4 unsolvable Firefox annoyances

Firefox is not perfect. No, really it isn’t and the large collection of extensions and themes are testimony to this little fact.

But while usually extensions, themes and an assortment of different caliber hacks take care of any inconvenience, these four little devils listed here have survived over time and keep me searching around for a solution:

4. The menu items hot keys. I will start with the most trivial. To me, the main menu looks too busy with all the menu hoy keys permanently underlined. In Windows XP, even with the setting to show underlines only when the Alt key is pressed (which is enough to learn the hotkeys if you’re interested) Firefox doesn’t honor it. Below, Firefox’s main menu as it is and as I wish it was.

Menus hotkeys

Menus hotkeys removed

3. Enter the password for the Software Security Device. SoftwareSecurityDevice … I still remember the empty look I gave this gem the first time I encounter it. How about Enter your Firefox Master Password? Yes there are other security devices Firefox can handle but why risk people to brain damage when trying to figure out what a software security device is?

Enter master password

2. Entering the master password multiple times on startup. I love session restore. This nifty feature introduced with Firefox 2, automatically recovers tabs and windows in the case Firefox crashes and if you have set you home page that way. Unfortunately if more than one tab or window require the Master Password to access credentials for those particular web pages, they will ask for it individually instead of just once for all accesses.

1. Printing a selection. I print a lot. In some sites like Ars Technica which still believes it’s the 90s and doesn’t offer a printable version I have to manually select the relevant contents and print them. But guess what? Firefox thinks a selection is an accident and what you really want to print is the complete page, unless you explicitly check Selection in the Print range dialog.

Print selected

Do you know how to solve any of these? I will more than happy to cross it over if it is the case. Please let me know.

27 thoughts on “4 unsolvable Firefox annoyances”

  1. I’d like to add the fact that Firefox needs to be restarted every time you add, or remove, an extension or theme. Sure, no biggie…

    But it would be nice if that could be avoided.

  2. 1. For the main menu issue, there’s Menu Editor (http://menuedit.mozdev.org) and Compact Menu 2 (https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/4550).

    2. (And 3 possibly?) There’s PasswordHasher (http://wijjo.com) which also hashes the password.

    4. There’s Aardvark, (http://www.karmatics.com/aardvark) which allows you to clean up the page etc…prior to printing it.

    Hope that helps,


  3. i’d like to add the fact that firefox hangs quite often in one surf session. if you have several tabs open and you are waiting for the focused one to load, you cannot go to another one in the meantime, which is a really pity.

  4. ” I’d like to add the fact that Firefox needs to be restarted every time you add, or remove, an extension or theme. Sure, no biggie…

    But it would be nice if that could be avoided. ”

    That does annoy me. It should be like Opera… No need to restart when install, OR switching themes!

    I totally agree with all 4 of these though. They are all extremely annoying and they should be fixed in Firefox 3.0.

  5. I disagree with number 1. I highlight text very often when I read webpages to help keep track of my location. This does not mean, when I go to print, that I just want to print 2 lines of the page. The default selection is just that – the default, and when you print a page, you expect the default to be printing the entire page. If you wanted to do something different, you would explicitly look for the option to do so.

  6. Also, I kind of disagree with number 4 as well. This is because I don’t think of +H as two separate keystrokes, I think of it as one combination. I know that sounds retarded, but if I wanted to select the History menu, I would rather look at it, see the H underlined, and press +H than hold , look up, then press H. The former seems to be more logical to me. Also, as mentioned, it is a fairly trivial “annoyance” – I think just as many people would be annoyed by the suggested behavior, so Firefox should just stick to what makes most sense and what is standard (the current behavior).

    2 and 3 are valid though. Although, I don’t suggest using the master password because it’s inherently insecure. The best way to practice security is at the OS level.

  7. “Unfortunately if more than one tab or window require the Master Password to access credentials for those particular web pages, they will ask for it individually instead of just once for all accesses.”

    Have you tried the Secure Login extension?

    It prevents autofilling of login forms. You have to press a hotkey combination before Firefox asks you for your password for a specific tab.

