded Firefox to version 3, you’re probably wondering what all the fuss was about, well Mozilla itself, as you’d perhaps expect, has a nice round-up of the new features. But, fellow bloggers have highlighted dozens of features you may not have got around to testing yet.

enbite highlights one of the big new features, the Smart Location Bar, which the blog refers to as the Awesome Bar. This new address bar helps you find the sites you love in seconds simply by entering a term for instant matches that make sense, even more sense than smart options in Google Toolbar one might say.

Gina Trapani on Lifehacker shows you how you can get Firefox to tell you how often you visit particular sites. The built-in usage tracking in Firefox 3 keeps a running tally of how often you visit a web page over a period of time, which informs the Smart Location Bar’s suggestions and creates things like smart bookmark lists of “Most Visited” sites, explains Trapani. “Smarter features informed by your behavior are great, but checking out the raw data can offer a whole lot of insight into where and how you spend your time online.” Check out how to do that here.

ghacks provides a summary of the spruced up page information tool in Firefox 3. Reach the tool by clicking on the favicon of any site you’re visiting and choosing the “More information…” button, you get to see media information, cookies, rss feeds, even whether you’ve saved a password for that site.

And, speaking of passwords. FF3 has a souped up password manager that is far less annoying and intrusive than the previous version. Mozilla Links has the skinny on that from the earliest beta test versions of FF3.

Over on Zoran’s space, there’s a nice run down of the top ten improvements in reverse order from 10 to 2: Souped-up Add-ons manager, More intuitive interface overall, Stronger phishing and malware protection, Improved download manager, Native looks for every system, Streamlined “Remember password” handling, Smart bookmarks, Places Organizer replaces the Bookmark Manager, Smart Location Bar learns how you browse.

Absolutely, the best improvement with this version of Firefox is an eradication of one of the biggest problems with previous versions of Firefox – its memory drain and RAM hogging impact on performance. With version 3, we not only get a much improved interface with a stack of new features, but an incredibly zippier browser altogether. It boots up faster than ever before, even with a dozen add-ons installed, it restarts (when prompted) within seconds, and with half a dozen tabs open I’m still seeing a stable Mem Usage in Windows XP task manager, previous versions seem to spiral out of control very quickly. It’s still possible that Sciencetext’s tips for speeding up Firefox and reducing boot times still more will have an effect, but I don’t feel like I need to implement them right now because it’s so sweet.

Author: David Bradley

Freelance science journalist, author of Deceived Wisdom. Photographer and musician.