Firefox Will Rock on Mac OS X

Firefox 1.5 was a major milestone on all platforms, but it was not quite what it could have been on Mac OS X. We just didn’t have the resources to test for and fix bugs fast enough when release time rolled around. However, not delaying the release was a decision that I was happy with because it was the right thing to do, even if it meant less-than-great Mac OS X support. Firefox 1.5 was still a major upgrade in terms of Mac OS X support, and nothing to be ashamed of.

Once Firefox 1.5 was out the door, we got the time we needed to test for and fix some of the major bugs in Firefox 1.5 for Mac OS X. Mozilla’s release drivers were great about helping us get the results of that effort into the upcoming Firefox release, and I’m writing this blog post to let you know that Firefox is going to be everything Firefox 1.5 could have been on Mac OS X. You should definitely download it as soon as it comes out.

We’re really busy these days working on 3 major projects:
1) Porting all Mozilla products to Intel Mac OS X. The results of this work will appear as soon as Intel Macs ship.
2) Rewriting much of the Mac OS X infrastructure to use Apple’s Cocoa API (basically, Cocoa widgets). The results of this work will appear in Firefox 3.
3) Working on Firefox and Firefox 2.0. These releases have almost identical codebases in terms of Mac OS X support, so they are sort of the same task as far as I’m concerned. Firefox 2 differs from Firefox in that Firefox 2 will have more and better higher-level features.

65 thoughts on “Firefox Will Rock on Mac OS X

  1. When is it expected for Firefox to have native Cocoa widgets? And what about text boxes, which even Camino doesn’t seem to support native Cocoa text boxes since they seem to use the wrong font and don’t support OS X’s integrated spell checker, which is a major blow for a Mac web browser, especially for someone who uses it a great deal on forums and web mail.

  2. I have one bug that is only OS X related, I didn’t post to BugZilla, here it goes :

    1) Create a Bookmark folder in your Bookmarks Toolbar Folder
    2) put some bookmarks (2 is enough) in the new folder
    3) Open the folder by clicking on it
    4) Try to right click on one of the bookmarks (to open it in a new tab for instance)

    Result : you don’t get the menu (that you should) from a right click.

    It acts like if you clicked directly on the bookmark.

    I have about 80 extensions, and didn’t want to remove or disable all the extensions to try to reproduce on a blank Firefox 1.5

    Cheers and keep up the good work,

    PS: This is not a problem on Windows and Solaris, with the same 80 extensions (give or take one or two) !

  3. That’s great to hear! I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought 1.5 was less polished on Mac than it could have been. I’ve seen a lot more instability around Quicktime and Windows Media Player in 1.5 than previously, for example (often not even spawning Talkback). Is this one of the issues for

  4. Josh, can you tell us which of the nightly offerings is the most up-to-date? Is it the mozilla 1.8.0/ or the mozilla 1.8? I always struggle with which one is which.

    thanks. . .

  5. Brandon: Cocoa widgets does not mean native widgets–native widgets are probably never going to be in either Firefox or Camino. Cocoa widgets roughly means using the same widget set as Camino, which is to say widgets that use Cocoa APIs to emulate the appearance and (most) behaviors of native widgets.

  6. In a first test of the 2006010503 build of I stumbled over a pretty obvious regression with being able to scroll pages by pulling the button of the vertical scrollbar down and up. I think there was a similar bug in the nightlies a few months ago, I’ll have to try to find it.

    Sample (attention: tabloid page ;-):

    After the page is loaded try to scroll down by pulling the button of the vertical scrollbar down.

    Besides that the 2006010503 build looks great already. Thanks for all the hard work!!


  7. Kesh, Keychain support in Firefox (afaik) is not going to happen, mostly because being cross-platform means not using certain OS-specific abilities like the Keychain. Camino does do this, however.

  8. Andrew: Camino is a completely separate project which predates Firefox, not a port of Firefox.
    All it means for Camino is that Camino will benefit directly from work that is done on Firefox’s OS X widgets, and vice-versa, since they will have one shared (at least in large part) widget implementation.

