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Disable ‘New Tab’ Page in Firefox 13

Today’s release of Firefox 13 brings with it more imposed functionality changes to the only version of the browser that we can use, because it is is the only one kept current with security updates*.

This time, it is a brand new, Google Chrome-style ’New Tab’ page. I’m sure it is great for lots of people, but personally, I prefer a blank home page and a blank page when I open a new tab.

To restore the old behaviour, and have a blank new tab, browse to about:config. Accept the warning, then search for newtab. Do not change newtabpage.enabled.

Instead, double-click browser.newtab.url and set it to about:blank.

Disable 'New Tab' Page in Firefox 13

There, that’s how I prefer it again!

* UPDATE: A slight correction — there is a version of Firefox 10.x called Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) that is kept up-to-date, so that is also an option!

Un-hide the ‘http://’ in Firefox 7

The recent release of Firefox 7 has brought with it several changes. One of these, is that Firefox hides the ‘http://’ prefix in the URL bar by default.

For many people this is fine and probably a positive changes, but geeks like myself may wish to restore the prefix. (I found it especially annoying when I copied a URL from the bar and the text pasted did include the ‘http://’, when the text I copied did not! I don’t like that kind of inconsistency!)

To restore the prefix, browse to about:config. Accept the warning, then search for browser.urlbar.trimURLs. When you find the setting, double-click on it to toggle it to false. The changes should take effect immediately.

Screenshot showing about:config in Firefox, with the browser.urlbar.trimURLs key shown

That’s better!

Choose Wisely — Pick Default Browser on a Per-Link Basis

I don’t have a single default browser that I use. I use both Firefox and Safari as my primary browsers (and I throw SRWare Iron into the mix sometimes too).

Of course, my primary OS, Mac OS X, requires me to pick one browser that is used by default when I click on a link in another application. The browser that I want to use for any given link will differ, however. I might have one of the two browsers open right now and want to use the one that is open rather than opening a new application, or it might be a potentially untrusted link, where I’ll want to use Firefox (with my restrictive NoScript configuration) rather than Safari.

Enter Choose Wisely. It is a small application which you set up with the browsers you might want to use. You then set Choose Wisely itself as your default browser. Whenever you click a link, it will pop open.

Choose Wisely

You simply click the browser you’d like to use on this occasion and the link will open as normal in your chosen browser. It is a really light, simple solution to this problem that takes no more than a second extra of your time.

Initial Setup

When you initially launch the application, there will be no browsers in the window. Go to your Applications folder in the Finder and just drag and drop the browsers you would like in the list onto the window.

You will also want to set Choose Wisely as your default browser. To do this, open Safari. In Safari > Preferences, go to the General divider and select Choose Wisely under Default web browser.

Safari Preferences for default browser, showing Choose Wisely


As I said, it is a wonderfully simple solution if, like me, you want to use different browsers for different tasks and on different occasions. Some will find it an annoying extra step — and if you’re happy with just the one browser, it won’t be any use to you at all.

But if you do like to pick and choose browsers on a per-link basis, this is a great solution. You can download it from this page (scroll down to the Download section).

Force Session Cookies on Chrome for Mac

Google Chrome icon

I just downloaded the new Google Chrome for Mac beta. I like to clear out my cookies after each time I quit the browser, so tracking information and so on doesn’t hang around any longer than it needs to.

On Google Chrome for Mac, there is no built-in setting to force all cookies to be session cookies, but you can use this hack to achieve the same thing. After launching Chrome at least once, then quit it and run the following commands in Terminal:

rm "~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Default/Cookies"
ln -s /dev/null "~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/Default/Cookies"

The first command deletes the cookies file and the second command creates a symbolic link, so that anything dropped in the cookies file goes to /dev/null (i.e. the cookies gets deleted and not stored once you quit!)

UPDATE 2010-01-29: JeanVal reports in the comments that this process works on Chrome for Linux too. The Cookies file is stored at the path ~/.config/chromium, so just adjust the commands above to fit that path.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome logo

There has been a considerable traffic spike here, since Google announced their new web browser, Google Chrome.

Not because I’ve spoken about it until now, but because it sparked interest in my thoughts on Gecko vs WebKit.

Google Chrome is considerably ‘buzz’-y at the moment, so I thought I would fire up an internet-connected Windows machine and give it a try.

My website in Google Chrome

While from a technical point of view much of the browser seems very interesting – and a very good idea (separating each tab into its own individual process, the new V8 JavaScript engine), at the moment I can’t see it offers much unique user-visible functionality.

Regardless of whether something is technically awesome or not, you won’t get the masses to use it unless they can see a killer feature – something that is visible to them and benefits them.

There are some unique elements to Chrome’s interface – specifically the single address/search bar (Omnibar), but I can’t help feeling underwhelmed at the lack of ‘killer-ness’ about the browser at the current time.

It is early days, though – and Chrome does show some promise.