How-To Geek

Firefox 4 Finally Released, and it Looks Like Opera [Screenshot Tour]


Firefox 4 has finally been released, and while it looks an awful lot like Opera, there’s no question that it’s faster, better, and an all-around great upgrade from 3.6. Here’s a couple of highlights.

The bottom line? If you use a ton of add-ons, you’re going to want to check them out before you upgrade, to make sure they are compatible. Firefox 4 changes the underlying extension architecture a great deal, and many add-ons just won’t work.

What’s New in Firefox 4.0

There’s a ton of new stuff in Firefox 4, especially behind the scenes. Here’s a couple of key changes:

  • New Interface that Looks Like Opera – The new Firefox interface is a huge improvement, but it does borrow some elements heavily from the Opera browser, especially the menu in the upper left.
  • Hardware Acceleration – Looks like everybody is implementing this now, since Microsoft put it into IE9, and it makes Firefox much, much faster.
  • New Add-ons Panel – you can now browse the add-ons through a very nice add-ons panel, built right in.
  • Internal Add-ons Changes – which break many of the add-ons out there. You’ll probably find that add-on compatibility isn’t as good, and even if you hacked Firefox to use the old add-ons, many of them won’t work well.

There’s a ton of other features, but you can always download and check it out.

Firefox Shows Up Late to the Party, Wearing the Same Opera Clothes

Yeah, we’re being a little hard on Firefox here—but it really does look like the Opera web browser. Click the screenshot for a larger view.


All I did was hide the Opera status bar (somebody please call Opera and tell them the status bar is dead), and remove a button or two.

The Menus Have Moved

If you’ve ever used Opera, you’ll see that Firefox now has the exact same style of menu, up in the upper left. It’s from here that you can get to things like the Add-ons, Options, and everything else.


Pinning App Tabs

If you’ve ever used Google Chrome, you’re familiar with the application tabs, which only show you an icon. They are now baked directly into Firefox instead of requiring an add-on. Definitely a good change.


Enabling Windows 7 Taskbar Previews

If you head into the Options panel, you can select the “Show tab previews in the Windows taskbar” option…


…which will show every tab as a separate window when you mouse over the taskbar icon. You can mouse over the tab, and Aero Peek will show a full-size preview of it.


Bringing the Menus Back

The menu bar is hidden by default, but if you hit the Alt key, it’ll show up temporarily—or you can just use one of the shortcut keys directly. Using Alt+F, for example, will bring up the File menu.


Private Browsing

Firefox has private browsing, which you can access from the Firefox menu on the upper left—the only problem is that it replaces your current session entirely—so if you had tabs open, they will be temporarily closed.

This is probably the one feature where Firefox could use some improvement—Google Chrome and IE have much nicer private browsing modes.


Tab Groups

If you hit Ctrl+Shift+E or use the little tab menu on the right of the tab bar, you can drag and drop to rearrange your open tabs into groups. It takes a little bit to get used to, but it’s an interesting way to manage loads of tabs.


All in all, you should still switch to Firefox 4, it’s blazing fast, and a huge improvement.

Just check your extensions first.

Download Firefox from

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 03/22/11

Comments (87)

  1. Hatryst

    Opera + Chrome + IE (for the problems) + major improvements = “Firefox 4”
    Yes, really…

    P.S . FF4 has the “paste and go” functionality as well.

  2. cowgod

    HowToGeek, please, please, please tell us how we can fix two MAJOR omissions from Firefox 4:
    – F6 no longer focuses the location bar
    – When I have multiple tabs open and close the browser, I am no longer prompted to save my tabs

    It is absolutely ridiculous that Mozilla removed these features and I will NEVER use Firefox 4 as my main browser until they are resolved. This is coming from someone who is a huge Firefox fan and can’t stand Chrome.

  3. bah

    Well to be fair, the menu on the top was inspired by Ms Office 2007 both in Opera and FF.

  4. adamas
  5. obIvan Kenobi

    Meh.. all in all I’m staying with Opera,, fastest browser on earth + it has always set the tone of what all the other browsers will look like after a year anyways

  6. johnp80

    I could be wrong, but I believe that FF actually moved their menu before Opera came out with theirs(I’ve been using the beta’s from firefox), I was slightly suprised the last time I had to download Opera to test something(only a page I designed myself, since I was 99% certain that it didn’t have spyware, viruses or other undesirable things in it, I don’t trust Opera any more than IE or safari)

  7. Dave


    F6 followed by Tab will focus the Location bar, or Ctrl+L.
    Or this extension will make F6 focus the location bar:

    It should warn you about closing multiple tabs. If you’re using a profile upgraded from 3.6, try un-ticking and re-ticking the option in Options – Tabs, or checking about:config and searching for “warnOn” to check those settings.

