Switching from Apple Safari

Just as the Windows version of Firefox is tailored to former Internet Explorer users, the Macintosh version is designed for Safari fans.

Keyboard shortcut differences

The Macintosh version of Firefox sticks to Safari's keyboard shortcuts as faithfully as possible, but there are a few differences to be aware of, as shown in Table 3-3.

Table 3-3: Keyboard Shortcut Differences




Open Download Manager

Option+image from book+L

image from book+Y

Load Home Page

Shift+image from book+H


View Source (Code)

Option+image from book+U

image from book+U

Open Bookmarks Sidebar

Option+image from book+B

image from book+B

Select Next Tab

Shift+image from book+]

image from book+Page Down

Select Previous Tab

Shift+image from book+[

image from book+Page Up

Terminology differences

There's not much in terms of terms that are different except for the following: What Safari calls the Address Bar, Firefox calls the Location Bar.

Feature differences

Firefox does not support certain Safari features by default. However, in many cases, you can download an extension that will add the same capabilities to Firefox, and I note the extensions that are available. See Chapter 21 for more information about installing and using extensions. Firefox does not support the following Safari features:

  • Snapback

  • Bookmarks Synchronization (try the Bookmarks Synchronizer extension)

  • Spell Check (try the SpellBound extension)

  • Editimage from book Special Characters

  • Send Page (however, the Send Link command, which sends a link to a Web page, is available from the Firefox File menu)

  • Activity window

  • Editimage from book Autofill (however, Firefox autocompletes as you type)

image from book
A tale of two browsers

I spend much of this chapter discussing feature, keyboard, and terminology differences among browsers, but the most important difference is in how browsers decide to lay out Web pages. Although Web pages are fully interactive and often beautifully designed documents by the time they reach your screen, they are in fact a jumble of computer instructions under the hood. How a Web page looks on your screen depends on how your particular browser decides to interpret these instructions.

To ensure consistency among browsers, an open standards organization called the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) oversees the development of technical specs that govern the interpretation of these instructions. Unfortunately, from 1995 through about 2001 — the very time period that launched the Web — the two dominant browser vendors largely ignored the W3C. Engaged in the software industry's version of the Space Race, Microsoft and Netscape created their own Web "standards" in-house and evangelized them to Web developers. Each vendor hoped, of course, that more developers would adopt its respective standard, thereby locking out the other — since Web pages wouldn't load properly in the other's browser.

Unfortunately, this devious strategy worked. More unfortunately, it worked to the favor of Microsoft, which now enjoys a monopoly on the Web. The lock-in strategy is viciously cyclical: If most developers are developing for Microsoft's browser, users have to use that browser to display Web sites properly. And if most users are using Microsoft's browser, developers want to develop for it. In a world like this, why would developers follow the W3C's standards? As rosy as a global Web standard sounded, practical developers coded to Microsoft's de facto standard.

Part of the reason Firefox exists is to break Microsoft's hold on the Web. This kind of monopoly is harmful to all of us, because it locks us into Microsoft devices and leaves us at the whims of an enormous public company that ultimately answers to shareholders. Case in point: In 2001, Microsoft abandoned development of Internet Explorer, the most used software application in the world, because the company had no incentive to upgrade a free product after winning the browser war against Netscape. Good move for Wall Street, but perhaps not such a good move for you, if you were one of the 500 million Internet Explorer users left to fend for themselves.

Firefox adheres closely to the W3C standards to promote a Web that works on any device, any platform, anywhere. When we first began the project, we faced the difficult and often futile challenge of convincing developers not to use Microsoft's proprietary Web standards. However, now that Firefox has won over 10 percent of the browsing market — over 50 million users — developers are starting to change course.

So what does this mean for you today as you switch to Firefox? It means that about 97 percent of the 12 billion (and counting) Web sites out there should render perfectly well in Firefox today, and that number continues to rise as Firefox's global market share increases. If you come across a Web site that doesn't look or work properly in Firefox, you can let us know by following the directions in the "Reporting Broken Web Sites" section of this chapter.

image from book

Firefox For Dummies
Firefox For Dummies
ISBN: 0471748994
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 157
Authors: Blake Ross

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