Firefox 2.0: Not Radical, but Just Right

Mozilla's return volley isn't as strong as Microsoft's serve, but does it need to be?

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Protected With Session Restore

I can attest to the advantages of this feature already. It saved me 30 minutes of writing work when a MacBook Pro computer that has been experiencing infrequent spontaneous restarts picked the wrong time to die on me. I had just finished a long, detailed blog post with lots of hyperlinks and was literally only seconds from making it live. When the Mac came back up, I launched Firefox: Not only was the Web page there, but so was my entire post. This feature alone is well worth upgrading to 2.0 for.

In fact, according to Mozilla's release notes, Session Restore restores windows, tabs, text typed in forms, and in-progress downloads from the last user session. It activates automatically when you're installing a Firefox update or extension.

Perhaps the best part about Session Restore is that its interface is truly simple -- in the very best Firefox tradition. There are no settings. You don't turn it on and off. When the browser shuts down unexpectedly, it displays the Session Restore dialog box on relaunch, giving you the option to restore your previous session or start a new one. That's it. That's all you need in Firefox, since it already had the ability to save and reopen tab sets -- a feature commonly extended by browser-session-restoring functions.

If Firefox crashes, just restart the browser and click Restore Session to get back to where you were
 

If Firefox crashes, just restart the browser and click Restore Session to get back to where you were (Click to see larger view)

Test it for yourself. Open three tabs and load Web pages into them. Under Windows, open Task Manger (click Ctrl-Alt-Del and select Task Manager), click the Processes tab, select the "firefox.exe" entry, and click the End Process button. Now just relaunch Firefox to see Session Restore in action.

Say goodbye to the buggy Session Saver extension; you don't need it.

Dabbling with tabs

Mozilla has refined its tabbed-browsing features in Firefox 2.0. There are four main improvements to tabs:

1. The default tab settings direct Firefox to open all new links as tabs in the active Firefox browser window instance. Of course, if Firefox isn't already running, a new browser window will be opened. This behavior can be changed in the Tools > Options > Tabs settings area.

2. Recently closed tabs can be reopened by right-clicking the tab bar and choosing the Undo Close Tab menu item.

Firefox 2.0 lets you resurrect accidentally closed browser tabs
 

Firefox 2.0 lets you resurrect accidentally

closed browser tabs (Click to see larger view)

3. There are two new features aimed at people who like to run a dozen, two dozen or more tabs at all times. The right side of the tab bar now features a drop-down menu that lets you see all open tabs and quickly select the one you want. Also, once you have so many tabs that they can't fit into the width of your browser window, they begin to push off into the ether. When that happens, left and right buttons appear on the sides that let you click to scroll left or right, one tab at a time.

This drop-down menu pinned to the right side of the tab bar shows all your open tabs at a glance
 

This drop-down menu pinned to the right side

of the tab bar shows all your open tabs at a

glance (Click to see larger view)
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