Updated: March 29, 2014
You have reached this article because you are displeased with the moronic new look featured in Firefox 29 and above, or even earlier versions of the Aurora pre-beta channel. You are not pleased with the pseudo-Chrome layout, and you want to restore the saner classic looks that existed in Firefox so far. Worry not. You've come to the right place.
In this article, I will show you, step by step, all the tools, add-ons and settings needed to obtain the standard behavior, within 99% of what it used to be. This will allow you to continue using Firefox without the Australis interface. Follow me.
Following the upgrade or a new installation, your Firefox may now look like this silly thing shown in the screenshot below, the would-be Chrome wannabe from Mozilla:
The very first thing you want to do is install the Classic Theme Restorer addon, which will help you sort out some of the problems seen above. Namely, this little extension lets you use tabs below the address bar, use square tabs, separate the back and forward buttons and detach them from the address bar, and many other neat fixes.
After you install the extension, please examine the Options. The important settings are available on the Main and Special tabs. Under Main, Tabs, selected Squared tabs and Tabs not on top. Under Application button, change the color and placement. In the right pane, under General UI, restore the Statusbar at the bottom of the browser window, and make sure you check Movable back-forward button.
On the Special tab, white color separators will make the GUI look friendlier, and restore the older feel. Of course, you can always make additional changes. But these few options are basic guidelines to getting it right.
If you've followed my Firefox reviews, then you are already using this extension. Good. Open its options, and let's do some more tweaking. Once again, there are many settings you can play with, but the important ones are available under Status and Progress.
Under General, you can choose where to display the status text and links. If you do not want them to hover in an ugly fashion over displayed web pages, use the Toolbar option from the drop down menu. This needs an additional tweak, see Customization below. If you do choose popups, then you might want to disable links swapping sides when they hover too close to a linked item.
Lastly, to see the progress of loaded pages, you can display a bar in the location bar, or the address bar if you will. This is handy if you do not wish to use the Progress Bar, but more about that in a jiffy.
But this is not all. You will have to right-click the top section of the browser window, inside one of the toolbars, and select Customize. Next, remove all the buttons you do not want, and add the new ones. This also includes the Back and Forward buttons, which you will have hopefully decoupled from the address bar earlier.
In order to have the Status Bar behave properly, you will have to add the Status Text field in there. You can also place additional space items to get the right layout in case some of the items bother you.
The Progress Meter is another handy button, but it will not auto-hide, so consider this an aesthetic setback. Still, it's quite good. You can resolve the problem by tweaking the Status-4-Evar options as shown earlier.
You can get classic buttons shape if you want, or even use a new set. The Classic Toolbar Buttons will do the former, while the NoUn Buttons extension unmerges and separates the back and forward functions. Whoever thought this was a good idea? Combined with the movable option, this really gives you a great layout flexibility.
My recommendation here is only to use the Classic Theme Restorer, to get the back and forward button movable and detach it from the address bar. Then, use the customize option to place the two buttons where they belong. Finally, use the Classic Toolbar Buttons to get the desired layout.
Firefox 29 with the failing Australis interface places the toolbar bookmark icons and text too tightly, so you might want to space them out. Adding spaces to the bookmarks names is a very handy and simple hack for getting the desired result. You can also install the Roomy Bookmarks Toolbar addon and select normal spacing to get the best results. But if you need more, you will have to use the hack.
Very easy, as shown here. No need to stare at silly thumb dial. Just hit that little 9-icon square in the right corner to toggle the function on and off, and this is really all there is to this one small menace.
This is what the final product looks like, with the classic looks restored. Now, I've also taken the screenshot of the About page, so that you are fully convinced of the endeavor. Pretty tight, but so really unnecessary. And now you can play with the layout, adding and removing blank spacing, shifting buttons about and whatever you fancy.
Ergo, thank you Mozilla for this unneeded effort.
And we're done. Now some masterpiece material:
Firefox suckfest - a must read for everyone
Firefox Directory Tiles thingie
There's more; search and enjoy!
A total of some 40 minutes and 5 extensions later, you will have your old, classic Firefox interface available again, with none of the Chrome-wannabe stupidity that Mozilla is trying to force on sane people. I truly hope you find this guide very useful for your needs.
For the time being, I will keep using Firefox, because there's no real, good alternative. I do not want to use Chrome and friends, so I am waiting for a new company to rise, develop its own browser, hopefully with some promise of open-source and cross-platform concepts woven in there, and then I will ditch Firefox once and for all. I'm tired of this crap, and the way they sold their loyal userbase. Oh, the revenge of the nerds. Yup. Because Mozilla double-crossed the very people who made it so popular. But they shall pay.
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