Annoyed With The New Firefox Look And Feel? Here Is How To Fix It.

Ok, this isn’t a Hey You Kids Get Off My Lawn thing.

Change is sometimes good.  When someone looks long at how something works, makes a tweak, you will know if it is right.

If it isn’t right for you, then sometimes there is a way to fix it.

When I was presented with the opportunity to give my computer a wholesale upgrade, I thought long and hard about going to Windows 8.1.  I don’t like it, many of us don’t.  So why bother?  I installed Classic Shell, and now my Windows 8.1 looks like Windows 7. 

I did it because the new full-screen Modern or Metro apps are useless to me, the live tiles are worthless to someone who lives on the Desktop, and they are a vector for advertising that I have not found a way to block.  I completely uninstalled most of them and since I work very heavily on the desktop, I feel no loss.

Windows 8.1 is faster, slightly, than Windows 7, so I’m enjoying the minor slight speed bump.  I’m still not liking it any time I have to jump into the ugly block land of the Metro apps, but it is only when I have to fiddle with the system that I have to go there.

Why the Windows nonsense on a Firefox post?  There’s a reason.

Firefox changed the way everything looks on the newest update called “Australis” on Windows 8.1.  The old “shine” is gone.  Everything is flat and mostly “Primary colors”. 

I describe it as simply ugly.  The old shine had a great effect, you could find things at a glance on a very busy screen easier.  Granted, you were trained to recognize that the individual elements were separated by color and separators were very visible as a dark line, the most current tab of a tabbed interface was lighter, the other tabs were darker, but did not blend into the background which was a third color.

There is a good reason for this.  Humans are good at pattern recognition.  This is why the “Big Dipper” is a constellation resembling a dipper.  It LOOKS like SOMETHING.  It isn’t a random pattern, although in actuality it really is since some of the stars in the Big Dipper are much closer than others.

So when Firefox upgraded, they went with a new look and feel.   It looks very Windows 8.1 Metro Modern.  Which is to say “Flat and Blocky”.

I don’t like Flat and Blocky.  I have open dozens of tabs at any given moment, sometimes more than one hundred.  It slows me down.

If you want to fix that and find it ugly and want to go back to the old school way of doing things, thankfully Firefox recognizes that you still can.  It is even in their official documentation how to do so.  This update is all about giving you the power to customize the browser. 

Unfortunately they removed the add on bar at the bottom of the browser completely and that broke my weather app that I depended on heavily for current conditions.  I’ll have to go out and write a webpage to monitor the weather itself.  While I could use the practice in HTML 5, I’d prefer it not to have been forced upon me.

You can follow their instructions here.

Simply put you will be adding an “Add On” to Firefox.  It will change it back to the way it looked “yesterday” before you did the upgrade by default.  Install it and you are done.  Add Ons typically work on all versions of the browser, although I haven’t tried it out on my Mac or my Linux machines, I expect this will not be a problem.

All I wanted was my old square edged tabs back in grey with the current tab bright silver, and it gave me that back.

The steps are simple:

Don’t worry, if you want to turn off Classic Theme Restorer, you can within its own preferences found in the Firefox Tools Menu.

It will install the theme restorer.  With that you can change a lot more of the way Firefox looks.  If you really do like the curvy tabs, you can put them back by selecting the proper theme elements.  My biggest problem is that the visual clues are not at all obvious with this new “Australis” theme.  The break between the inactive tabs is much less obvious and the result is that it slows me down.

With Classic Theme Restorer, I can put that back.  There is a Curved Alternative Theme that looks almost exactly like Google’s Chrome tabs so if you like that, feel free.  I just tweaked it to look that way now, and my browser looks like a file drawer full of old grey Manila folders inside Pendaflex holders.

Skeuomorphism to the rescue!

After all, if customization was the goal, I took advantage of it.  I bent the browser to my will and customized it – back to the way it was. 

Useable.

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