  8. One of the more annoying ones for me, is that sometimes firefox crashs cannot be run again unless I restart the computer.

    Or an error keeps on coming up when I run it.

  9. My comments, for what they are worth:

    4. No doubt a problem since it is supposed to be part of the OS to hide the indicators. However, it doesn’t bother me since I don’t look at the menu very frequently.

    3. That’s just wrong.

    2. One solution is to not use the Master Password, which is what I do. I don’t let Firefox (or IE, or Windows, for that matter) save any of my passwords. That way, having to type them in reminds me what they are in case I find myself on someone else’s machine. No passwords – no multiple response required.

    1. Perhaps Ars Technica just believes in the 21st Century where we don’t printer websites anymore. Since I started using Firefox (no correlation, just happen stance) the amount of stuff I print has dropped. For me personally, I used to go through a ream of paper in few months, now a ream lasts me close to a year (possibly longer) and it’s almost always for code reviews.

    The one that I’d like fixed is the search bar. It goes blue when you’re on a site (like this) that you can add a search engine for. Since I only ever use Google there I don’t need this feature. A way to turn this off would be nice.

  10. Howard, please give the article a look: it’s not a matter of editing the main menu, generating passwords or removing content before printing which is what the extensions you mention do respectively.

    Andrew, Opera has no add-ons support. You may refer to plugins but then Firefox doesn’t require a restart for a plugin to work (if installed the proper way).

    Morri07, yes I use SecureLogin.

    SonuSingh, when that happens it means most probably Firefox wasn’t terminated properly. On Windows, open the Task Manager (right click on the Task bar) and look for the firefox.exe process and kill it. You should now be able to restart Firefox.

  11. 4. Personally I hate having the Alt letters hidden, creates a user un-friendly environment when I have to work on another PC. Besides, if you’re using the menus so much that it bothers you, why not use the shortcuts. With them permanently highlighted, you should memorize them fairly quickly anyways and not need to look up there any more.

    3. I’ve never noticed this before as it is never a good idea to have you’re browser remember your field info, but I can see where it would be annoying.

    2. Like mentioned by a couple people now, retyping the info helps you memorize it for when you can’t be on you’re own PC, and makes your PC more secure (NEVER let your O/S, browser, or any other app. save your passwords, because then it is not a password, its a click through at best!).

    1. Bob has got it dead on. I almost never print online stuff anymore, except some online sales recipts, or coloring pages for my kids. Besides, MS Office doesn’t automatically mark “Selection” when I have stuff highlighted and go to the “Print…”. OOo either. In fact, what program are you talking about that does this? Not even IE 6 does this….

  12. Re: Printing a selection

    I can see how that would be rather obnoxious for someone who prints a lot. I’ve had the opposite annoyance in programs were “Selection” is automatically checked. I randomly select text as I browse and have printed a few pages with just my selection being printed where I wanted the whole thing.

    It seems they could easily make it look at how much text is selected. Two words, half a word, a sentence? Yeah, selection was probably an accident, but a whole paragraph or more? Definitely not an accident.

  13. Sonu Singh, don’t restart the computer, just kill the firefox.exe process via the Windows Task Manager

  14. What really annoys me is in Firefox, if I have the browser maximized, then hit go screen size (F11), then leave screen size (F11), the bottom right corner of the browser shows the little triangle of dots, as if the window wasn’t maximized. Moving the mouse over the corner gives the resize arrows. Also, my theme (myfirefox) goes blue rather than black (it should be black when maximized and blue when window sized). This is a serious glitch that has existed since the dawn of Firefox. It is very annoying and makes screen size (F11) more trouble than it’s worth.

  15. Come on, people.

    4) Try to understand me with my bad english: if I choose to not show the menu hotkeys in my preference in Windows, and Firefox shows, so it IS A BUG. It is a non-expect behavior, correct? So, nobody is discussing here if we like this way, it is being discussed about this strange behavior. Am I wrong? I don’t think so.

    3) I didn’t understand this one. Is it impossible to change the string? If it is impossible, so OK we have a bug, but if this is changeable, better.

    2) I think this bug is going to be fixed in 3.0.

