Good News: Firefox's Add-on Bar won't be removed after all in Australis redesign

Martin Brinkmann
May 15, 2013

Firefox's Australis redesign is a hot topic right now on the Internet. I'm heavily interested in this as well as I'm using Firefox as my main browser and while I do not mind change as much as others, it has to make sense before I embrace it.

Australis was recently launched as a public UX build that you can install independently from your other Firefox installations. That's great for testing purposes, for instance to see if all of your add-ons and modifications are still working under the new design or if some fail to work because of changes introduced by it. The version is not feature complete yet and you will see changes being introduced in newer builds over the next couple of weeks and months.

Mozilla posted a list of changes that it planned to make to the browser in terms of customization options in April 2013. One of the most controversial points on the list was the removal of the add-on bar. Mozilla's original plan was to remove the add-on bar from the browser code to reintroduce it as an extension instead.

The add-on bar is a small toolbar at the bottom of the screen that holds extension icons mostly. It replaced the status bar in Firefox 4.

firefox addon bar

Good news for users who did not like the change: Mozilla made the decision to keep the add-on bar as part of the browser.  Mozilla wants to avoid clutter in the browser's main toolbar, as it was originally planned to move all add-on icons into the toolbar just like Google Chrome does.

This was especially problematic for Jetpack (restartless) add-ons that use a large area to display information. The MemChaser extension displays a long list of memory related information in the status bar of the browser. Moving add-ons like it to the main toolbar would render it useless rather quickly.

Compatibility with existing add-ons that placed icons automatically in the add-on bar were another issue, as it was almost certain that some add-ons would not be updated in time or at all to use the new position in the main toolbar.


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  1. John Doe said on July 27, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    And finally in 2014 The add-on bar has been removed from firefox without any justification from mozilla.

  2. Bob said on November 20, 2013 at 1:48 am

    So, they actually got rid of the add-on bar in Australis….and now the Classic Toolbar Add-on doesn’t have that option anymore that I can see.. Any hope for the add-on bar???

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 20, 2013 at 7:45 am

      You can use the Classic Theme Restorer add-on to display the add-on bar again.

  3. Anonymous said on October 25, 2013 at 4:40 am

    Firefox thinking about canceling the Add-on bar? I find that refreshing and a wonderful news! I cannot wait for the day the add-on bar is canceled. I truly dislike the bar and find no use for it at all. I have approximately 50 Firefox add-ons. Some of them which I really like are placed (by force) in the add-on bar but believe it or not, I’m willing to say my goodbyes to those fine add-ons just for the sake of getting rid of the add-on bar.

    I dislike clutter, I truly dislike clutter to the point that I find it impossible to work if my browser is not “neat” and very well organized to my liking. The add-on bar is the only bar in Firefox that takes my freedom away because it allows developers to create add-ons that cannot be moved around. I dislike that and I think that if you like your browser clutter free there are quite a few add-ons there that allow you to have many add-ons and still keep your browser looking neat and even almost empty without the need for the add-on bar (ex. All-in-one sidebar, FVD Speed Dial, Menu Editor, Personal Menu).

    I personally have all my bars disabled in Firefox, except for my Navigation bar which has only 5 add-ons to the right and 5 to the left, one of which is the button to toggle my sidebar on and off for easy access to the rest of my add-ons. Other add-ons that I still need but use less, I have placed in Firefox menus and some in my context menu (which thanks to the menu editor is very organized and short).

    All that being said, I was totally alright with the existence of the add-on bar because it was hidden at all times so it did not bother me. However, recently no matter what I try, every time I start Firefox, the add-on bar is enabled by default. I hide the add-on bar, re-start Firefox and there it is again. Now it has become a routine of mine, (start Firefox, hide add-on bar. Start Firefox, hide add-on bar AGAIN) and it is starting to become VERY frustrating. I even disabled all my add-ons encase one of the add-one was triggering the add-on bar but to no avail.

    I’m a Firefox fan and would never switch to Chrome no matter what. I love it’s flexibility and the ability to customize it just the way one wants. So, I really hope that Firefox does cancel the add-on bar.

    I do apologies to those of you who have strong feelings about keeping the bar but I really don’t think that the bar should be forced on everyone. If the add-on bar can be turned into an expansion then why not? If you need it, get it and if it’s bothering you, then don’t get it. Nice, simple and fully customizable just the way Firefox has always been.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 25, 2013 at 8:38 am

      So, instead of just hiding the add-on bar on your system, which you can do with two mouse-clicks, you want it gone so that everyone who likes it cannot use it anymore?

    2. Anonymous said on October 25, 2013 at 4:49 am

      I meant “add-ons” and not “add-one”. I also meant “extension” and not “expansion”. My apologies for any other spelling mistakes. I’m too tired.

  4. Carsomyr said on September 6, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    God damn it Mozilla, Why forcing People to add add-ons! Replacing things which are useful and serve a fundamental purpose is tedious and shows a clear deficite in managment and planning capacities.

    And i have to agree the many nope Voters in the Web, Australis is a definitely No-Use-Reason. Why should i as normal non Techie user install stuff i do not want at all. Third Party Solutions.. What the hell! Do the guys at Mozilla do not know how to maintain and update Features??

