Good News: Firefox Add-on to restore classic functionality when Australis launches

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 1, 2013
Updated • Nov 19, 2013

If you mention the upcoming Firefox interface overhaul Australis to Firefox users, you may notice that at least part of the user base of the browser is opposed to it. The major reason for this opposition are changes that come along with Australis, most notably to the customization options that Firefox currently provides to its user base.

Mozilla plans to remove a couple of options from Firefox, for instance the use of custom toolbars, tabs on bottom, the add-on bar (likely) or the small icons mode.

The organization promised that it will be possible to restore all functionality using the browser's extension engine. We have already seen that happen in the past, for instance by re-enabling preferences in the browser's options.

But Australis will remove a lot of features, and it was not really clear if add-on developers would create extensions in time to provide users with restore options.

Mozilla developer Aris, who is responsible for the Classic Toolbar Buttons add-on revealed that he has created an add-on that many Firefox users will see as godsend.

firefox australis restore old interface

It has been designed for Australis exclusively to restore the following functionality:

  • Squared Tabs.
  • Disable Tabs on Top.
  • Small nav-bar buttons (only Windows).
  • Findbar at the bottom.
  • Hide navigation toolbar.
  • Restore addons toolbar.
  • Restore navigation toolbars "text" mode and "icon+text" mode.
  • Application button / application menu hidden, on toolbars, on titlebar.
  • Application button / menu color choices.
  • Bookmarks menu button and sidebar button.
  • History sidebar button.
  • Reload button
  • Moveable PanelUI button, back-forward button, urlbar.

Probably the most important modification of the list is the restoration of the addons bar. Mozilla plans to remove it in Australis, which would mean that all add-on icons are displayed in the browser's main toolbar just like in Chrome. This may look awful depending on how many buttons your extensions add to it.

Firefox australis with old firefox design

Other features of interest include the ability to display the history and bookmarks in the sidebar, move tabs to the bottom, restore squared tabs to save space, and re-enable the small buttons mode.

There are still some things that the extension does not tackle, like a user's ability to create custom toolbars, but it should help the majority of Firefox users who do not like Australis.

You are probably wondering where you can get the extension? It is not released yet. The developer promised to release it as soon as Australis hits the Nightly channel of the Firefox web browser.

It is still not clear if Australis will launch in Firefox 26 or 27, or even postponed further down the line. What's is clear though is that it will come, and that Firefox users will have adequate options at hand when that happens to restore the browser's old functionality.

Closing Words

Firefox users who do not like (some of) the changes that Australis introduces will likely install this add-on or a comparable add-on after their browser is upgraded to the new interface design. You can be sure that I'll keep you in the loop here and post an update as soon as the author releases the extension to the public. (via Sören)

Update: The Classic Theme Restore add-on has been released.


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. growl said on November 16, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Doesn’t work for me, so I’m stuck with my Firefox 18 unless you (or someone else) can give me some hints or rescue me! I am a visual-spatial thinker (classified as gifted visual-spatial) and I get confused with things that are moved around and look different.

    The classic theme and other attempts didn’t work for me (I tried it on an ancillary computer). I like the

    menu bar (not the orange tab) at the top.
    I use the square Icons and text,
    have the URL bar and the google search bar side by side below the buttons and above
    my bookmarks/toolbar items (which I use for my actions–an intricate form of the MS 8 (which I also can’t use) Tile system).

    I sync into several computers to insure that is comfortable and I don’t feel brain spazzed.

    I would love to update to a newer edition of Firefox, but I need to have my setup as it works for me. I don’t get why these programs (Firefox and MS) change their interfaces drastically, instead of giving use choices. I’m not a computer programmer, so getting it back to how I want it is near impossible.

    If anyone can help me find a way to change it, I’d really appreciate it.


    1. clas said on November 16, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      hey growl, i appreciate what you are saying. i too have not moved up and was with ff18 till last month. have since moved to ff20.0.1 and all works the same for me there. i have a couple paid programs that will not work on newer ff versions without me paying again plus i like the familiar also. change for the sake of change does not impress me and taking away options that so many really like is just wrong to me. but all works very well in ff20 and i have zero issues. win7hpr. and always sandboxed.

