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Conserve Space in Firefox by Combining Toolbars

I’m not a fan of wasted space in user interfaces, so any time I can consolidate down to only useful functionality I’m happy about it. The subject today is how to consolidate the Firefox toolbars down to just the items we actually use, to save space for the 45 tabs I like to have open.

Hide the Menu Toolbar with Personal Menu Extension

There are a number of ways to hide the Menu toolbar, but I prefer using the Personal Menu extension. Once you’ve installed the extension, you’ll be able to hide the menus toolbar:

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To show the menu toolbar again you can use the Alt key. You’ll also notice that some new items will be added to your menu, which can be customized or just removed.

Download Personal Menu Extension from Mozilla Add-ons

Combine Bookmarks Toolbar & Navigation Toolbar

You might already know this, but you can move the bookmarks from the Bookmarks toolbar and onto any other toolbar. Right-click on the menu and choose Customize…

image

Then click and drag the “Bookmarks Toolbar Items” to another toolbar… I chose to move them to the Navigation toolbar.

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Now you’ll be able to hide the Bookmarks Toolbar as shown:

image

If you hide the Status bar via the View menu, you’ll end up with an extremely streamlined browser:

image

There are other customizations you can do as well, such as removing the Go button to save even more space.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/10/07

Comments (26)

  1. Barron

    You could also save a lot of space by getting rid of all the buttons that I’m sure a real Keyboard Ninja like yourself never actually uses – New Tab (Ctrl-T), Home (Alt-Home), Refresh (F5).

    I also ditch the Forward button because I very rarely have a need for it.

  2. caveman_dick

    Or more simply why not press F11 and go to full-screen!! ;-)

  3. Barb

    I’m all about saving space, but any interface tweaks that require the metakeys aren’t worth the extra space when I’m using my tablet PC. For example, I would never consider turning off the Go button. I use my tablet as a slate about 95% of the time and it would be very irritating to write the url I need (Gmail, for example) and then have to open the TIP (on-screen text entry and keyboard area) again just to hit Enter. The Google Chat client irritates me to no end because I can’t find a way to send a message without opening the TIP to write, inserting the text (which automatically closes the TIP), and then opening it again to hit Enter. When my stylus acts as both mouse and keyboard, it’s much faster to use the Go button.

  4. J.C

    Why didn’t you suggest the Mozilla Add on called Disable menu? https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3300

    Its just as handy as the other add ons mentioned.

  5. Joe

    I use TinyMenu reduce the menus to a single word (“Menu”), rather than removing them entirely

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1455

    I use the menus infrequently, but probably at least a few times a month – many extension settings are accessed under the Tools menu.

    I never knew that you could drag all of your bookmark toolbar entries like that!

  6. The Geek

    @Barron:

    I am thinking of doing a keyboard ninja / firefox article… this was really aimed at people that do not realize you can combine toolbars.

    Good suggestion!

  7. Lily

    I’ve had my Firefox toolbars minimized down to a single bar at the top of the screen for ages.

    I use Firefox keywords for searches and shortcuts in the URL bar. I don’t need the Firefox search box because my keywords are extensive and precise.

    I use the Menu Editor Extension and put the things I use on the Tools Menu and in the Right Context Menu. Everything else gets hidden.

    I got rid of all of the other menus at the top ages ago using the userChrome.css file.

    The ability to combine and move things around was the reason I switched to Firefox to begin with.

  8. Sam Switzer

    you can save alot of space by removing the search bar and using search shortcuts. to add them right click on a web embedded search bar and click add [keyword for this search...] then you just have to type in the keyword, add a space and then put in the search words! I have mine set up as follows:

    g – search google

    gi – search google images

    y – search youtube

    sf – search sourceforge

    wiki – search wikipedia

    us – search userscripts.org

    imdb – search IMDb

    ud – search urban dictionary

    ex – search firefox addons

    and you can add many more from there, those are just my favorites.

  9. baiguai

    If you’re REALLY feeling ambitious and you want to have what is probably the most minimal firefox you can get – I would suggest Vimperator. My firefox has NO tabs, NO menu or toolbars, just a command line for entering my commands, and a statusbar. So far the only thing I haven’t figured out how to do through Vimperator is export/import my bookmarks (for that i need to set the menu to visible, use the bookmark manager, then hide the menu again).

