Friday, January 28, 2011

Mozilla Labs Home Dash: An Alternative Firefox 4 Interface

Mozilla Labs is experimenting with a new browser UI for Firefox 4 called Home Dash. Essentially it removes all of the Firefox interface, I mean all - location bar, search bar, bookmarks bar and tabs. What is left behind is a tiny semi-transparent Firefox logo clicking on which brings up a dashboard. The dashboard has a search box on the top left, and the rest of the screen is filled with thumbnails of the 24 most visited website.

Don’t be surprised if you get thrown off for a moment; the lack of any visible toolbar is disorienting. It takes a while to get the hang of it, but once you do, you will start noticing some interesting things happening. The first thing that you will notice is Instant Previews – everywhere.


The row of thumbnails at the top adjacent to the search box are your opened tabs. Hovering the mouse pointer over any shows an instant preview of the page, just like the Aero Peek feature of Windows 7. The same with your top visited websites. Just hover the mouse long enough over any thumbnail and the page will start loading in the background.

But wait till you see what the search box does. The new so called “awesome bar” now comes with double the level of awesomeness – you can search on two search engines simultaneously. And you don’t even have to finish typing your search term. Results start appearing as soon as you type the first letter.


If you grow tired playing with the dashboard, you can return back to the standard Firefox interface by using the keyboard shortcut Alt + Shift + Ctrl + D. The Mozilla team has published a guide with some more keyboard shortcuts and troubleshooting tips.

Home Dash works only on Firefox 4.0b9 and later and refreshingly, doesn’t require a restart after installation. Make sure you install version 2, if you want the keyboard shortcuts to work.


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