  2. Mikhoul said on November 16, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Will keep latest FF release without Australis for as long as I can And probably begin to switch to Cyberfox in progressively at the end of Summer 2014.

    From a Forum posted Yesterday about Cyberfox ————>

    “Ron, here are the extensions I have installed in Cyberfox, just about all work as expected. Plugins are limited to Flash, Java, and Silverlight.

    about:addons Launcher 1.1
    Adblock Plus 2.4
    Adblock Plus Pop-up Addon 0.9.1
    Add Bookmark Here ² 23.0.20130728
    Add to Search Bar 2.1
    Add-on Compatibility Reporter 2.0.1
    Add-on Update Checker 2.2beta1
    Anti-Aliasing Tuner
    Automatic Save Folder 1.0.4
    Back/forward dropmarker 1.0
    Backward/Forward History Dropdown 0.2.4
    BetterPrivacy 1.68
    Clean And Close 2.5.1
    ColorfulTabs 21.0 [DISABLED]
    Download Manager Tweak 0.9.8
    Download Statusbar 0.9.10
    DownloadHelper 4.9.21
    DSLR Notifier 2 3.2.11
    Element Hiding Helper for Adblock Plus 1.2.3
    Extension Options Menu 2.7
    FfChrome 2.3
    FireFTP 2.0.16
    Flashblock 1.5.17
    FocusSearchTab 1.0
    Forecastfox 2.2.2
    Greasemonkey 1.12
    HTTPS-Everywhere 4.0development.13 [DISABLED]
    IE Tab 2 (FF 3.6+)
    Image Zoom 0.6.3
    LastPass 2.0.20
    LCD Clock 0.4.2
    LogMeIn, Inc. Remote Access Plugin
    MR Tech Toolkit
    Nightly Tester Tools 3.6
    Open With 5.3.1
    Organize Search Engines 1.7
    Organize Status Bar 0.6.5
    Plain Text Links 1.0.1
    Print Edit 10.2
    Restart Firefox 0.5
    Shumway 0.7.501
    Speed Dial
    Status-4-Evar 2013.02.16.23
    Tab Mix Plus
    Tab Progress Bar 0.6
    TabGroups Menu 0.9.1 [DISABLED]
    Test Pilot 1.2.2
    Text Link 4.1.2013040601
    TinEye Reverse Image Search 1.1
    Toggle Word Wrap 1.9
    Toolbar Buttons 1.0
    User Agent Switcher 0.7.3
    WOT 20131008
    X-notifier 3.3.6 “

  3. Don Gateley said on October 21, 2013 at 4:13 am

    I’ve come around to somewhat appreciating the Mozilla point of view. They really would prefer to not be in the business of its look-and-feel. There is core functionality that is far more important yet I’ll bet the amount of time given to internal debate on look-and-feel is out of hand and the time spent working on it is probably even more disproportionate.

    It’s come to make sense to me that, having placed the hooks there for add-on designers to take that part of it on, they would serve us better by focusing on core functionality and outsourcing all the fluff into the community where developers can compete with each other for our affection. With the visibility that add-on developers have it’s likely to be done better and more responsively as well. It’s already clear that external look-and-feel add-on development is going to happen, as this article demonstrates, and perhaps that’s just where it belongs. So long as a user can easily control it and not lose anything does it really matter to him whether it’s built in intrinsically or developed as an add-on? I’ve come to think not. Rather it seems to me to be a reasonable functional decomposition.

    1. Orhin said on October 21, 2013 at 8:11 am

      Mozilla’s concept was never that one of a Barebone Browser. What made Firefox stand out of the Crowd was the massive Customizability.

      Seen from the technological point of view, Firefox is way behind Chromium, and now where Opera made the switch to Blink, it is also behind Opera in terms of standard support like CSS3 or HTML5 Features. Gecko is an old engine with lots of pasts code and in many parts unable to compete with the competition. So why should removing the one thing wich makes Firefox stand over the crowd now be the right thing? That move will hurt Mozilla for sure.

      Would have made more sense to see that movement happen when they are using Servo. New engine = new usability concept.

      All that changes now do cost money and time, with forcing that changes also on Gecko when there is already worked on Servo which will feature for sure a similiar attempt – that makes no sense. Seems like Mozilla uses Gecko as a testbed to see how to implement minimalism into Xulrunner applications to pull the stuff then later over to Servo.

