A First Reaction to Firefox 29’s Visual Makeover - With Video

| John Martellaro's Blog

Mozilla has released Firefox 29 with a new, easy-on-the-eyes, more usable user interface. A new customization mode, easy access menu, sleeker tabs, and a consistent look across platforms have been introduced.

This is not a formal review. It's not even a quick look review. Rather, it's my first-blush reaction to Firefox 29.

My readers know that I have been a big fan of Mozilla's Firefox for a long time. The reason is so eloquently and perfectly summarized by Jack Schofield at ZDNet that I won't even try to rephrase it.

The main reason for switching to Firefox is that, overall, it's better than Chrome. But there are other reasons. The most important is that Firefox is the only major browser that is written to serve users and the open web. Other leading browsers may sometimes do that, but their primary function is to serve the needs of giant corporations — Apple, Google and Microsoft — none of which has any interest in preserving your privacy. Usually the reverse, in fact.

The next most important thing is the introductory video from Mozilla VP of Firefox Johnathan Nightingale. In less than two minutes of video, Mr. Nightingale reveals the important visual changes to version 29.


For the sake of completeness, here is Mozilla's full list and description of new features.

Next, you can download the latest Firefox v.29 from this page at Mozilla.

Finally, my own observations are that I like this makeover a lot. Some of the features that had been developed previously are included now in a much more coherent fashion by using the menu icon at the top right.

Here's what the previous title, tab, bookmark and toolbar looked like.

And here's what it looks like now.

Notice how the tabs are cleaner, the current tab (far left) has a rounded and more noticeable shape. As before, the tabs don't try to shrink into unreadability, but rather stay the same size.

Unfortunately, the traditional title bar is off by default, a feature I've grown accustomed to in my workflow. It's recoverable with Menu > Customize > Title Bar. Unfortunately, this setting doesn't stick for me across a relaunch.

I really like the central menu button, now at the top right, for all one's favorite functions in one place. It's editable so that one can, for example drag add-ons there for easier access and customization. It's not only well organized, but more amenable to being touch enabled if necessary.

Firefox 29 still retains the separate search bar with its handy popup to select the desired search engine. I like that.

All in all, I've found Firefox 29 to be fast, friendly, and now very well organized and good looking. In terms of speed, the old days are gone when Firefox was considered slower and inferior compared to Google's Chrome.

You may perhaps feel an emotional attachment to Safari, but after you've used Firefox for a bit, it's noticeable, in little ways, how Firefox makes special efforts to protect you, especially with its wealth of optional add-ons. Updates are frequent, and Mozilla reacts quickly to security issues. You should give it a try. Unlike most other free software that has some hidden gotcha, Firefox is genuinely agenda-free and open source.

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I had already customized my Firefox, and admittedly I didn’t even watch the above video, I didn’t feel like jumping through a bunch of new hoops. I found it to be a train wreck. No matter what I did, I had tabs-on-top, until a found some a revert-to-classic add-on, and even then, my title, tab, bookmark and toolbars didn’t look anything like yours.

In the end, I used Time Machine to revert my profile and Firefox to version 28. This is the first time in many years where FF has disappointed me.


I’ve been using v29 in the beta stage for quite a while now, and found it to be rock solid. In fact, I tossed Chrome out in favor of FF.

For the first time in years, FF is actually usable.


I have to say I really like the improvements. They work for me and the design simplicity is nice. Overall, I think it is great.

John Dingler, artist

Hi John,
I rejoice in your joy.

Just regarding what is visually presented in the images showing the previous and resent title, tab, bookmark and toolbar, there is so little difference in them as to be virtually indistinguishable.

Perhaps the totality of differences, presumably improvements, make Firefox superior to Safari but, so far, I see nothing to compel me to download it.

Robert Johnson 1

By cleaner tabs do you mean tabs that can’t be seen?

FF29 stinks.

Now I’ll start working to get back to FF28.  I’ve been doing a lot of searching and the negatives about FF29 far outweigh those in favor of it.  TO each his own but I think it stinks, it is really a bit of a confusing mess!@


Man, what a huge improvement.  Why has it taken this long for FF not to look second rate?  I’m loving this.


Does it have multi-finger tap to zoom? Or how about pinch to zoom (I hacked this with BetterTouchTool, but nothing like Safari), and how about an integrated Reader? Sorry, but with my aging eyes, I really can’t find much to love about Firefox, and since i prefer the TreeStyle tabs already, the new tabs offer nothing, IMO. I like some things about FF, but the items mentioned above are a deal breaker. The day it offers them, I’ll probably switch.

Davide Coppola

Google Chrome reacts to Firefox 29…

#DesktopStories #webcomic #Chrome #Firefox

Anthony Grey

awful… the last thing i want out of firefox is a bad chrome ripoff UI. if i wanted chrome, i’d use chrome.

you can back most of the old UI with tons of options using the classic theme restorer:



At first glance I like it. I use FF at work and it’s been a solid performer. I’m looking forward to using this new version. The only reason I use Safari rather than FF at home is that I want to synch bookmarks across my Mac, iPod Touch, and iPad. Is there a way to do this with FF?



You’ve intrigued me to play with FF v29. I downloaded it, in any case, the day it came out just to see how it looked, felt. I concur, it is snappier than before. I’m not clear, however, from a technical perspective, that FF is inherently ‘safer’ or more secure than Safari, and would be interested in hearing more about that.

On my system at least (MBP Core i7 running OS X 10.9.2) pinch and tap to zoom, etc does not work. I just tried it, based on your question.

I think you can sync your bookmarks, etc using FF Sync under the ‘Tools’ menu. You simply need to log in, then set which device to sync, such as your iPhone, which should port your synchronised bookmarks from Safari to FF. I haven’t done this yet, myself, as I am not fully committed to going all out on FF, but will try later. Let me know if you don’t succeed.


I actually like the way the tabs are ( sort of) as compared to what I was stuck with for the last few revs. You used to be able to take away all the bars (except title and tabs) which was very useful to fit more info on a small screen. But then they took that away. Now with this version I can remove the title bar which gives me almost the same result.

That “new” area where you put addons though I think is a result of their work on FF for Mobile (which sadly no longer includes iOS ).

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