Mozilla decides to hide Compact Mode in Firefox for new users but keep it for existing ones
If you follow Firefox web browser news you may have read some time ago that Mozilla planned to remove the browser's compact mode from the customization options. Compact Mode is one of Firefox's three density modes for its main interface; it is the smallest layout option and leaves most room for webpages displayed in the browser. The other two modes, normal, which is the default, and touch, which is for touch-capable devices, display a bigger interface.
Mozilla's original plan was to remove the Compact Mode option from the browser's customize menu. You may access the customize option by selecting Main Menu > Customize. The reason that Mozilla gave for the removal was that the option was "hard to discover" and that it believed that "it got low engagement".
The reasoning did not sit well with Firefox users, many of which were using Compact Mode in the browser. A new bug on Mozilla's bug tracking site reveals Mozilla's plan for Compact Mode in Firefox.
According to the listing, Compact Mode remains enabled for Firefox users who are using it. The mode remains available in the customize menu for those users. Firefox users who have not set it won't see it in the customize menu anymore, but they may reactivate it through a "hidden" about:config setting.
The preference browser.compactmode.show determines whether the Compact option is shown under Density in the customize menu. Set the preference to TRUE to show the compact density option, or keep it at the default FALSE to hide it from the menu.
It is unclear whether setting browser.uidensity to 1 will enable compact mode without showing it in the customize option, but it looks that way as the preference is the one that Firefox users to determine the set density.
If you compare the new decision to the old plan, you will notice the following;
- Compact Mode is still moved to about:config as a hidden option.
- The main change is that the mode remains enabled for users who have it set. In the previous plan, these users would be moved to the default density automatically.
Mozilla plans to make it clear that Compact Mode is unsupported by adding (not supported) to the string in the customize menu.
The decision feels shortsighted, especially since it angered Firefox users who are using Compact Mode and prefer it over the other modes, especially with Proton coming along soon and making everything bigger. Removing features, regardless of how few users are using them, is always going to infuriate some users. If you do it too often, you are frustrating more and more users of the browser.
Mozilla could have reversed the decision, maintain the mode, and display a customize prompt to new users that would allow them to set compact mode among several other options on first run.
Now You: what is your take on all of this?
This is just a step to removing it altogether, make it even harder to discover and then cite low engagement when they CBA to write the code for it any more.
Compact Proton uses almost the same space as normal Quantum. So people using compact Quantum will be angry. And people who are fine with normal Quantum, by the time they are updated to normal Proton and notice that it wastes much more space, the compact option will have been hidden. Most probably they won’t know about browser.compactmode.show nor browser.uidensity, so they will also be angry.
I don’t get it, Mozilla seems to be deliberately trying to reduce their market share even further? It’s sad, because Gecko is my preferred web engine, I don’t want Firefox to die.
Jesus H. Christ. It’s like reading an article about GNOME. “I, like, don’t like this thing it looks like fugly to me omg so imma just delete the code lulzorz hehehe”
Yeah, except I vote for Gnome itself to be deleted.
Some distro’s choices are purely head in the sand ego; Kubuntu’s file manager not being able to be used as root to “protect” users? Really? Takes about five minutes to find and install a file manager that works right.
Tiny world Linux. No, tiny world “Tech.”
Tone-deaf as usual. Mozilla’s response to this issue is symptomatic of their arrogant, West-Coast hipster approach to life: our way or the highway. Who needs a loyal userbase when we have inclusion and diversity officers by the dozens?
Well said. I do wonder what the average profile of a Mozilla engineer looks like these days.
My comment seems to have been eaten but “well said” was the gist of it.
Welcome to software development of last 10 or so years, where developers never bend over demands and even when they pretend they do, they always have “the last word”. It’s a world where opinions of users regarding software features doesn’t matter but what is important is what developers think is an “exciting” “experience”. Don’t forget about telemetry or other means of chugging users data while screaming “your privacy is valuable for us” which you can’t turn or have difficulty of turning off. And of course there’s also the cherry on the top – praising codes of conduct that place personal life aspects like sexuality over work related stuff.
It’s a shit show.
Seeing what happens in Mozilla over last years I’m darn sure that within its structure there are people whose sole purpose is to destroy Firefox from inside by taking such “controversial” decisions.
>Seeing what happens in Mozilla over last years Iâ€™m darn sure that within its structure there are people whose sole purpose is to destroy Firefox from inside by taking such â€œcontroversialâ€ decisions.
I don’t think you need the element subterfuge to square this circle. This is what CoCs and the kind of ideologies that spawn them do, almost by design. The CoC movement is inherently, self-admittedly anti-meritocratic: poor decisions are exactly what you’d expect to see come out of it.
If you get into real esoteric lore hours and study the grounding of CoCs in critical theory, it gets rather deep and a lot more pernicious very quickly. The intent of critical theory, as stated by several of its major theorists during the first half of the 20th century, was to destroy western civilisation as it has traditionally existed. Now, I don’t think CoCs are literally achieving that end, but it’s easy to see how the thought processes from which they derive could do major, perhaps terminal, damage when entertained at civilisational scale (and probably are already!).
