Firefox is a pretty simple product: a simple, standalone web browser from the same team of engineers who brought you the old Netscape and Mozilla "all-in-one" browser/email products. It's a perfect complement to the Thunderbird standalone email client / Usenet newsreader.
Firefox is not merely the original Mozilla browser with some user interface tweaks. Many hundreds of thousands of lines of code were added or changed from the Mozilla base. For instance, preferences are handled quite differently, in a much more user-friendly manner. As with Mozilla, Firefox's interface can be changed using themes, but Firefox - unlike Mozilla - allows you to go even further by customizing many other aspects of the user interface, including the toolbar, and much more.
Most importantly, a huge variety of Firefox Extensions enable various enhancements to the browsing experience. These are essentially small programs (or add-ons) that add new functionality to Firefox. Extensions enable Firefox to stay small and unbloated, while still enabling a great deal of customization (and additional features) to those who are more demanding. My particular favorite is the brilliant Web Developer toolbar, which adds a host of features that enable you to view and test various technical aspects of a web site, in surprisingly powerful ways.
The next natural question is: why not use Camino, which (like Firefox) has all of the great browsing characteristics of Mozilla, but with a "native" Mac OS X interface? That's a good question, but one answer lies in the fact that Firefox - being a multiplatform project - seems to be along a much more comprehensive track of improvement and fine tuning, while Camino sees much less substantial enhancement on a regular basis. More tellingly, Firefox's remarkable extensions are not supported in Camino.
Firefox is speedy, extensible, renders web pages exceptionally well, and has a highly evolved tabbed browsing interface. As of June 2008, it still clearly provides the fastest, smoothest browsing experience yet on the Mac platform. Safari has caught up to Firefox in many respects, but since Firefox is used by Windows and Linux users as well, it has undergone incredibly exhaustive testing, and has become an indisputable standard in the web browsing arena. It is critical for Mac users to take notice of such an important, widely-supported application that happens to run very well on the Macintosh platform. By using and supporting Firefox, you actually help foster a more egalitarian, platform-agnostic take on the Web - and that's what the Web is really all about.
Version 3.6 is a must-download release that aims to substantially refine version 3.5's already-polished browsing experience. Highlights include:
Version 3.6.7 makes the following additional changes:
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Can't find what you're looking for? Try a search:
Also, if you have an older Mac, be sure to check out the "Classic" applications page for more options.
Finally, take a look at ALEMIA if you think you know that name of an application, but aren't quite sure.
These are applications that are newer and of potential interest, but which I haven't yet selected for permanent inclusion. Have a look, and let me know if you think they deserve to be part of the permanent collection!