  8. adamas


    No they did not. Opera was the first to change their look.

  9. TBueno

    Isn’t anyone else bothered by the new window borders? They are way too thick and look ugly. W7 frames are fat enough for touch interface, they didn’t have to “improve” on that.

  10. Gloorian


    @Hatryst: Opera has this thread for a long time…

    But, frankly, Firefox has so copied Opera….

  11. Dave

    I can help there: In ‘Personalize’, choose ‘Window Color and Appearance’. Under Advanced, choose “Border Padding” and select your desired thickness.

    I might be missing a step somewhere before ‘Advanced’ as I don’t have Aero, but you should be able to find it.

  12. rino
  13. blazer

    personally its no biggy Firefox 4… Ok its faster than 3.6, but it has no match for Chrome 10 and it aint even got FULL hardware acceleration Chrome..

    Its more responsive, faster, less memory hog, its interface is just unbeatable and whoever says its not safe than lol, its the browser that aint been cracked or hacked yet, under that competition… Its a good solid secondary browser but nothing special Mozilla :)

    Maybe FF5, but Chrome will comealong with 20 and just shatter the dreams :)

  14. blazer

    I like Mozilla copying skills though very, unique of them ;) LOL

  15. bilby


    enable option to save tabs when closing firefox:
    enter about:config in address bar, find “browser.showQuitWarning” click on it(must be true)
    that’s it!

  16. zarnaik

    As a satisfied Opera browser I am very disappointed!
    I mean, it’s like the exact same layout! Opera was unique and the best, imo, but now there’s a copy..

    Not good..

  17. glennicus

    Firefox copied Opera? Firefox made mockups for the single button menu first although Opera and Chrome implemented it before Firefox.
    Sources: &

  18. George


    set the following to True in about:config

    browser.showQuitWarning [This option is to be set only for beta versions starting from 12]

  19. TBueno

    Dave + rino: thanks for the input. I had tried that, it breaks anti-aliasing on the corners of the windows throughout the OS, and just looks weird. Just when I had learned to live with it, FF4 brings even thicker borders. I looks unpolished and unnecessary IMHO.

  20. miki

    W opera!
    Best browser for me…FF is slow

  21. Will

    Why does mine look different?

  22. cowgod

    @Dave @bilby @George Thanks guys! With the F6 add-on and the about:config tweaks I am back in business. Now I just need to get their rear in gear and release their toolbar for FF4 and then I will be in Firefox bliss.

  23. threepointsix

    now listen…

    I don’t give a %^&$% what it may look like or who changed his menu structure first.
    I care about functionality.

    I am a fan of FF, or rather, I used to be. I have tried 4b a few times, and I feel cheated.

    Now it’s time to find a new browser, or stick to good old 3.6 – I’m ogling Chrome.

    Too bad. Bye.

  24. Anon

    Interface sucks. Looks to bloated or FAT. Need to trim some fat off all those browsers, FF4, Opera and Chrome.

    Until Classic Compact is compatible with FF4 I am sticking with 3.6.15.

    One thing I truly hate is the fatness of applications and browsers.

    I don’t need 1000 achres of wasted space for fancy GUI’s or UI’s. I need space for browsing not looks. “Insert Painful Facepalm-Here”.

    Thnx for the article:). Always appreciate How-To Geek written articles.

  25. obirama

    …and people said Opera interface is ugly :D

  26. marc

    Firefox copied Opera’s

    Paste and Go,
    Pin Tab, (that changes the tab into an icon),

    Opera ftw!

  27. Woot

    Don’t care who copied whom. Been a (really) long time Firefox user and I’m more than happy to be able to use this new version. Yay!

  28. Anonymous

    Actually Opera copied Firefox! Firefox came up with the design first, and then later Opera decided to use it.

  29. Anon

    I gave it another shot. Installed from fresh, worked with it for an hour or so.
    If you use usertsyles with stylish on FF4, FF4 breaks most userstlyes.

    The handling for the firefox addons is complete rubbish in FF4, I mean it’s just retarded, nothing like the perfect design that’s in 3.6.

    They took out organize bookmarks from Menu/Bookmarks, u got to use Ctrl + shift + b.

