What's the best Firefox or Opera browser alternative?

Martin Brinkmann
May 29, 2013
Updated • May 29, 2013

One of Google Chrome's major weaknesses or shortcomings is the browser's lack of user interface customization options. It is a take it or leave it interface that is giving users no options whatsoever to customize it.

You cannot move toolbar icons around, add a second toolbar (other than the bookmarks bar), or place new icons in locations in the browser to speed things up (other than with add-ons).

Opera Software released a preview of Opera 15 yesterday. It is the first desktop version of Opera based on Chromium, which Google Chrome is also based on.

While it is too early to tell if the final version will provide the same feature set, it is fair to say that this version feels like Google Chrome with a couple of Opera features sprinkled on it. The browser is as customizable as Chrome, which means that you cannot really customize it in any way or form. This is a stark contrast to Opera 12.15, the latest version of the browser based on the old rendering engine.

Opera turned from a highly customizable browser into a browser that you cannot customize at all.

But the Norwegian company is not the only that is reducing user choice. Mozilla too started work on a new design and changes in the popular Firefox browser, likely a result of Google Chrome pushing into the market.

There have been smaller changes in recent time, like the removal of the status bar but nothing major. This changes when Firefox 25 gets released as it will ship with the Australis theme enabled by default if nothing gets into the way in the meantime.

While things won't be as bleak as in Opera, some customizing options will get removed from the browser after all. This may include the add-on bar, all custom user created toolbars and less options when it comes to the icons in the navigational toolbar.

Firefox 25 will still be the browser that you can customize the most, at least where the top 5 browsers are concerned.


Firefox 24 is the next ESR (Extended Support Release) of the browser. This release will be supported for a period of eight release cycles so that Firefox users can switch to it temporarily to avoid Australis.

SeaMonkey on the other hand may be it. The Internet application suite combines a browser, mail reader and other tools under its hood. While it is using Firefox for the browsing part, it is not following when it comes to design changes that Mozilla made in the past.

It is for instance still using a status bar and I have not seen any evidence yet that this is going to change when Mozilla releases the Australis theme to the public.

seamonkey firefox alternative

Since it is based on Firefox, it is possible to install most add-ons for the browser in SeaMonkey as well. Opera users on the other hand may like the integrated email client that the suite ships with. While they will certainly have to spend more time adjusting to the new environment, it is certainly closer to Opera 12.15 than Opera 15 is in its current state of development.

SeaMonkey is by no means the perfect solution, but there are not really that many left that you can use.

Windows users can also look at Pale Moon, a version of the browser maintained by a single developer. It is however not clear how Pale Moon will look and feel like when Firefox 25 gets released.

Closing Words

Firefox and Opera do not become unusable when the changes land and there are good arguments for adjusting to change to keep on using them. It may take some time to adjust and find new ways to work with the browser, but that is not really the core issue here, at least not for me. Customizations make Firefox and Opera great, and easily distinguishable from a one-interface for everyone browser like Chrome.

If they take that away from the browser, they are removing one of the main reasons for using Firefox or Opera.


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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