    Chrome is the optimized Beginner’s User, and the only reason i asked my pc guy to install Firefox was because i have heared you can make it look truly different to other Bowsers.

    That seems to be soon gone, then my PC Guy should install Chrome now, because what that guy has shown me of the Firefox Australis Preview… Well, there are going the things which made Firefox awesome.

    And we simple users want to go always the way with the least amount of work and technological knowledge to get our stuff done.

    Mozilla tries to create stuff this days for us more simple users? Seriously? Australis shows that that is not true!

  5. MrCustom said on September 6, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Been always a more advanced or so called Power User. Great to see that kind of add-ons upcoming, for the normal or a bit more advanced users which do not like the look, a heaven’s sent present!

    But for Power Users.. I know at least 30 more guys which are using the Browser*s customization Options to the max.. We guys do most of the time prefer to have the Options inside the Code and not being forced to re add them with add-ons!

    For a simple reason, Hardcoded Browser Options do provide a much more clean and bug free solution compared to third Party add-ons.

    Guess i have to search then another Browser for Linux which serves my Needs, what a pitty, i enjoyed Firefox from it’s start, first on Windows and after my switch to Linux too!

  6. Orhin said on May 16, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    New Developement on the Toolbar Sector…!topic/firefox-dev/ua6yBQk0E_s

    They indeed still planning to remove the Bar, there is quite a fraction which still votes to Remove the Bar right now, or at least “Freeze it” Until is is possible to migrate add-on Bar needing Add-ons to the upper Bars/Overflow Area.

    Removing Features many love and use… This decision is truly equal compared with something like VLC Player Devs suddenly would get the idea to make the Browser User Error free with removing the ability to control the sound volume.

    Do the VLC guys make something like that? No! But UX Team still insists with acting like that. Sorry Pals, if i “do not want to eat Fish in an restaurant, and the cook still offers me fish because he thinks it fits me better as a good bloody steak” – then that Restaurant will never see me again!

    What an utterly disappointment. I will for sure not recommend Firefox to anyone anymore.

    Btw. did you know that there is a petition for Chrome going on which is about “adding a customizable toolbar” and some think to move to Firefox because of the Existence of Custom Toolbars? And Mozilla wants to take that away!

    Very brilliant Decision Mozilla!

  7. pd said on May 15, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    hopefully the first of many backflips

  8. Anonymous said on May 15, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Well, in the end it will be no problem for me, because Firefox Aurora 23 will be the last version i will use, not fond of that Australis Stuff, and i am not interested in Googlezilla Firechrome :P

    1. trlkly said on September 14, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      At the very least, use Firefox 24ESR, so you can still get security updates. And, yes, that’s better than the other alternatives which force you into a 64-bit solution that breaks a bunch of plugins. They’re doing the same thing as Mozilla, just in a different way.

  9. Rick said on May 15, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    How long before we get an add-on to bring back the add-on bar? lol

    I have the grid drawn on the inside of a pizza box lid and am taking bets :)

    1. BobbyPhoenix said on May 16, 2013 at 9:18 am
      1. Anonymous said on September 14, 2013 at 7:36 pm

        No, that brings back the status bar. There is no addon that brings back the addon bar as of yet. I’m not even sure how there could be until they remove it, so people can see exactly what they’d have to put back.

        And then they have to make it work entirely with the new customization method, which Mozilla is doing their darnedest to make difficult. I don’t get it. If other people want the addon bar, then why is it in Mozilla’s interest to try and prevent it? That really will make people change browsers.

        I just do not get this attitude that developers know what’s best for everyone. I just wonder where the hell they get this God complex they seem to have.

  10. Solidstate89 said on May 15, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Good. I use it all the time with the Barlesque add-on that automatically hides it when not in use.

  11. firefoxlover said on May 15, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    I hope that the addon bar won’t disappear because of the NoSquint extension that cannot be moved to another place in the browser.

    1. Orhin said on May 15, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      Well, the addon developer has then to find a good way to migrate his code that it fits the Australis Solution.

      We may have the addon Bar as a feature again, but only Mozilla knows how long this “Migration Time Period” in which the addon bar is still allowed to exist will last. So.. perhaps one, perhaps more Firefox Versions after Australis hits the field.

      But we have sadly won nothing at all :(

  12. Rick said on May 15, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Has someone at Mozilla forgotten that you can hide the addon bar (and I think it comes out of the box this was)? Jeesh.

  13. Orhin said on May 15, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Sorry, i forgot to post where this was stated.. Here you have the links for all which are interested to read about that:!topic/firefox-dev/ua6yBQk0E_s


  14. Orhin said on May 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    At least some good thing. But it was stated that the Addon Bar will only be added perhaps temporarily.

    Partly because of the reason because of the Cluttered Nav Bar and until the Addon Devs migrate their code to that “new Australis situation” – So you can really expect the same problem with the danger of the removal of that feature come back again in some versions.

    You can find that Information easily at Bugzilla and there is also a post about that on Google Firefox-devs group.

    So do not put your hope too high into that matter!

  15. PixelWizard said on May 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Thanks, Martin – it’s a relief. Of course we all have more important problems! But I’m one who really didn’t relish that particular change.

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