Why Mozilla Rules

This page was written around the 1.0 release. It is kept here because there are quite a few links in, and as a sort of souvenir. More up-to-date information (or, more likely, information that more recently went out-of-date) is available in the Mozilla pages, just part of the whole site.

If you think all web browsers are the same, think again. Mozilla is packed with features that make your browsing experience better. Some browsers can do some of these things, but Mozilla does more than any other. Whether you are new to Mozilla, or already use it, this article should help you discover some great features you never knew existed. You might also want to check out the documentation. Some features may only be in nightly builds.

See a similar page in German. (with demos of MathML and transparency!).


Tabs make browsing easier, because you don't lose pages in the taskbar. If you're a fan of meta-news sites like FARK, tabs make things that much smoother. And if the site uses favicons, they will be displayed on the tabs to make it easier to identify.
You can open a new tab with control-T, there's a context menu item to open links in a new tab, and control+PgUp or PgDn will cycle between tabs. As shown in the picture, if the site has a favicon, this will appear in the tab, allowing you to easily spot which site is where.
If you prefer to browse in the normal way, Mozilla won't force this on you - tabs or not, it's your choice.
Bookmark Groups
Working with tabs is Bookmark Groups. This stores a set of tabs as one bookmark. For example, you could set all the web comics you read to open with one click. To store a group, open the tabs you want in the group, select Bookmarks > File Bookmark, and tick the "File as group" option.
JavaScript Controls
Do you hate those sites which alter status text, launch popup windows without asking, move the window around, etc? Mozilla lets you choose what sites are allowed to do with their scripts. The blocking is smart enough to allow new windows to be opened by clicking something, so popups with a purpose are not broken.
Integrated Search
Mozilla has a whole load of integrated search facilities. You can search from the location bar, and with virtually any search engine. Mozilla comes with a few engines as standard, including Google. More can be added through search plugins. This means you are not tied down to using whatever engines come with the browser, unlike IE. Mozilla can also use the information in these plugins to make a sidebar containing your search results. This means you can check out a whole page of results without constantly going back to the results page. If you prefer, this can be turned off.
Advanced Search
Several engines can be meta-searched, and the results combined. You can view the results grouped by engine, or by rank. This works with any engine you have a search plugin for. Mozilla also provides the facility to see the results in context - so you can see what other information the engine provided (such as translation links).
Bookmark Keywords
Do you use search engines a lot, and a lot of search engines? You can set up mozilla to query them for you, as easily as entering an address. For example, you can set it up so typing in "af TCP" as an address does a search for TCP at AcronymFinder. These queries aren't formatted like a normal address, so they don't interfere with them. More on this
Image Blocking
You can block images from specific servers, meaning you never have to see goatse guy again. Blocking an image server is as simple as right-clicking on it, and selecting a menu item. If you want to check what you have already blocked, you can do that, as well. And you can unblock images if you made a mistake.
Cookie Management
You can now take complete control of your cookies. Mozilla lets you see who is storing cookies on your computer, and what they are storing. If you want to, you can make sites ask for permission to set cookies, and remember the decisions. So, you don't get flooded with requests every time you use a site. The permissions can be checked and changed at any time.
Page Info
Want to see what's in a page? Page info lets you see meta tags, forms, images, security status and a lot more. It also contains facilities for saving this content, allowing you to store Flash files easily.
Finger is one of the less well-known protocols on the internet. If you're into gaming, you may have noticed some sites offering "finger services", which link to status reports from some of the big guns, like John Carmack. Mozilla lets you run the finger queries yourself, so you know you have the very latest. This feature may not be in more recent builds
Site Navigation Bar
A growing number of sites are adding <link> tags for navigation. Mozilla understands these tags, and can make using sites such as Slashdot easier. There is also a version of the PHP docs that use them. It normally hides itself away if there's nothing to show - if screen space is important to you, it can be turned off.
link toolbar
This is disabled in some builds (and most likely 1.0) until it has been speeded up.
If there's content you like to keep an eye on, then the sidebar is just what you need. As well as having tabs for bookmarks, history and DOM Inspector, a growing number of sites are creating one, so you can quickly find out the latest news that matters to you. Creating one is also easy, allowing you to connect with your visitors.


If you develop webpages, you'll know what a pain it can be. Mozilla is the browser equivalent of ibuprofen - it removes those development headaches.

JavaScript Console
If you've only ever debugged your scripts in IE, you'll be familiar with it's poor error messages. The JavaScript console provides clearer errors, and can often show you the line where it occurred, to save searching. It is not limited to showing one error - so if your page uses a few scripts, you can see errors from all of them at once. This also provides a handy record as you fix the error. The console can also generate warnings of probable errors.
JavaScript Debugger
Taking the console further, the script debugger lets you examine all the functions in currently loaded scripts. Simply load the debugger before the page you want to debug (or refresh if it's already there). You should see a list appear in the debugger of all the files containing scripts, which can be expanded to reveal a list of functions. Selecting one of these functions will show its code. Next to each line of code is a mark - clicking this will set a breakpoint. If this line of code is reached, then the script will stop running, and you can examine a list of variables to see their current values. You can then stop or continue the script. Errors sent to the JavaScript console can be optionally mirrored in the debugger. You can also have your scripts profiled - showing which functions are taking up the time. The debugger has a project and a development webpage.
DOM Inspector
Ever wondered what's really going on in a page? The DOM inspector opens everything up. You can examine all nodes - elements and #text. You can see the currently applied attributes, the computed style, the currently applied style rules and more. This works as a separate window or as a sidebar. This is a really useful debugging tool - you can find out exactly what your scripts have generated, without writing large amounts of debug queries.
Mozilla has the best support for W3C standards of any browser. This means, if you write to the specs, it's more likely to work in Moz than anything else.
For beginners, Composer is a great tool. It lets you create pages quickly, and easily. It contains all the tools needed to make simple webpages, and contains a source editor for more advanced code. It also gives the option of creating page effects using CSS rather than the ordinary <b> and <i> tags.
Data URLs
Mozilla supports RFC 2397. This allows files to be embedded into the page as URLs. It allows you to encode a whole document as one file. This is used in the JavaScript Debugger to provide the profiling images. It will also eventually be possible to save a whole page as one file using this facility.
If you need to write up loads of equations in your documents, you no longer need to resort to making images of them, or spending hours with tables. Mozilla supports MathML, allowing you to easily add and view equations in your documents.
View Selection Source
This is a new feature, not in 1.0, but will most likely make 1.1


