Firefox 4 Beta 2 struts appealing features that go beyond 'Tab Candy'

Beta 2 of Mozilla's revamped browser just hit the streets, and even if you love Google Chrome or Opera (or even IE!), you should take a look at these tips for Firefox 4

The folks at Mozilla just released beta 2 of their revamped and redesigned Firefox browser. You can download Firefox 4 beta 2 from the Firefox beta site.

Tabs on top, a la Google Chrome -- the most frequently mentioned new feature -- is only part of the story. Also new with beta 2 is the ability to create lopped-off little tabs, called App Tabs, that help you keep frequently used pages up, grouped, and available.

[ Also on InfoWorld: John E. Dunn dives deeper into Firefox 4 Tab Candy in "Mozilla to transform Firefox interface with new tab design." | Discover what's new in business applications with InfoWorld's Technology: Applications newsletter and Killer Apps blog. ]

In my tests, Firefox 4 beta 2 crashed far too frequently, but I expect Mozilla will have patches available shortly.

Here are a few tricks with this updated browser that may not be immediately apparent:

  • When you run Firefox 4 under Windows Vista or Windows 7, there's a new "Firefox" box at the top that occupies a fair amount of room and doesn't do much. The box, like the orbs in Office 2007 applications, takes over some of the functions of the old File menu, but in a very obfuscating way. Disabling the Firefox box is as easy as right-clicking an empty spot to the right of the box and choosing Menu Bar.
  • I like having tabs on top, but if you don't, you can move them back down by right-clicking on an empty spot at the top of the window and unchecking the box marked Tabs on Top.
  • To see how the new sawed-off shotgun tabs work, right click on a tab and choose Make Into App Tab. The new mini-tab appears way over on the left. It's supposed to stick around -- persist between sessions -- but I had trouble getting them to come back. Still, you can see where the feature's going -- kind of a home tab collection that doesn't get bumped. Tabs can be grouped and handled as a group, with sharing among multiple users as well as the ability to log on to the same site with two different user IDs and have the tabs appear in two separate groups. The jury's still out, but I think I'm going to like it.

I also like the new ticking-clock page-loading icon and the merged reload and stop buttons. But those are nits.

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