3 reasons to use Firefox instead of Safari

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When I first got a Mac, I was all for using Safari. I liked its integration with Keychain, the way it looked and the way it operated. Those things haven’t really changed, and in fact Safari has been getting better and better the longer I’ve used a Mac. I use 1Password now to manage my identities, passwords, forms, etc. and once I switched back to Firefox for a while, I started to notice that I had begun to use it differently than I had in the past because of some of the powerful tools available. That being said, Safari isn’t so far behind. There are really only a few reasons why I continue to use Firefox instead of Safari and I thought I’d share them with you.

1. The Awesome Bar

Mozilla likes to call the location/address bar the “Awesome Bar” and I’m not really going to argue with them, because I use it constantly and I do think it’s pretty awesome. When I do happen to find myself in another browser, I tend to try to use the address bar in the same way and inevitably end up annoyed. This is generally the first feature I miss. Basically, in Firefox the bar uses your browser history, sites you may have bookmarked with tags, etc. to autocomplete addresses. This means that I can often find things incredibly quickly just by typing in a series of very vague words into the bar. For example, when I’m sweating away at my keyboard and am contemplating taking action against the heat and want to remember that site I read about homebrew air conditioning, instead of looking it up on google or searching through my bookmarks, I just type in “homebrew ac” to my Awesome Bar and hit enter, and it brings up the site I want. On a similar note, it even seems to find things that aren’t in my history, I assume by using Google. I use this often when I know something’s not going to be hard to find, for example if I wanted to look for Robin Hobb’s Wikipedia entry, I don’t have to type it out or search for it on Wikipedia. I can just type “wiki Robin Hobb” into the Awesome Bar and Firefox brings me there.

2. Add-ons

With Safari, I just don’t have this option. There isn’t a huge group of people doing awesome things to add to the functionality of Safari, but with Firefox, that is all very easily accessed. Sometimes I just like to head over to the Add-ons page and see what is new or popular to try them out, but right now I’ve got around 10 installed. Most of them are tools for web development or productivity tools, but I’ve also got a couple in there for social networking/bookmarking as well.

3. Ubiquity

Technically, Ubiquity should be considered a subset of the Add-ons section, but it is so important to the way I choose to do things that I thought it made sense to have its own description. Ubiquity is something like Quicksilver for the Mac. If you’ve ever used it, you’ll start to get an idea of what I’m talking about here. Essentially, Ubiquity is a hotkey activated tool which performs actions within the browser in a quicker, more effective way. It’s hard to describe in exact terms what Ubiquity does, because it could potentially do anything with in the browser, given the chance. You can write your own commands and UI for it, but generally the idea is the same. It pops up quick activated, and awaits your input. You can use it do update statuses on social sites, translate chunks of pages, look up maps for selected addresses, look up wikipedia entries, do searches, perform mathematical calculations, get reviews, perform browser tab actions, format text, interact with webmail and calendars, check weather, and lots of other things. It is quick, uses fairly plain intuitive language, and is under active development and continues to improve. If there is one Firefox Add-on you should install, it is this one.

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