      But seriously… forcing it on an engine which clearly has no future anymore? But Mozilla failed in so many attempts to deliver a sane logic, that that move here just falls down the road exactly like so many other dumb decision which have happened before.

    2. Orhin said on October 21, 2013 at 7:54 am

      But do not forget that Basic Customization inside a program is a Core Functionality. Even the most tiniest program allowes to be customized out of the box.

      To have UI Elements rearranged should have been never put in hands of add-on developers.

      Stuff like Panorama, it goes beyond Core functionality/Core Customizability. But ripping even Functions out to rearrange UI Elements like the user wants to have them (for example UI Field and Seperated Buttons in the Tab Bar) – This is a big step downwards to a Barebone Browser.

      And we already have Chrome/Chromium which offers exactly that. No need for Firefox to go down the road, sadly Mozilla’s wish is to be so similiar to Chrome as possible.

      There are for sure many viewpoints. Mine is a Browser without Basic Customization options inside will not be used anymore, because there is already Chromium with that limited way of functions and it has add-ons too.

      That way Mozilla drives away parts of their userbase, for sure not that much, but it will not make Firefox climb the market share ranks higher!

  4. L.M. Morganetti said on October 20, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    I’ve enjoyed reading the comments more than the article. The two that really stuck out to me are:

    1) why use a Chrome look-alike when you can just use Chrome?
    2) why do FF users have to use an add-on to make “Firefox look like Firefox”?

    I’m glad I switched to Pale Moon a long time ago. Of course, if you are adverse to that (I wouldn’t know why though) a FF user can just stick with the ESR (currently version 24) for as long as that will last before it (i.e., the current ESR) also switches to Australis.

  5. Outraged said on October 12, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    I have a Mac, so this add-on for Windows to bring back addonbar won’t help me out ! Besides, since FF24 I’m already PISSED OFF with that horrifying metal bar just under title-bar, that used to be black, or at least since I customised FF with a.o. Lavabit (Black&Blue) theme. I have browser on top of a wallpaper of Lavabit as well. So in a black enveirement this fat metal look of titlebar+bar underneath is extremely ugly for it’s domenancy.

    I would pay money to have it back in black or better, have it completely disappear. I understand – from other critics and comments on Mozilla’s forum- it’s impossible to change this. Does anyone know what this ‘useless small bar’ under titlebar is for anyway ?

    And really … could Mozilla not think of 5 good reasons ( I have ) to have add-on bar , I have not come across in critics I found :

    * It gives browser’s window a firm FULL-SQUARED BODY to contrast/seperate with what’s happening in/outside/underneath opened windows. Imagine a painting/poster/drawing on the wall with just 3 parts of framing, underneath no real border to seperate from wall(clutter)

    * To have 3 flags with CLOCKS as a student following international e-courses/classes/deadlines and OS-menubar already ’cluttered enough with technical stuff a.o. ’ / distractive/ full , SO MENUBAR is HIDEN (incl.time) when not approached/needed.

    * Have current NoScript’s information always in eyesight … so not in one of the top-bars that I want/have obscured and highlighted when approached/needed.

    * Needing all the free space left in add-on bar to be filled with a translated sentence by Gesture Translate

    * I spent a F****** 8 hours customizing FF and OS -integrated sort of use that I’m now used to, and Mozilla doesn’t give a F*** since FF24 it’s messing around with my theme and will in the near future knowing Add-onbar will disappear and do more …

    Leaving me with another question: What will happen to the usability of Bookmarkbar, that I don’t use for bookmarks, but is filled with PrefBar-buttons, many of which that I use all the time intensively?

  6. Jeannie said on October 9, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    That’s it, I’m done with Firefox. I will not use this metrofied chrome clone. switched to seamonkey already, works file for me, not looking back or forward to Firefox and Australis.
    These moder ui/ux specialist should stick to designing touch screen remote controls for toasters instead of ruining more and more user interfaces.

  7. Don Gateley said on September 15, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Mozilla is clearly on a suicide run. If I wanted Chrome I’d use Chrome.