    1) Dunno. Personal preference?

  16. The single biggest problem with FF still is that its multithreading just sucks incredibly. It often happens that a problem with connecting a site or some other slowdown in one window/tab causes the whole program to get unsresponsive. Not to mention a locked up plugin that will lock up the whole browser or a crashing plugin that will pull down the whole browser. I do not know if this is specific to the Linux version (the only one I use regularly) but it is the single most annoying shortcoming of FF for me.

  17. it would be perfect if i can save the page instead of printing it, but when i save it i want to save the clean printable version… this would be somewhat like the scrapbook extension but cleaner because i will no longer have other unneeded content.

  18. somehow the master password no longer works —
    it did work for a long while — firefox 1.5 and upgraded to firefox 2.006 and now I am locked out

  19. Yes #2 is really a pain in the ass.
    And is clearly a bug.
    To those who say “you should just no use it”, you are off topic. Type your passwords if you want, but password keeping is a Firefox feature that most users love, so it should work correclty.

    ABout #3,in French it reads “Master Password for Personal Security”, not so bad…

  20. Hello, everytime I open Firefox it goes to our own internal homepage. Each time the browser arrives at the home page a pop up box appears and asks for secuity credentials. The username and password are already filled in but you still have to click on “OK”. This is driving some our users crazy! I have tried everything but cannot fix this. Can anyone help, is there an add on that I can install, password manager, trusted site manager? Please Help!!

  21. The Password dialog problem is in my opinion the most annoying problem of firefox.
    It’s not only fires you with a multitude of duplicate dialog boxes for entering the master security password, But also for proxy login if you are behind a firewall.
    This makes restarting firefox like a nightmare !!!

  22. As a ex-Safari user on Mac, (still 3.1 on PC) one thing FF sux at is accurate colour. I mean, FF3v4b IS still a beta, but I hope the developers have a look here at what their ‘wunderkind’ cannot do:


    The second is — how about refine the GUI for the Windows FF? Geez it looks awful with a myriad of miss-matching icons, no way to turn them off, garish as a whore house at a carnival — help — I use FF on a PC too!

    That’s it. For the record, I’m really enjoying FF3v4b!!!


  23. Has anyone set up a permanent page/site for discussing Firefox annoyances? I would like to add my own list, and would like to see a dynamic ranking of hot-button peeves. Given that this post is a year old, I’d have thought a more recent list exists somewhere. Not so?

    Currently my #1 gripe is that Ff requires three mouseclicks to start after updating extensions. It should require zero, and there should be an option to switch that feature on/off.

    A related gripe is that upadtes should have a further set of options – like Windows Update – to install at set times, silently.

    To round it off, gripe #3 is that the restore session seems to have a random habit of deciding there are.aren’t sessions to restore. Not very reliable then.

  24. My biggest irritation is the standard intergration of Google. I don’t trust Googles info gathering and it requires a good, detail-contole, firewall to prevent communications with google. Automatic searching from the adress bar made me really angry and almost trash firefox forever. Luckely there are places that tell how to switch that off.
    Back in the old days a peace of software that called “home” or anywere else, WITHOUT ASKING, was considered SPYWARE.

  25. Let’s go with the order
    4 – Bullsh** : interface is to give all info in a glance. I want to look and identify the hotkey whitouht having to first press alt-look-the key. Perfect the way it is.
    3 – Couldn’t care less.. .whatever man. Stop spending you energy on little picky things that won;t do any extra good. Ok. Master Password, be it.
    2 – Agreed. That IS an annoyance
    1 – Sorta… it should, for example a) realize you marked text (made selection) and select the correct radio button, or 2) remember whatever you had there last time.

    Adding mine:
    1) a lot of clicks to add a certificate exception… too hidden
    2) page reloading warning: should provide two buttons to a) deny permanently reloading of that page and b) always allow reloading of such page (but I suspect I would be using a) more than anything else)
    3) memory hog: for Pete’s sake !!! Consuming 10% of the memory is way too much. And don’t give me crap about… everybody pretty much takes for granted that memory is there and it has zero wait time… no !
    I guess it becomes a rant now…..

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