The popular Firefox browser is a great tool for enjoying websites the way they were designed to be viewed, thanks to a relatively strict adherence to web standards. It is also extremely customizable, offering various ways to redesign the user interface from applying new skins to rearranging menus and toolbars, and generally allowing you to use the software exactly how you want.
This is one of the reasons why Firefox remains a popular choice in the face of newer browsers such as Chrome or the latest version of Opera, and by taking advantage of these options you can manage how and where the standard toolbars are displayed as well as create your own.
For instance, you might want the Firefox toolbar to display features such as the Print button, and this is easily added along with various other features that you might normally only view via shortcuts or a few layers of menu.
Accessing the Toolbar Customization Feature
By default in Mozilla Firefox you will have three toolbars in the browser:
- Menu Bar
- Navigation Toolbar
- Bookmarks Toolbar
Each of these can be enabled and disabled, just as any custom toolbar that you create can.
Let’s take a look at what each of these toolbars does.
The Menu Bar is the portion of the browser window that displays the File, Edit, View, History, Bookmarks, Tools and Help menus. In normal circumstances these are functions that you would access at least once a day, but possibly no more; for instance, if you accidentally closed a web page you could use History > Recently closed tabs to restore it.
Other uses of this toolbar may be limited by comparison, although the Tools menu provides access to add-ons, configuration options (useful for adjusting security settings, for example) and provides notifications on the status of any current downloads. As such, enabling or disabling this toolbar could have an adverse effect on your enjoyment of Firefox.
Meanwhile, the Navigation Toolbar is the collection of tools that by default are positioned directly below the Menu Bar. These begin with the Back button on the left and a search box on the right, although any add-ons that you have installed might also add buttons to this area. Many of the functions of the Navigation Toolbar are also available via the context menu (for instance Back and Forwards can also be found by right-clicking the mouse), although the Address Bar, the area where you type the URL of the website you wish to visit, can only be accessed here.
Finally, the Bookmarks Toolbar appears below the Navigation Toolbar, and by default features a selection of links that Mozilla assume you might want to visit. Fortunately, these links can be removed and your own added; otherwise, you might prefer to drop the Navigation Toolbar altogether.
Enabling and Disabling Toolbars in Mozilla Firefox
The effect of disabling (or “hiding”) a toolbar in Firefox makes for less clutter and lets you view more of the web page, but do bear in mind that this action might result in reduced functionality. While dropping the Bookmarks Toolbar might seem like a good move, this can be a useful aspect of the browser; hiding the Menu Toolbar makes some actions more time consuming, and few people would do without the Navigation Bar as it is where you can type in and get suggestions on recently visited URLs
However, you can easily show a Firefox toolbar that has been hidden. Enabling and disabling the toolbars is simple, and is a case of right-clicking in the correct place and selecting any of the options to hide or reveal. Note that if you have any add-ons installed these might be added to this context menu.
If you have hidden your menus and can’t retrieve them, right click on the Tab Bar (Firefox won’t let you close it so it will always be there for clicking), but not directly on a tab. You will get a context menu with the names of the basic toolbars for the default toolbars for you to select or deselect, as well as an option to “Customize” (more on that in the next section).
Creating New Toolbars in Firefox
If you like the idea of creating your own Firefox toolbar, this is easily achieved, and might be useful if you regularly print web pages, for instance; a print icon on a toolbar could prove quicker to use than File > Print.
Mozilla have made the creation of new toolbars pretty easy, too. First, right-click in the tab-bar as listed above and select Customize…, where you will find the Add New Toolbar button. You will then be prompted to name the toolbar, and when you click OK a new blank section will be added to the existing toolbars. To add features – such as the print icon – simply ldrag this to the new toolbar and drop it into place; this can be undone by dragging the button back.
Should you be unhappy with your custom toolbars, simply reopen the Customize Toolbar window and select Restore Default Set.
As you can see, customizing Firefox menus is simple and straightforward.
Author’s own experience.
Screenshots provided by author.