Firefox Quantum is here, and that is full of improvements including the new Photon interface. Photon replaces the “Australis” interface used since 2014 and offers a multitude of customization options. Which is good because there are some annoyances – like all that empty space on either side of the URL bar.
Quickly delete items from the toolbar (including empty spaces)
Let’s start with the simplest option: remove items you do not like in the toolbar. There are a lot of ways to do it, but here’s the quickest: right-click on any of the items (including blanks surrounding the URL bar), then select the command ” Remove from the toolbar ”
Note that spaces, just like the toolbar buttons, are not entirely functionless. You can move the window by clicking and dragging it, which can be useful because there is less space to click at the top of the window than in older versions of Firefox.
Add New Buttons and Rearrange Toolbar
You can also add buttons to the toolbar. Right-click the spaces (or anywhere else in the toolbar other than the URL bar) and choose the “Customize” option. This allows you to make larger changes to the user interface.
Keep in mind that if you upgrade from Firefox version 56, the default customization settings may be slightly different from those of a new installation. For example, Firefox got the search bar when I updated on my desktop, but it was missing when I made a fresh install on my laptop.
It is easy to modify the elements of the user interface from the personalization window. Just click and drag the desired item in the toolbar to add it or drag items to the Customize menu to delete them. This includes empty spaces (or “Flexible”) surrounding the default URL bar.
You can also drag items into the side window to add them to the overflow menu (which you can access by clicking on the icon with two arrows). This is fine for tools that you use quite often and want to reach quickly, but do not need to take up space all the time.
Many extensions (at least the that still work in Firefox Quantum) also add buttons to the toolbar. You can also move these icons, rearrange them, or hide them if you do not need them.
Installing New Themes
Firefox Quantum includes three stock themes, as well as some more fanciful themes. Click on the “Themes” button at the bottom of the “Customize” window to access them. The default theme is shown below (and in all screenshots above).
If you want to reduce the glare of your screen (and save some power if you have an OLED display ), you can choose the Dark theme.
The Light theme is more in the style of older versions of Firefox.
By clicking on “Get More Themes” at the bottom of the Theme menu, you access the Mozilla Thematic Repository where you can download even more.
Render Toolbar and Smaller Buttons with “Compact” Mode
Quantum Firefox allows you to control the size of UI elements by modifying the “Density” setting at the bottom of the Customize window. Most users will be satisfied with the “Normal” setting, but the “Compact” setting is ideal for people who want to insert a few more pixels into web pages (or more buttons in the toolbar). There is also a “Touch” setting that provides extra-large, thumb-friendly icons. By default, Firefox on Windows 10 will switch to the “Touch” setting if you put the operating system in tablet mode . The screenshot below uses the “Compact” setting. Note that icons and tabs are smaller.
Bring back the favorites bar, the menu bar and the title bar
The Firefox interface is pretty streamlined these days, but if you’re a fan of old elements of the UI like the bookmarks bar, the title bar and the menu bar (with drop-down menus File, Edit, etc.), you can drag these bars.
To enable the bookmarks bar, click the “Toolbars” drop-down list at the bottom of the Customize window, then enable the “Favorite Toolbar” option.
You can also activate the menu bar in this same drop-down list. Most of the features of the menu bar have been copied and moved to the rest of the Firefox user interface in recent years, so it’s not really necessary unless you prefer to have this bar old school menu. Alternatively, you might find it easier to simply press Alt to bring up the menu bar when you need it. When done, press Alt again to make it disappear.
Finally, you can activate the title bar in the Customize window. It does not appear in the “Toolbars” drop-down menu (as it is not a toolbar), but you can enable a checkbox “Title bar” in the lower left corner of the window. Honestly, though, we think Chrome had the good idea to kill the title bar in 2008 (and Firefox Quantum, now). This takes up a lot of space to display relatively little information.
If you do not need the full title bar, but you still want to grab something and drag the window, consider enabling the “Drag Space” check box. This option adds a few pixels above the top of the tabs, giving you more space to click and drag the window.
Note that the Drag Space only appears if the window is not maximized. Unless you switch from one group of monitors to another, there is not really any need to slide out of space when Firefox occupies the entire screen.
Also keep in mind that moving space and the title bar are not your only two options for moving the window. You can also click and drag the flexible spaces that we deleted earlier, or any blank space in the tab bar, including the little space between the tab controls and the minimize button.
Stop the Downloads button for auto-masking
From Quantum Firefox, the “Downloads” button only appears when you download a file, phasing, and outputting as needed. If you are not a fan of the UI objects that appear, you can force the button to stay in place. With the “Customize” window open, click the “Downloads” button, then disable the “Auto hide” option.
It only took a few minutes, but I finished customizing Firefox Quantum. I’ve removed the flexible spaces and Home buttons, Search and Sidebars. I stopped downloading Donwloads automatically, I activated Spaces, added icons for some extensions that I used and I went into Compact mode with the Dark theme.
Is not she a beauty?