As long as the sweet Google money is flowing and as they are needed by Google for not being a monopol, they will just muck around the user interface.
The Gecko engine is dead by now, as they already have fired almost all engine developers.
What idiots. The day I lose Compact Mode will be the when I uninstall Firefox and replace it with Edge Chromium.
Gecko is not dead. It’s indeed worrying that important engine developers like dbaron or heycam no longer work at Mozilla, but some still remain, like emilio or mats.
Users: No, don’t change this.
Mozilla: In terms of fucks, we give no fucks.
Stuff like this makes me want to switch back to Chrome….ungoogled, of course. But I’ve given Firefox a chance for awhile, while OK in most aspects, the above mentioned developer arrogance coupled with declining market share tells me Mozilla’s future looks kind of bleak right now.
What eventually happens with Chrome Manifest V3 will be a deal breaker for me as to whether I switch.
I get what you’re saying but Ungoogled Chromium, if that’s what you mean, is miserable as a daily browser unless you allow access to the Google Store Thing to install extensions that make it work like a regular browser. It’s so ungoogled, it’s not a huge step from using a CLI browser.
The only thing I was able to do with it is use AdGuard’s system level app outside the browser to block the residual junk and webRTC, which can’t be disabled in Chromium. For a search engine, you have to set your home page to DDG, Qwant, etc. or make shortcut.
Actually, AdGuard blocks so much stuff, extension use in Chromia isn’t a privacy problem. Just adds complication.
You could try woolyss chromium, it’s decent still, used to be the best until Google locked in WebRTC in 2018.
It depends how hard you want to go on the privacy side of the privacy-convenience spectrum, really. It’s not too hard to acquire the CRX files for extensions if you’re dead set on avoiding Google in your daily driver. I’m willing to tolerate quite a bit to avoid having Google in my life but YMMV and your story was still interesting.
Even more reason not to use Firefox anymore. What if I reinstall my OS I want compact mode? I’m switching over to Edge. Firefox is dead to me.
“Removing features, regardless of how few users are using them, is always going to infuriate some users. If you do it too often, you are frustrating more and more users of the browser.”
But dedicated users will still use the browser; Google has infuriated users endlessly; however, it apparently increases their user base.
It’s not like FF has enough of a user base to infuriate:
I use it; I like it; but the curious thing about human beings is their innate ability to adapt to the changing environment over which they have no control. If they don’t adapt, then they must move to a different environment. Or die.
Hem and haw–“Who Moved My Cheese.”
That book was prescient. Great for today’s “My brain is my phone, it tells me what to do, I have no patience, don’t bother because words are meaningless” because it’s short and has mice and cheese.
Sadly, I doubt most people today could sit through its few pages or understand what it even means. Satire’s too complicated for phone culture; allegory causes seizures.
Used to be adversity made one stronger. Today, adversity makes one tweetstorm.
Left Firefox a long time ago. Mozilla never has been known for listening to what their fan boys have to say. Yet, people stay with them. I am solidly in the Chromium camp now.
I do not use Compact mode but out of curiosity I went to customize to play with it.
Certainly it gives you a bit more space but at the price of having to be more precise when clicking icons on the menu bar. So, for me, it depends. Regardless, I added browser.compactmode.show just in case Proton mess things up and Compact comes to save the fox.
> Compact mode but
Certainly it gives you a bit more space but at the price of having to be more precise when clicking icons on the menu bar.
(I’m using Compact density mode.) Indeed, many users have also mentioned similar complaints about Compact density mode.
A calm and objective analysis shows that the demand for Compact density mode is indeed low (not only do they not know of its existence, but they seem to be satisfied with Normal density mode).
For users who use it, its “Abolish” declaration was a shock, but the good news is that it will not be completely abolish, but will continue to be available to existing users (or in hidden settings).
Vivaldi Browser has declared (on the official Vivaldi user forum) that they will never remove features, and continuing to add niche features, and it is no surprise that this has led to “an accumulation of bugs and continued degradation of browser performance”.
Everyone is happy that their favorite features add, but angry that they remove.
I can see a difference in policy decisions between browser vendors, whether it is better to “meet niche demand” or to “remove niche features based on the convenience of the majority”.
The right to decide lies with the vendor, and the right to choose lies with the user.
If you want to categorically reject it as “unacceptable”, then use something else (but it’s only a mere “URL bar height and density” choice).
I found the “Firefox developers’ intentions” to be reasonable.
In many cases, “removing something” rather than “adding something” can be a better way to solve a problem. For example, in some European cities, the “Shared Space” approach of removing traffic lights and road signs has been adopted to improve road safety, which is the opposite of traditional traffic design.
Shared space | Wikipedia
Adding is favoured over subtracting in problem solving | nature
Our Brain Typically Overlooks This Brilliant Problem-Solving Strategy | Scientific American
It’s clear that companies and organizations tend to complicate (add elements) rather than simplify (remove elements) when solving problems, because people tend to appreciate solutions that complicate things, explains Tom Mavis, a consumer psychologist at New York University.
