Saturday, May 21, 2011

LessChrome HD Hides Firefox’s Urlbar

LessChrome HD for Firefox is an add-on that hides part of the Chrome user interface in the browser. The add-on hides the urlbar in the browser so that only the tabbar and Firefox menu are shown when the browser is used. This feature may remind you of the compact navigation feature in Chrome, that’s offering a fairly similar experience. Chrome Canary and Chromium users can enable compact navigation in the list of experimental features.

The Firefox urlbar is displayed on the screen on certain user actions, for instance when a new blank tab is opened or when the mouse cursor is moved on a tab. The hiding and displaying is automatic and requires no user interaction. Moving the mouse on a tab displays that tabs url which can be used to identify and verify a website.

When you switch tabs, you will see the urlbar and thus the address of the website which can be used as an indicator to identify the website properly. It is the same urlbar that you see without installing the add-on, which means you see the protocol and the website address directly.

Be aware that LessChrome HD works only if you use a default layout in the web browser. I’m using a different layout which caused the add-on to hide my tabbar, and not the urlbar (I’m not using the navigational toolbar at all, only the menubar to display the urlbar and menu).

Firefox users who work on low resolution monitors benefit from the add-on the most. Think of netbooks for instance where every additional pixel to display the website and not the browser interface may improve the browsing experience.

Users with high resolution monitors on the other hand may not see much of a change unless they run the browser in a small window on the screen.

Some users may also prefer to see the website address all the time for security purposes.

Here is a short video that demonstrates the functionality of LessChrome HD in the Firefox web browser.

The extension has been designed to be restartless, which means that you do not have to restart the browser after installation or uninstallation.

You can install LessChrome HD from the official Firefox add-on repository. The add-on is compatible with all versions of the Firefox web browser starting with version 4. The developer page with the announcement is here.

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