    I was able to get addons not compatible to work with FF4 by adding extensions.checkCompatibility.4.0 to about:config setting it to false, but right after I close FF4, what ever addon not compatible would be disabled, not able to renable in the rubbish addon handler in FF4, have to remove the addon & reinstall that addon, then once close firefox it would do the same, running in circles.

    Yeah, FF4 is just broken for my needs compared to 3.6.

    FF4,Chrome & opera is all the same browser from what I am seeing. New Firefox just isn’t “Firefox” anymore. Call it what u need, but it isn’t firefox.

    Note to Mozilla:
    Please do not stop support to FF3.


  30. Kay

    Oh! Volla! Opera has a theme called IBIS Inspire Transparent which is frankly the most beautiful i ever used. Now what’s left to copy is tab stacking, the new speed dial layout, maybe panels also and then maybe the Start Bar (the most under-rated feature of opera!) and we have an opera out of firefox!!

  31. Sedan

    Cowgod… I too use Delicious and hope FF erases the four buttons on the bar.

    I prefer the one button of Shareaholic and the drop down menu of it that includes Delicious.


  32. Biu

    I have some extensions that I’d like to keep.

    Is there some way to know that all of them is FF4 compatible?
    Of course I don’t want to visit each extension page to see whether its compatible or not :)


  33. BobbyPhoenix

    Please people let’s stop with the chicken or egg thing with the “who copied who”. Use what you like. I give them all a try. To me they each do something different enough to change up here and there for a while. You can only straighten curvy lines so much until there are no more curves. After that they all look the same.

  34. FightTheRight

    Witless Gordon is a no talent hack and has no clue about technology. Please quit encouraging him by reading this ridiculous site.

  35. Jon

    Firefox. When you are so vanilla that you realize it’s time to copy the competition.

  36. Ray Ebersole

    I’ve been using Minefield for months, so it looks like Firefox to me. Don’t use Opera anymore, no need to with Chrome and FF.

  37. Anonymous


    “New single-access menu for Windows 7, Vista & Linux, which was adopted by Opera (and in a similar vein, Chrome unified their two menus into one, too) soon after we put our original designs online1 — they managed to ship before we did, which is fair game — and a side effect of doing designs in the open!”

    Troll harder next time

  38. Steve

    I too don’t care who copied who. What I do care about is a bunch of broken addons that render FF4 useless to me. The biggest is the IE Tab Plus addon that I need to run Citrix from work. Until that is fixed, I will stick with 3.6 as it is a must for me to work.

    I know the addons will catch up so in a couple of months I will give 4 a try again. It was certainly faster than 3.6.

    Now, as to Chrome- IE Tab Plus does work BUT in Citrix Outlook 2007 there is something amiss only in Chrome- when I hit reply or forward, I can’t get the cursor to be in the message body if I have added a name to the address field (any of them). If I put the cursor in the message box and type the message, then I can not get the cursor in the address field. I am using the latest Chrome so this is something that is definitely a problem with Chrome. I like its speed and some other features but this is a killer for me so FF3.6 is my default browser.

    Just my 2 cents and not meant to sway anyone. But I thought people should know about the Citrix issue as it might affect others.


  39. Zack

    I find it hilarious that people are just now realizing it has a similar UI to Opera and not Chrome. I made the switch to Firefox from Chrome for philosophy reasons. I like the origin. The Mozilla browser was created by Netscape employees who believed in open source. I just like the motivation behind it and I am willing to sacrifice a bit of speed for this. Plus I like the UI a bit more.

  40. Mohan

    Loving Firefox 4, it is very good release.

  41. herval

    Firefox 4, IE9, Opera and Chrome whatever browser it is, the most important thing is they are much faster, much better and much improve than they were before. We should be thankful for their latest innovations. Peace to all…

  42. Santo


    Hope to see an article how to update or replace the FF 3.6 in Ubuntu 10.10 to FF 4.

  43. Tom

    FF 4 crashed on me 4 times in my first 4 hours of usage, I think you’ll find that’s why they have just lost the browser war.

  44. Dee

    Been using 4 for a couple weeks, sorta disappointed, almost like a knockoff of branded browsers; not as fast as the formers, bulky and too much crap attached…imho

  45. Max

    You say “Just check your extensions first.” before installing FF4.

  46. David BRE

    I`m new at this,what`s an extension?

