Display Firefox's add-on manager in a separate window

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 11, 2012
Firefox, Firefox add-ons

Mozilla for some time now has been working on integrating Firefox menus that open in a separate window natively in the browser. The add-on manager is probably the best example right now. It previously opened up in a separate window that you could control separately from the main Firefox browser window. Soon, Firefox will display preferences in a tab instead of a separate options window, and downloads in a panel in the browser instead of the download manager.

While I had issues testing the browser's in-content preferences, I do not really mind that the add-ons manager is displayed in its own browser tab instead of a separate window. It still gives me the flexibility to open it in its separate window, simply by dragging and dropping the about:addons tab away from the browser window so that it is opened in its own browser window.

Add-ons Manager Dialog Returns is a Firefox extension that enables the browser to open the add-ons manager in its own dialog window instead of a tab. Note that the full add-ons manager is displayed in the tab, so that you have access to extensions, plugins, Greasemonkey scripts or themes from the window.

firefox addons manager

The author of the Firefox add-on has added several improvements on top of the core functionality that may improve the extension's appeal for some users.

  • Keyboard shortcuts have been added. You can use Esc to close the manager window, Ctrl-B to switch back to the most recent browser window, Ctrl-Alt-R to restart the browser, E to switch to extensions, A to appearance, Cltr-Shift-U to check for updates for all add-ons and several more.
  • Can collapse tab names on the right sidebar of the add-on manager
  • Can set the Firefox Add-ons homepage as the default page that opens up when you click on Get Add-ons

You are probably wondering if there are any negatives about the add-on. There is one, and it may keep a lot of users from using the add-on. There is a visible delay (1-2 seconds on the test PC)  before the new add-ons manager window opens. If you do not mind that delay, you find download options on the official Mozilla add-ons repository.


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  1. Ken Saunders said on October 12, 2012 at 3:53 am

    “While I had issues testing the browser’s in-content preferences”
    What kinds of issues?
    Could you access it?
    browser.preferences.inContent true?

    I don’t care for the in-content prefs because you have to click back instead having all of the panels displayed like they currently are in the preferences window.
    I’ve considered writing an add-on for myself to always display them, but I’ll wait for someone else to do it. I’m too busy.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 12, 2012 at 7:49 am

      Ken that was exactly my biggest issue, that it took a lot more time to go through different menu items. And that icons that add-ons placed in the settings were not shown.

  2. B. Moore said on October 11, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    I’ve been using Classicish Add-on Manager for a while now…. might have to give this one a go.

  3. voor said on October 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    I use Classicish Add-on Manager, which has the added bonus of removing the “Get Add-ons” option that I don’t need. I’ve also seen a slight delay before the addon window opens on some of my slower PCs, so it may be something inherent in Firefox 4+ and not specific to either of these addons.


  4. Joe said on October 11, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Right click on the about:addons tab and select “Move to New Window”.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 11, 2012 at 7:59 pm

      Another option, great ;)

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