It is a bit difficult to explain what the experimental Firefox extension Home Dash does, at least in one sentence.
Home Dash removes the Firefox interface, and with interface I mean everything from the address bar to toolbars, menus and the status bar.
Every visible element of the UI is gone after installation. It gets replaced with a tiny icon in the upper left screen of the browser that triggers the dashboard.
The dashboard is the user interface replacement that offers access to open tabs, a search and the 24 most used bookmarks.
The project is still in development and customization options for the screen will be added in a later release. For now, that's all you get.
It is possible to switch to another tab from there. Tabs can also be rearranged which is important for the keyboard shortcuts that trigger them. The search can not only be used to find information on the Internet, but also to filter the open tabs and bookmarks. Results are displayed instantly, and they do update instantly as well if they are refined.
Sites that are installed are displayed as a preview in the Home Dash interface on mouse hover.
The built-in web search acts similar but offers an interesting twist. It is possible to display one or two search engines. The open search engines are powered by the information entered into the search form in the Home Dash interface. Even better, they get updated automatically whenever the search term changes.
The search form acts as the location bar as well, urls are automatically recognized and loaded. There does not seem to be a way to open urls in a new tab at this point in time.
Keyboard shortcuts are essential when the user interface is minimized like this. Some shortcuts are already available, for instance Ctrl-number to switch between open tabs or Ctrl-l to open the location bar to enter an url or search. Another important shortcut is Alt-Shift-Ctrl-D which activates the standard Firefox layout temporarily.
The developer has published a tips and troubleshooting guide that is a good read for users who want to try out the add-on.
Open Dash is only available for Firefox 4.09b and newer. The restartless add-on can be downloaded from the Mozilla add-on repository. Make sure you download version 2 of the add-on, and not version 1 which is still offered on the frontpage at the time of writing. (via)
Update: The guide is no longer available and the add-on has last been updated in 2011. While you may still be able to install it, lack of support makes this more of an interesting experiment than anything you can really work with as you won't receive updates or new features.
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