  9. I prefer that Firefox doesn’t use those OS X native “gumdrop” or whatever buttons that look crap on webpages.

  10. Here’s a list of Mac bugs with the fixed1.8.0.1 keyword or approval1.8.0.1+ flag, in the Firefox and Core components:

    It’s a pity that we can’t get bug 299417 fixed for 1.5.0.x, but overall I’m still pretty happy with Firefox on the Mac.

  11. Actually, there is a big difference between labelling a and a 1.5.1, but let’s forget the dots for a bit.

    – The 1501 is really a point fix consisting of only bug fixes.
    – The 151 would consist of bigger fixes which could change the interface somehow (for instance the preference panes) but without changing the API AND without adding features.
    – The 16 would add features without changing the programming interface at all.
    – The 20 could change the programming interface or underlying libraries (for instance moving from Gecko to Cairo).

    The 4 number version numbers date back to the 80s when version numbers really meant something in development, nowadays version numbers ( la M$) don’t mean a thing except for the marketing department.

    Thanks to the Mozilla Foundation to re-establish it’s legitimacy, so we can actually follow where our preferred products are in their development cycles.

    For those who haven’t followed the Firefox/Thunderbird development, the shift from the 1.0 to the 1.5 version was decided to reflect the new features that where added in the products.



  12. Right now, I’m using a nightly version of, and I’m both impressed and disappointed. It works alot better than it used to, especially scrolling and display problems. However, its still quite unpolished and ugly. I wanted to switch to Firefox because more sites work on Firefox, but I think I may return to Safari again until Firefox 3. Sorry guys, I really do love your work on Firefox PC.

  13. I’ve been using The Mac Firefox Release
    for a few days now, And am pretty happy with its
    quickness. I would LOVE to see Mac OS Keychain
    support and will vote for Bug # 106400,
    Provide Keychain Access for Mac OS.

  14. “2) Rewriting much of the Mac OS X infrastructure to use Apple’s Cocoa API (basically, Cocoa widgets). The results of this work will appear in Firefox 3.”

    I remember Mozilla promising this already for Firefox 1.0

  15. The 4 number version numbers date back to the 80s when version numbers really meant something in development, nowadays version numbers ( la M$) don’t mean a thing except for the marketing department. […] For those who haven’t followed the Firefox/Thunderbird development, the shift from the 1.0 to the 1.5 version was decided to reflect the new features that where added in the products.

    Not to sound catty at all, because I’m terribly happy with the work of the Firefox team, but I’m still fuzzy on the 1.0 > 1.5 jump. (And correct, I haven’t followed the development, except as a web developer who keeps up with the state of rendering engines.) Is there a technical or roadmap justification for jumping by 5 “.x” decimals? Is there a particular number of new features “per .x” that justifies moving past the next consecutive point?

    I certainly don’t want to accuse Ritchie’s two statements above of being inconsistent — that the Firefox team is slipping a little MS-style marketing into their point convention — but again I’m still fuzzy on why 1.0 > 1.5 and not 1.1.

  16. Please make sure usage of Services is implemented . . . thanks! A devout NoteTaker who loves beig able to save webclips into notebooks . . .

  17. Has anyone else noticed that Firefox doesn’t seem to use Apple ColorSync profile when displaying images? Or something like that anyway – the point is that if you compare websites in Safari and Firefox (on the mac, obviously) the colours are noticably different, on images with colour profiles embedded.

    This picture seems to be especially colorful and suffers on the Mac Firefox:

    (with apologies if it looks identical as I’m posting from work on a PC. From memory they are different!)

  18. Hrm.. I recently purchased an iBook which is PPC. With the upcoming switch to intel, how long do I have until firefox is no longer developed for me?

  19. I’d guess about 5-8 years, maybe even longer. Firefox for PPC will certainly be supported as long as Apple releases Mac OS X updates for the PowerPC and that will be at least 3 years. Thereafter, Firefox will still be updated for PPC as long as it doesn’t need a version of Mac OS X that is only available for Intel Macs – that will give you AT LEAST another 2 years. So don’t worry – you probably won’t be using your iBook anymore when Firefox support is dropped. 🙂

  20. 1.5 is fairly slow when used in FileVault-protected accounts. Esp. if I start to open a few tabs, the app often needs several seconds to respond to keyboard commands and mouse clicks, for example when asked to switch tabs, when invoking save, or when hiding it to background.
    This has not been the case up and including 1.07.

