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Firefox 4 Friday: 25 million downloads, anti-aliasing, and how to make it look like Firefox 3

Firefox 4 racks up 25 million downloads in 3 days
If you've had your head under a rock for the last few days, here's this week's Firefox news in brief: Firefox 4 was finally released.

Yes, 13 months after the initial release of Firefox 3.7 alpha 1 and four more alpha builds, a renumbering to 4.0 and 12 beta releases, and finally a release candidate (or two), Firefox 4 has been released into the wild.

Just like every other Firefox release, initial reception for the new browser has been nothing short of insane. 7.1 million downloads were registered in the first 24 hours and the download rate continued to accelerate, clocking in more than 15 million downloads after two days. At the time of writing, three days in, Firefox 4 has been downloaded over 25 million times. In case you're wondering, the United States accounts for 7 million of those downloads, just beating out Germany's Firefox-downloads-per-capita.

But now that you've installed Firefox 4 (you have, right?), what do you do now? Well, obviously, in true Download Squad fashion, it's time to tweak Firefox 4 using add-ons and about:config hacks!

First up is an add-on called Stratiform that lets you change every aspect of the Firefox 4 browser chrome -- including the color of that orange button!


Stratiform

Customize Firefox 4's UI with Stratiform
Commenter techfreak15 pointed out this fantastic add-on a few days ago -- and he's right, it's definitely an essential Firefox 4 add-on. Stratiform lets you modify almost every aspect of Firefox 4's new UI, which has undergone some rather drastic changes since Firefox 3.

First and foremost, it lets you change the color, brightness, and opacity of the Firefox (or 'app menu') button. You can change the label, too. If you want to completely remove it, you'll need to use Movable Firefox Button.

Beyond the orange button, Stratiform lets you play with your tab style, width, height and color -- and it allows you to change the style of buttons (back, forward, refresh) and textboxes (address and search bars).

All of the changes occur in real time, too, which makes playing with Stratiform rather fun. I now have a pink Firefox button and green tabs...

Fine-tune Firefox 4's anti-aliasing

With Firefox 4 for Windows, Direct2D is utilized to provide hardware acceleration and improved, smoothed font rendering.

While in most cases the result is clear and smooth text, there are some cases where you might want to make small, barely-perceptible changes -- and that's where Anti-Aliasing Tuner comes in.

Anti-Aliasing Tuner lets alter the anti-aliasing mode (default, ClearType, Greyscale), rendering mode (default, Aliased, GDI Classic/Natural, Natural/Natural Symmetric, Outline), and various levels and thresholds for when to turn smoothing on, and by how much.

Unfortunately you can't see your changes in real time, so it can be quite hard to see the changes you make!

[thanks to commenter Yansky for pointing out this add-on!]

Miss the RSS icon in Firefox 4's address bar?

In the search for a svelte, spartan, Chromesque UI, Firefox's address bar RSS icon got axed. To be fair, there's probably a rational reason for this: most feed readers can auto-detect RSS feeds when you give them a website URL.

If you want the icon back, however, simply install RSS Icon. If a page only has one RSS feed, clicking it opens your default feed handler; if multiple feeds are detected, it pops open a menu of the feeds on the page.

Make Firefox 4 look like Firefox 3

Make Firefox 4 look like Firefox 3
Whenever any popular thing gets overhauled (New Coke!) there are always a (cult-like) following who would rather keep things just the way they were -- and Firefox 4 is no exception.

Maybe you like the status bar. Maybe you want your valuable vertical pixels to be ruthlessly stolen by the menu bar. There are probably even a few weird individuals that would like their tabs to be back beneath the address bar -- back where they belong!

To make Firefox 4 look like Firefox 3, just follow these simple steps:
  • To restore the menu bar, right click any empty area at the top of the browser and then select Menu Bar
  • To restore the status bar, grab the fantastically-named Status-4-Evar add-on
  • To put tabs under the address bar, right click any empty area at the top of the browser and then deselect Tabs on Top
If you've found an add-on that's helped you cope with the transition to Firefox 4, let us know in the comments!

Tags: add-on, add-ons, addon, addons, apps, browser, browsers, extension, extensions, features, ff 4, Ff4, firefox, firefox 4, firefox friday five, Firefox4, FirefoxFridayFive, fx4, mozilla, web

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