  47. RobCr

    There are a couple of comments above regarding ‘remember Tabs from last session’.
    I am guessing from those comments that FF4 does not do that as a default ? ?
    If any of you know of anyone who wants all the open Tabs thrown into a ‘Black Hole’ when FF closes. you have my permission to kill them.
    Once we have eliminated those people from the planet, perhaps all browsers will re-open the previous session’s Tabs, AS A DEFAULT.

    “Surely they can’t be serious”

  48. Jim

    Really miss the Cacheviewer an add-on that lets you see and use what is in your cache…
    It doesn’t work with 4.0
    Any substitute or work around information would be appreciated. (not really a techie.. just pretend to be!)

  49. mark55

    hey how do I get from FF3.6 to FF4 do I uninstall 3.6 and than install FF4.I am kind new at this.

  50. Jim

    Mark… I upgraded without uninstalling 3.6 and it was no issue.. an easy upgrade to perform..
    And I’m not a real techie.. just pretend to be!

  51. NCRGBL

    I will wait for when it works on Norton 2011 5.5 Tool Bar…

  52. Doug

    Would have been nice had there been some warning that various things would not be working, when FF emailed the FF4 IS HERE email.
    Robo Form is crucial for me, and it was gone.

  53. Bob Steinhardt

    Running FireFox 4:

    Can’t open a new tab without going to the File Menu.

    What happened to the + sign?

  54. Rick S

    Just punch in “what is” then your question. It will tell you what it is. Sometimes you may have to give it more info or you will get everything under the sun with the same name.

    It works real good for learning.

  55. Deo Domuique

    Firefox has perfect tabs while Opera’s are extremely ugly… Those extremely curved corners are really ugly…

    On the other hand, Firefox has ugly buttons, too much curved but they said will fix on next version… Meanwhile, you can install this script and be HAPPY!

    The next version of Fx ( 4.2a1pre ) will fix/improve everything and already there is a testing build which give us the same results with IE9 on Hardware Acceleration ( IE 9 Test Page ).

    Fx 5 will be the perfect dream!

  56. jules

    Opera +1
    Firefox -1

    I’ll stick with Opera, always have, always will.

  57. Omar Hafiz

    @Santo – In Ubuntu, Firefox updates come from Canonical through the update manager after they have tested it. So you’ll have to wait untill they make it available for Ubuntu. It shouldn’t take long time though. Firefox can’t update itself in Ubuntu.

  58. John

    wondering…… will personas themes work in firefox 4??….

  59. Theresa Dale

    The Norton Toolbar won’t work with this version, which makes the entire option unusable.
    Is there a fix????

  60. M Henri Day

    If only, if only some kind soul, now that Yahoo no longer seems to take any responsibility at all for Delicious-Bookmarks development, would write an updated version compatible with Firefox 4.0 ! Then I could make the new version my default, instead of 3.6.17pre as at present !…


  61. Rod

    @BIU + @MAX

    There is a FF extension called “is it compatible” that displays the FF versions with which each addon is compatible.

    ALSO, MR Tech Toolkit ( ) provides “the tools needed to install and manage extensions and themes locally. To do this the extension provides multi-extension installation support, hacking capabilities to the Extension/Theme manager windows, features to find and troubleshoot Extensions/Themes Build, GUID and Profile information”.
    It adds a Find Updates button to the Tools>Addons dialog; clicking the latter checks all of the installed addons to see if new versions are available.
    NOTE: MR Tech Toolkit is not yet compatible with FF v4; it stops at v3.7a5pre.

  62. Sunil

    Firefox rocks!

  63. Danny

    This write seems to be not telling the whole truth, I am a Firefox fan and have been for years but adamas comment above seems accurate and Firefox is not faster than Opera!

    I am new to HowToGeek and I am not trusting their reviews already! Where are you guys getting you benchmark information from anyways???

  64. Keith

    The only problem I had with FF4 was that offline browsing was enabled by default. Since I don’t use that feature I had to find and uncheck it. My exsisting FF profile was installed intact. I have the menu bar open and in use for additional add-ons; tabs/newtabs etc. all seem to work the same. Leaving the incompatible add-ons installed but disabled by FF allows for periodic checks for new releases for those add-ons. It might be a bit quicker but, FF was always slow, especially loaded up with add-ons! Bottom line? I don’t see anything to get excited about; it’s just another build with a new number.
    4.1 will be along soon and the add-ons will catch up sonner-or-later. Maybe…

  65. jaded skies

    This looks like a Opera and Internet Explorer 9 hybrid.

  66. Biu


  67. Stephen Mann

    Where did the “Closed Tabs List” go?