  10. Ian Valencia

    Here’s what my Firefox looks like: http://i174.photobucket.com/albums/w118/ianvalencia/myfirefox_toolbars.png

    As Joe, I use “TinyMenu” to collapse the Menu toolbar to a single word, giving me lots of space and yet its still there for whenever I need it: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1455

    Since I always use a keyboard, I’ve kissed bye-bye to the Reload and Home buttons as Barron does. Also, I’ve gotten rid of the “Go” buttons for both the Location and the Search bars, with “CuteMenus – Crystal SVG” extension. This extension also iconifies every entry in the Menu toolbar (and even some entries put by other extensions) which, if you’re as visual as I am, you’ll find very useful: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1330

    Also, to get more functionality out of the Back/Forward buttons, I use the “Unified Back/Forward Button” extension to, well, unify or combine both buttons. This also gives me a little bit of free toolbar space (minimal, really): https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2210

    To get even more toolbar space, I use the “Searchbar Autosizer” extension, which contracts the Search Bar down (to several width options) when not in use, and expands it when you type (again, to several width options of your choice): https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1172

    I’m not using the bookmarks toolbar right now, but another excellent extension is “Smart Bookmarks Bar”, which displays just the favicon for your bookmarks entries, saving lots of space, and when you hoover your mouse over any entry, it will expand the entry to full size. It also gives the option the auto-hide the bookmarks bar. Very neat: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4072

    Cheers!

  11. MrD

    Ian Valencia — thanks so much for combining all those choices with easy-to-grasp explanations and the urls in one place!

    And thanks How-to Geek guy for the original article, too! I’m bookmarking this site for sure.

  12. Sriram

    Hi, I am not able to find the “Bookmarks Toolbar Items” in the customize box.. any suggestions?

  13. Sam Switzer

    @sriram Its not in the customize box, if you have the toolbar visible, when you enter the customize window the bookmarks will disappear and will be replaced with the text “Bookmarks Toolbar items.”

  14. Kevin

    There’s also a userChrome.css tweak that you can use that will combine the reload and stop buttons so they’re only available when they can actually be used. (IE if the page is loading, the reload button turns into a stop loading button, and if the page is already fully loaded, the stop loading button turns into a reload page button). It’s really handy for keeping the functionality of both buttons, but also saving up space.

    Here’s the code, just place it in your userChrome.css file if you want to use it:

    /* Merge Firefox Reload and Stop, NOTE: Stop button must be placed before Reload button */

    #stop-button[disabled] { display: none;}

    #stop-button:not([disabled]) + #reload-button {
    display: none;
    }

  15. Jason

    Thanks for this.
    The “customize” option is faded out and I can’t click it (when I right-click the menu bar.
    Any ideas?

  16. Chris

    Personal menu extension not yet compatible wiv Firefox 3 rc1 :(

  17. Nobody

    Thanks a lot to Joe and Ian Valencia for pointing to TinyMenu and Sam Switzer for teaching about keyword searches (I can’t believe I ignored this feature for that long). Great comments.

    The only relevant addons I can recommend are the one that adds a Restart Firefox menu/button (QuickRestart, http://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/3559) and the one that allows to remove and rearrange menu items (Menu Editor, http://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/710).

  18. Halo 3 Addict

    Thanks a lot for this idea!

    Since the release of Google Chrome Iíve been looking for a way to re-consolidate user space in Firefox the same way as itís done in G.Chrome.

    Regards,
    Dave

  19. Joel

    Thanks for that tip. I was using up so much space on my Firefox toolbars that I had lost 1/5th of my web browsing screen. Now I can “see” again! Thanks…

  20. baiguai

    Vimperator for Chrome (well, Chrome for Ubuntu) *could* convert me.

  21. Pat

    Firefox addon ‘Toolbar Buttons’ provides a button that toggles the menubar on/off. Just remember to put it on another toolbar ;)

  22. Victor

    wow, this guide is a life-saver because I have a netbook so browser real-estate is extremely precious! thanks a bunch!

  23. Curtis

    Thank you, I too use a netbook for a good portion of the day and although I did use some of these methods the other ones suggested helped things get under control especially the combine toolbars trick.I now have roboform and stumble upon combined with the address bar and the file menu hidden, this reclaims a good 1/2 an inch or more of screen realestate and on a netbook that makes a HUGE difference…and everything is still there and easily accessible.

    Thanks again!

  24. Kathy

    I love your emails and all the helpful tips. They are perfect for someone like me, who uses her PC all day but isn’t techie enough to take full advantage of it, or do things more productively without someone telling me it’s possible, then giving step-by-step instructions on how to do it.

    I’m currently using Windows 7 with Firefox 3.5.8. I’d love to combine the 4 rows I have at the top of my browser into one, but when I try the steps written in 2007, the Customize screen I get is very different. Could you give instructions that work for my version of Firefox?

    Thank you!

  25. SFC

    Hi,

    I use the Roboform add-on, and I can’t seem to combine it with any other toolbar. When I’m at the “Customise” window, I can’t drag the Roboform stuff onto the window to put it somewhere else because the hand-cursor thing doesn’t appear!

    Does anybody know how to do this?

    Thanks!

  26. mikka

    can i actually add some bookmarks onto a navigation bar?
    and there is a tiny line on the top with the red cross – it looks so useless. maybe there is a way putting some stuff on this top bar as well??? i do not have any buttons on this bar just 2 windows – google and general wesite – i could totally use this space :)
    thx

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