    Martin (PB G4, Panther 1039)

  21. when we can have firfox for intel mac.i will get my i mac core due tomorrow,is there any build for camino exists that can be used with this nativly.

  22. There is some problem with drag and drop of URLs from address bar to other applications. As a programmer explained to me, FF is “writing data to the WebURLsWithTitlesPboardType pasteboard when hosting a drag but not all the data it could.”
    For example, drag URLs from Safari or Camino address bar into a Textedit document window, and the dropped snippet will be hyperlinked. Whereas URLs dragged from FireFox address bar will be dropped as plain (ie non-hyperlinked) text.

  23. Possibly just my incompetence but don’t seem to be able to copy my Firefox bookmarks from my Win version to the newly acquired MAC OS-X. Any help or suggestion? Thanks

  24. Downloaded and using OS X 10.4.4
    Firefox started out using 112MB(!) of RAM. I’ve got 5 tabs open and since having it open for ~20 min. it has ballooned to 127MB(!!) of RAM. Page loading still sucks up 100% of my CPU making it *by far* the slowest browser on my machine. Are lousy extensions perhaps dragging the FireFox experience through the mud?

    Don’t know if that helps but I appreciate your work with making the OSX port of FireFox better. I hope you can track down and stop this behavior so I can use FireFox again.

  25. Keep up the good work! Firefox would be much funnier to use if the form inputs was in Mac Os X -style. Today Firefox forms look like Netscape 2

  26. Well, is out now, and according to this…

    *Mac-specific bugs

    * 313988 – [Mac OS X 10.3] Positioned select drop-down doesn’t work.
    * 298502 – [Mac OS X 10.2] Empty pulldown menu and Firefox hangs. (This bug was the reason the “system requirements” page for Firefox 1.5 said it required Mac OS X 10.3.)

    So can we have a new estimate for the release number that will make Firefox on the mac rock?

  27. isn’t rocking for me in 10.3.9. ‘Page up’ and ‘page down’ never work, ‘end’ works occasionally, ‘home’ is OK. All worked perfectly in 1.0.7.
    Also seems slower on some pages and more difficulty highlighting text. My only extension is Firefoxy, to get rid of the ugly ‘Windows look’.
    Also, when will we be able to copy and paste text to word processors and have the fonts and colors stay the same, as they do in Safari and iCab? If I could do that, I’d have little use for Safari, as it is noticably slower.

  28. It was working fine for me on 10.3.9

    Now all the sudden many images won’t display. They are there and if they are a linked image the link still works, only the image won’t show up! It just happened all of the sudden. Any ideas?

  29. I aggree partially with Martin’s post.

    Using 10.3.9 and, ‘Page up’ and ‘page down’ never work, but “end’ and ‘home’ are fine.

  30. “Firefox 1.5 was a major milestone on all platforms, but it was not quite what it could have been on Mac OS X. We just didn’t have the resources to test for and fix bugs fast enough when release time rolled around. However, not delaying the release was a decision that I was happy with because it was the right thing to do, even if it meant less-than-great Mac OS X support. ”

    It also meant that I removed it from my drive because it would not work. In my book, Firefox is a piece of junk based on that experience. This is probably not correct but it is the impression a lot of people may have come to believe.

    I hate it when buggy software is released just to meet a deadline. 4D used to do this and used the developers as bug testers.

  31. Are there plans to support the OS network settings in future versions of FF like Camino? As a school network admin, it would make our inclusion of FF to our image builds easier if we did not have to hack it to force proxy settings, etc.

  32. Is there not a way to implement keychain support as a plugin or other type of add-on. I feel so locked into Safari at this point and I am really not willing to go through all my passwords just to use Firefox.

  33. I just found a possible fix for “page up/page down” not working:
    Turn off caret browsing in firefox by either:
    1. toggle it with F7
    2. goto Firefox > Preferences > Advanced > General Tab > “uncheck” the “allow text to be selected with the keyboard” option

  34. I am running an Intel Mac. Is anyone else having this problem: I can’t get more than page 1 to show up in preview or print. Dang. This happens in Gmail or printing info from web sites. It works in other browsers.