  68. 0001

    With all this complaining about who copied who they are both open source so it does not matter and IE9 is faster at least on my machine than ff4 so I have given up on ff4 and back to ie

  69. Paragon

    I am no expert, but i am quite happy with FF4 (I have been using the beta’s for a while) I cant remember who above said it looked bloated but i really cant see it. I have turned off or hidden all tool-bars and it looks sleek. As for add ons the only ones that I cant live without are “add block plus” and “beef taco (targeted advertising cookie Opt-Out)” and these are supported /so all is well :D

    As for who copied who, well who cares. It looks sleek and it performs well ~ what more can you want :-)

  70. leon antoniadis

    Installed FF4 and cannot get into my bank so reverted 3.6

  71. TsarNikky

    Can one make the menu bar permanently visible? I sure hope so! The article implies that one has to invoke it each time you want it by pressing the ALT key, or if you are big on keyboard shortcuts, you can use ALT+? for the menu bar option.

  72. amgadelsaiegh

    for me Opera still number 1 , the source of innovation for all browsers :D

  73. Wayne

    You guys should stop whining and read glennicus’s post.


  74. IMSA12

    I tried FF4 for about a day. All of my Add-Ons were compatible, and it was noticeably faster. All was fine until I opened a Chat on facebook. After seeing my chat postings get hopelessly jumbled and overlapped, I gave up and reverted to 3.6. I’ll give 4 another try in a few weeks; it was nice while it lasted.

  75. Vicky

    There is a problem in firefox 4.There is no add-on to download with IDM for firefox 4.
    Waiting for the same.Then i ‘ll go for it.

  76. David Goldenbarstewart

    Very disappointed!!! Immediately crashed on startup. Also destroyed my Vista 64 OS – had to restore from a recent backup (thankfully.) What in heaven’s name is going on here????

  77. Mario

    Nice and fast but crap on the fact that it doesn’t save my tabs when I close it, that was the feature that I loved on the old version :(


  78. Dave Kaiser

    I downloaded the new version and customized a lot of the menus, like moved the tabs back to a more manageable position.

    But, after having ver 4 on my computer for two or three days, something strange happened, it went back to the OLD version.

    After trying out the new version I figure perhaps I should be happy to have the old one back. Something I hated about the new version was that the only way to print the screen was to go to the orange tab at the top left and use the dropdown menu, very awkward and time consuming.

  79. dustin

    (somebody please call Opera and tell them the status bar is dead)

    u made my day man!!!!!!!!!! looooooooooooollllll!!

  80. dustin

    the good thing with opera is that, u can make ANY change u like to the interface and anything…

  81. enyaW


    Quote: “You guys should stop whining and read glennicus’s post.


    Wrong. Opera had the menu in an actual build before Mozilla even published the MOCKUPS!

  82. Sorenger

    if you know how to edit your FF4 , FF will be god !!!

  83. Barry

    Anybody had ‘hang’ problems? I installed 4 and the machine (Tosh Satt 650, W7) went haywire, just kept hanging on startup. After a few days back with 3.6 I reinstalled and it semed to behave but recently I have random hangs while browsing, for anything from a few mins to total lockup. Seen references to Acrobat reader plugin not compatible, is it that?

  84. Anonymous

    So many people have given ways to fix the “doesn’t have a ‘save tabs’ option” problem.

    If you have the default home screen (about:home), there will be an option to restore your previous browsing session.

    Click on this, and your old tabs will pop right back up.

    No prompts, still works fine.

  85. HunterParty

    but still it lacks the very beautiful aspect of Opera, the Speed dial I mean original one

    Long leave Opera

  86. Vagablonde

    my my my…who cares who copied who.
    Its about performance and Safety and your own preference.
    I like firefox have used it a long time..but its ever ending broken addons with updates made me change browsers.
    a lot of addons seem to be built into Opera…however Opera doesnt seem to render pages as well for some sites..but its quick when it does
    and even internet explorer 9 seems to be a bit zippy.
    as far as chrome I dont know I personally didnt like its interface at all and never tried it again.
    I guess they all seem to have thier favors and flaws.
    Until something is done at adobe…I think all browsers are pretty vulnerable
    It’s more amazing to me..That there is ONE technology adobe that every browser is dependent on!

  87. Mikah

    I use Opera & I love it I can totally understand other Browsers copying it & it does not bother me at all.

    What pisses me off is when they copy & fanboys start claiming we didn’t copy we were first.

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