    Actually, with all that Mozilla is doing to kill FF the absolutely only reason I stay is the Session Manager add-on. If as powerful an equivalent were to be added to Chrome (the Session Manager author looked at it and said that it isn’t possible with what Chrome exposes on their add on API) I’d switch in a heartbeat.

    They are really crazy making us jump through all these hoops and add-ons to maintain a consistent and familiar experience. What’s wrong with Mozilla? Rather than fix all the bugs they keep re-designing it to add new ones and piss off their existing user base. Stop, already, and go no further until the bug list is cleared. This could be because Mozilla is not a managed company. It’s an anarchic hacker collective. Everybody does just what they want to and nothing more or less. Chaos ensues.

    1. Orhin said on September 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      Well, that Add-on works also under Palemoon and Cyberfox, so if this is your only reason to stay with Firefox, you can gladly switch Browsers ;)

      That is exactly what i am already saying and thinking since a VERY long time – Mozilla is a chaotic organization. The one end has NO CLUE what the other end is doing! Inserting Features, crippling them a bit later or removing them altogether…..

      Years Earlier it was WAY clearer on which side of the end Mozilla was standing.. Innovation and Customization! Today… This side still does exist, but gets beaten to the ground constantly by the Design and Special Gimmick without seriously usage fraction.

      They should finally REALLY decide on which end they are standing. Customization or Design and minimalistic way of Developing…

      But constantly crippling the Browser without seriously delivering one of the 2 sides just sucks bigtime. They want to make a Chrome look and work-a-like without really being able to deliver raw Performance and State of the Art Website rendering ability is just plain Wrong!

      1. Don Gateley said on September 15, 2013 at 9:03 pm

        Thanks for the Palemoon and Cyberfox tips. I was unaware of these add-on compatible alternatives.

  8. XenoSilvano said on September 6, 2013 at 6:37 pm


    I’m certainly going to got this.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on September 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      Do not know a single Firefox user who does not.

      1. Jeannie said on October 9, 2013 at 7:17 pm

        I will not get this, Firefox has been removed from my all systems and will stay removed.

  9. mma173 said on September 6, 2013 at 11:03 am

    The direction they are heading will hurt Mozilla as a whole, not just Firefox. They seem to be doing it on purpose just like Microsoft.

  10. Jang Dong Gun said on September 4, 2013 at 5:16 pm
    1. Orhin said on September 4, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      That already was mentioned in the article if you take a look ;)

  11. Ken Saunders said on September 4, 2013 at 4:53 am

    Add-on developers stepping up to restore former features and functionality. Just like I said would happen a few months ago and has always been the case. At least as long as I’ve been using Firefox and that’s been since 1.0.

    If you have a problem with using add-ons, find a browser that doesn’t offer them.

    1. trlkly said on October 5, 2013 at 4:50 am

      Who the hell said it wouldn’t happen? That’s not the problem. The problem is the change in focus. They don’t like something, so it goes away. It’s not because it’s not used, as they themselves admit. They have decided that they get to tell us how we can use their browser. They are deliberately removing customization options while putting out doublespeak about how they are adding them, when all they are doing is making it easier for people to find the customization dialog–a dialog they are intentionally crippling.

      It’s even in all the discussion about it. Some dev says that the addon bar makes addons feel like secondary citizens of the browser. Despite the fact that the addon developers themselves choose to use it. They obviously don’t feel like secondary citizens. You know what does make them feel that way? When they ask repeatedly for things not to be changed, and are ignored. When they get shoved off into a secondary drop down if the user has any significant number of addons. That makes them feel like secondary citizens.

      And yet that dev is pretty much the only one who gave an argument other than “I don’t like it” or “I think it looks bad.”

      I honestly wonder if you are one of the devs yourself, with you so completely missing the point.

    2. Orhin said on September 4, 2013 at 12:16 pm

      I have no Problem with add-ons – but with what i have a problem is that Mozilla removes all out of the Browser which is not Chrome like.

      Being forced to restore Basic Customization with Add-ons is a second class solution, and i do not Support Second Class Solutions.

      Add-ons are there for Features which are not useful to have inside the Browser. Basic Customization IS useful!

      And Basic Customization was for me always the Big Point of Firefox. Now with being forced to restore all stuff with add-ons there is no Point in using Firefox anymore for me, because it is no more Special compared to other Browsers.