    I have enjoyed using FireFox, but I am running into too many problems lately. I am beginning to think I should be looking for other watering holes.

  35. linh, you’re brilliant. I have been looking for a workaround for the page up/page down bug for quite some time.

    …now if someone could find a fix for the bug where Favicons don’t show up in the “Go” or “Bookmarks” menus (even though every other current browser on the Mac has this capability).

  36. I’d really, really like to use Firefox on OS X, but the lack of Keychain support is a showstopper. I’ve gone through all the other browsers available for OS X and none of them possess the all-around goodness of Firefox with the right set of extensions installed.

    Of the runners up, OmniWeb 5.1 is amazing in many respects, but suffers due to its ancient (Safari 1.3) rendering engine. Camino is not bad, but (as of yet) lacks basic functionality such as saving and restoring the currently open set of tabs.

    It’s a frustrating enough situation that I’m giving consideration to writing a Keychain-to-Firefox synchronizer app – unless somebody already knows of one?

  37. I am running Fire Fox on an Intel Mac and the fonts on the adress bar and the fonts on the preferences have changed to a very hard to read font. I cant get it to change back. Also the laeft and right arrows on the key board arent working either.

    Can you help?

  38. For some time now, I have been wishing support in Firefox for the AppleScript command do JavaScript.

    Can this please be added?

    It should not be too difficult to add. I need it for users of my password manager Web Confidential for Mac.


  39. Great discussion guys!

    Lack of Keychain support was a real pain for me, but I liked the Firefox extensions so much I just had to use it.

    I personally use Camino as my first choice while browsing – it is fast and has style. For all web development I have to switch to Firefox as I find the development environment the best. I will then tab over to Flock if I want to write a quick blog entry. And of course, I also need to use Safari for testing.

    All this tabbing about used to be real pain in the *** because these browsers didn’t share passwords; this is why I had to write 1Passwd.

    1Passwd is a Password Manager & AutoFill program that integrates with the OS X Keychain. 1Passwd integrates directly with Camino, Safari, Firefox, and Flock so that no matter which one you are using you never need to leave your browser to find your passwords.

  40. Using Firefox on Intel Mac 17 inch PowerMac – latest updated everything (software) Firefox is as usual the fastest browser around….BUT — Downloads no longer work The download window comes up but nothing downloads …just an empty window…Safari works fine and downloads binaries, programs everything. Any idea how to fix this? I’ve reinstalled Firefox – dumped .plst files…nothing’s working – Thanks Andy Field Bethesda, Maryland

  41. Can you help? After installing noscript plug-in, all of a sudden a lot of website gifs and jpgs won’t load (for instance, the item photo thumbs and pics on ebay). I uninstalled no-script, reinstalled firefox, but no improvement. What can I do? I have a Macbook intel 17″


  42. I’ve been using firefox for quite a while, but hadn’t really confirmed the colorsync problem mentioned by Deacon Nikolai above until I calibrated my monitor, and suddenly it was very clear–

    link is a screenshot on my macbook showing the appearance of the same image in firefox, safari,a nd internet explorer. Only the safari image shows the true intensity of the colors, especially the red tones.

    When will firefox support colorsync?

  43. I just downloaded Firefox and I have a Powerpc G3 Mac ibook. With my old version of Firefox 1.0 I could click on a link and if I held the button down a drop menu would appear with options like “Save link as..”
    Now with the new version, I hold down on a link and get no drop down menu. Can I fix this somewhere in my settings?


  44. Downloads are still not working. The download window comes up but nothing shows as being downloaded. Sometimes the download occurs and sometimes it does not. As well as sometimes only a partial download occurs. This has been an issue since 1.5+ current Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X; en-US; rv: Gecko/20070219 Firefox/ still broken for downloads.

  45. I’ve done it before, and can’t seem to do it again: Transfer the bookmark/toolbar contents from one computer to another. WHERE is that file?!

  46. Fr. Gregory, there is an application which I can’t remember the name of unfortunately that makes moving bookmarks for Firefox super easy. I’ll have to go look it up.

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