Message Labels
You can give messages coloured labels, allowing you to easily categorise and see the messages you want to get back to.
Multiple Accounts
If you're still struggling with Netscape 4's restrictions on accounts, Mozilla can access multiple accounts, and hurray.
Get Map
If you have stored somebody's postal address along with their e-mail address, you can get a map for that address.
Quicksearch lets you perform basic searches very easily. There is an input box at the top of the list of messages, and search terms entered match subject or sender - which covers most searches.
LDAP Autocomplete
If you have a LDAP address book on your network, it can be used to autocomplete addresses. As you type the message in, a list of possible matches appears, allowing you to quickly select the correct one.


There's so much more to Mozilla than just the browser features. There's the other apps, and the clever architecture which means getting even more is easy.

You can send and receive signed and encrypted e-mails using the S/MIME standard.
Mozilla supports javascript in bookmarks. This allows you to store useful tools. You can get bookmarklets from squarefree and bookmarklets.com.
HTML in Javascript
You can store pages in javascript: URLs, e.g. "javascript:<html><body>foo</body></html>". This can be used to store small pages as bookmarklets, or alternatively as links in a page.
Bookmark Scheduling
If the server sends a "Last Updated" header, then you can be alerted when it changes. You can configure Mozilla to check the page at certain times of the day, and then alert you if the page has changed. One page that does this is dilbert.com. You can check whether a page has a "last updated" field in Page Info. If it doesn't, sometimes asking the webmaster for one nicely works ;)
Net Installers
If you just want the browser, or want to pick off a component or two, then you can do that. The net installers let you choose what to be installed, and what to be left out.
Address Book
To go along with MailNews is the address book. This allows you to store and organise addresses of your contacts. The format is supported by OpenOffice, and details can be imported into your documents there. If you store people's addresses in your book, Moz provides a quick lookup to get a map of that location.
If you don't already have an IRC client, Mozilla has one included. This has a customisable munger, which allows you to individually turn on and off features such as making things with asterisks *bold*, :) into an image, etc. If you have channels you always go to, ChatZilla can automatically open these for you when you start it up. The channel's view is also customisable - you can chat in black on white or white on black. If you're feeling creative, there's even a function which lets you use your own stylesheet.
If you really must have things exactly how you want them, there are a load of extra settings you can change, outside of the normal preferences. Most of these won't bother most people - if you find yourself wanting to always change things around, this is for you.
There's a whole load of great add-ons available for Mozilla at mozdev.org. One thing you should have a look at is Optimoz, which can add Opera-style mouse gestures.
Tired of everyone else's bookmarks? Granny keeps turning the text size up? Mozilla lets you create as many profiles as you like - so people don't have to get in each other's way. If you share a PC, but don't use logins, you can still have different users. And you can create separate profiles for different uses.
Easy Migration
Your IE bookmarks appear in their own folder, so you don't loose them. You can import addresses, mail and settings from Outlook, Outlook Express and Eudora. If you've used Netscape in the past, your profile is provided in the list, ready for import.
Looks Great
Mozilla comes with two themes, Modern and Classic. This gives you a choice, meaning you have a better chance of finding something you like. There's also a growing number of add-on themes, which you can see at xulplanet.
Classic: Classic Modern: modern
Eskimo: eskimo GreyModern: grey modern
Pinball: pinball
If you're having troubles with Mozilla, you can head over to the friendly IRC channel, where somebody should be able to help you out. Unlike IE or Opera, the bugs process is open for all to see. This allows you to make a real difference - providing useful information to speed along a fix, or it can just let you know something's being done. And of course, there's MozillaZine and MozillaNews.


There are some great features which aren't quite ready yet. There's no reason to wait around using another browser, because there's always something nifty just around the corner.

The SVG project is at its early stages. Some basic SVG is can already be displayed, should you choose to download an SVG build. Eventually, the level of support will be good, and pages will be able to have vector graphics inline with the code.
There is active work on getting a spellchecker into Mozilla, you can check out the progress at the MozDev project. If you build yourself, you can have the spellchecker now. Other users shouldn't have too long to wait - it should arrive shortly after 1.0.
Download Manager
The download manager lists your current and previous downloads. It's still a bit new, and more features are planned.
There's a calendar in the works as well, which is ready to play with now. It's making good progress, and is providing people with one less reason to continue using Outlook. You can find out more at the project page.

Various people from #mozillanews and #mozillazine told me off for forgetting stuff. And a few people even e-mailed me with stuff. Keep the ideas coming! And buy some hosting so I can feed my cats :)