      Which reduces the Value of Firefox with Australis to a Level less then Zero for me!

      So i will not update anymore, turn off Java, Flash and Javascript and stay with Firefox 22 as my Main Browser while relying on Palemoon/Cyberfox or Midori as Secondary Browsers!

  12. imu said on September 3, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Mozilla should check how many folks make use of this add-on cos that number will suggest user-happiness about what is going on with Firefox.

  13. Orhin said on September 2, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Very nice to see such an add-on upcoming – But why should i now be forced to restore all customization now with an add-on!

    I am at least happy thap Palemoon or Cyberfox do not plan to follow this Monstrosity!

    Said it already and i say it again: I refuse to get a Chrome look-alike and work-alike Browser on my Systems, No Mozilla, No “Google” for me :)

  14. clas said on September 2, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    yep, no reason for me to upgrade anymore in firefox. i have reached the plateau where i like everything and each upgrade takes away from that. from here on its for the “kids”….change just for the sake of change is microsofts area anyway.

  15. Aram said on September 2, 2013 at 12:01 am

    Also thank you for posting the above.

    I agree with BArnassey (10:10 pm) that lately Mozilla’s design and UX philosophy seems to be design for the lowest common denominator and mimic Google Chrome and or Opera features.

    I appreciate the add-on and yes kudos of course. However, it is still Australis and Australis looks like “Firefox for Kidz” to me. I still would like to keep using my favorite full theme.

  16. firefoxlover said on September 1, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Thanks for posting the above although I already knew about the upcoming extension and had already bookmarked Aris’ blog. Without that extension I would probably leave Firefox after having used it since 2004 (version 1) as my default browser. I will be eternally grateful to Aris if the extension will pan out as intended.

    I already had to add 2 extensions lately in Firefox due to taking away *useless* stuff. :(

    Not sure if Pale Moon will introduce Australis. If not I may use Pale Moon as the default browser.

    1. L.M. Morganetti said on October 20, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      No, Pale Moon will not introduce Australis. See here:

    2. Orhin said on September 2, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      Choose Palemoon or Cyberfox, both plan to be Austrails free :)

  17. yoav said on September 1, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Mozilla should just relinquish the Firefox browser to a group of developrs that actually likes it. They can join the chrome team and help google with its development…

    1. BArnassey said on September 1, 2013 at 10:10 pm

      I have to agree everything they have been doing (integrating social media features anyone?) Has been anti power user and attempting to pander to the lowest common denominator. I dislike it an am glad of the fact waterfox and pale moon will now bow to those levels.

      1. Seafarer said on December 27, 2013 at 12:05 am

        Sixty year old that shares nothing with anyone so social media doesn’t apply. However, I refuse to use any browser that lacks a choice of whether or not to view the menu bar (Chrome?). It’s rhetorical but, what could possibly be so life-changing critical in the upper 13mm of my screen as to take away one of my most used functions? No choice? My eyeballs will not see Chrome’s advertising and I let their sponsors know it!

      2. Jay said on October 31, 2013 at 3:30 am

        @Lumpy Gravy: Are you honestly claiming that one cannot be a power user if one doesn’t know the complete innards of the OS one is using? Can you tell me just how many end users who love and use Linux (a number every Linux lover wants to see increase) actually tinker with its source?

      3. Orhin said on September 2, 2013 at 10:24 pm

        Well, for Linux.. how about Seamonkey. This should serve best for Power User ways to go :)

      4. Lumpy Gravy said on September 2, 2013 at 3:32 pm

        The trend towards populist, increasingly dumbed-down software and the removal of useful options has been with us for over a decade. And it’s getting worse. I also suspect there’s more to this than “user friendliness” or “simplification”. Deliberately crippling configuration options reduces people’s freedom to use software the way they prefer it and increases the control of vendors, network operators, advertisers etc., who all want to keep tabs on users.

        But are you seriously recommending Waterfox and Pale Moon? Both are Windows-only and on the Waterfox website they can’t even be bothered to tell you about this serious limitation. MS Windows is a closed and partially undocumented proprietary operating system that simply cannot be trusted to work in the user’s best interest. How does recommending such pap make you a “power user”?

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.