08 February 2010

Bring Firefox into 2010 with TwentyTen

After making a small step to refresh Firefox’s looks by hiding the old-fashioned menu, I made a bigger step by changing the whole theme. I found something very similar to the recently presented proposals for the upcoming interface of Firefox 4.0. There are lots of tutorials on the web about making the current version of Firefox look as close to this concept as possible, but they all involve several steps, more than one extension and tweaks to configuration files. This theme on the other hand makes the switch easier.

The theme is called “TwentyTen” and can be found on deviantART. It’s inspired by the Office 2010 design, hence the name, and includes a different color theme for every Office application, plus a ‘Noir’ setting, for a total of 10. Since the recent UI concept for Firefox on Windows is also inspired by Office, the theme comes pretty close to both.

I personally love how it looks, although on Windows XP it doesn't benefit from any Aero effects. I usually go with the default browser look and lately Firefox was very behind compared with Chrome and Opera 10. And yes, the interface makes a difference, whether we like to admit it or not. The interface was the main reason I didn’t like to use the previous versions of Opera. Now, with this theme installed, Firefox has a chance to compete and I find myself using it more and more instead of Opera.

TwentyTen Firefox theme options

The installation file also adds an extension to Firefox, “TwentyTenBuddy”, probably required for the deeper changes to the interface and to manage the options. So if you ever go tired of the Office looks, don’t forget to uninstall or disable both the extension and the theme.

Firefox TwentyTen App menuOne of the biggest changes the theme/extension brings is an Office-like ‘App’-button on the upper left, with some of the most used commands, like ‘Options’, ‘Downloads’ and ‘Add-ons’. And if you know your way around keyboard shortcuts, you’ll never miss the menu bar. If you don’t like this change, it’s easy to undo it in the theme options. Among the other tweaks there, you can put a ‘Home’ button in the title bar next to ‘File’ or move the Stop and Reload inside the address bar, on the right, like they are placed in Safari 4.

I have no way to test it and haven’t found anything explicit, but I think the theme is Windows only. The German blog where I discovered it also mentions some incompatibilities; probably the most important is with Tab Mix Plus, a very popular extension to tweak the tab behavior in Firefox. They propose the weird-named TabberWocky as a lighter alternative.

As a final note, I also recommend using the Fission extension to move the progress bar inside the address bar and a CSS-trick to merge the Stop and Reload buttons. The theme works without them, but this way it’s more streamlined and eye-catching.

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