Anyone knows how to turn off these ugly tabs? I want them to look like the old ones. Mozilla developers please understand not everyone is blind and not using a freaking tablet on a 1440p monitor. I don’t need them looking like bubbles!
You can (still) style Firefox the way you want with userChrome.css and userContent.css.
There is e.g. this project you might consider using:
Read his instructions very carefully.
In his next release there will also be a fix for the new ugly interface. :)
How I made it look like in Firefox 87:
Wow, that’s some old-school interface… :)
Dark mode and compact:
Man, this is cool!
Good logic there Mozilla: “Hmm, this feature is hard to discover. Let’s bury it in about:config so it’s impossible to discover. That’s much better.”
I also don’t understand their “hard to discover” argument in the first place. It’s right there in the customize page, no more or less discoverable than the other density options.
Switching to Edge or Chrome is not the answer, since the user chrome in them is almost as large as Firefox’s “normal” mode. Brave is somewhere in between – larger than Firefox “compact” mode, but smaller than Edge or Chrome.
> Switching to Edge or Chrome is not the answer, since the user chrome in them is almost as large as Firefoxâ€™s â€œnormalâ€ mode. Brave is somewhere in between â€“ larger than Firefox â€œcompactâ€ mode, but smaller than Edge or Chrome.
Your observation is correct.
I used Vivaldi-Browser (since early release) until last May, and now use Firefox ESR as my primary browser and Brave-Browser (since the beginning of release) for sub-usages.
The “Firefox URL bar height and density”, which is an issue in our gHacks community, actually has more options than Chromium’s browser, and Firefox’s normal density mode is “as compact as Chromium or more compact”.
Many of the commentators bashing Firefox’s “Compact density mode” are people who “don’t currently use Firefox” based on their previous posts in the gHacks community.
It’s just a “Hate and loathing” to justify their preferences (what they have chosen or eliminated from their choices). Those who are not actual users of Firefox should be careful about “to blame” Firefox without knowing (or researching) the actual situation.
Fire fox’s main draw was it’s ability to be modifyed and customized according to the needs of each individual. Locking down that level of flexibility is tantamount to deliberately sabotaging their product and in turn, their business. I really hope there are some people out there who are ready to pick up the gauntlet and save us from conformity and slavery to observation for profit and fun.
this is dumb…nuff said.
The compact-mode option was “hard to discover” which means, IMO, that it won’t e much harder to set it in about:config.
What puzzles me nevertheless is the pertinence of removing it from the customization options (for those who don’t use among which new users consequently) yet keeping it available in about:config (hidden), given the code remains, will be processed accordingly and lead to the wonder why a move which may appar as an extra layer of confusion rather than clarity.
Personally I’ve never changed the default ‘Density’ value (Default) in the customization options, peferring tailored dimensions via the userChrome.css within the user’s profile.
What new users?
Firefox is losing more users than getting new users.
And Mozilla disrespects the Firefox users and is removing more and more handy features that users want.
Years from now some ex-Mozilla insiders may write artciles or a book that explains the immense stupidity that is going on with Mozilla these last years.
Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome are no good alternative as they collect your private data. Avoid them.
Use Ungoogled Chromium or Brave when Mozilla finally goes too far for you.
The tech world has gone bonkers.
They copy Apple nonsense by getting rid of replaceble batteries and ports.
Now Apple is even shipping phones that costs more than $1000 and you will not get a charger or earplugs. Other companies are copying them.
Most big 17 inch laptops do not have replaceble batteries and some not even a ethernet port.
Phones are so long they do not fit in your pocket. They have screens with camera holes and round corners that take away chunks of the apps screen. Imagine how we used to complain if the screen had a few defect pixels!
More and more software is now made as a large and slow webapp with alot of wasted space in the UI. Scrollbars and other UI elements are made invisible until you move the mouse over them or removed.
All of this reduces users productivity and increases their stress.
I wonder when we will hit rockbottom and what it will look like.
Well, it’s only $16 a month more.
Most tech things are commodities; paying more than you have to for a commodity is crummy investing.
Plenty of people make monthly phone and other junk payments equal to a car payment. Apple, et.al. get credit for mass brainwashing for sure.
Rock bottom looks like Gnome. Think leaders now are bad? At least they know how to be evil; when phone culture really gets into power with no useable skills whatsoever beside abject selfishness, we’re there!
Does anybody remember years ago how Netscape kept ignoring the wishes of its end users and arrogantly doing things that upset them? Remember how Firefox came along and displaced Netscape?
Seems to me like it’s time for that same kind of thing to happen to Firefox. And remember, Firefox is open source software.
Ah, here we go again: Making changes no one wants while continuing to ignore bugs that were reported over a decade ago. Sounds like Google or Microsoft, but no, it’s Mozilla again.
This makes as much sense as Mozilla’s recent decision to change the keyboard shortcut for the Bookmarks Library from Ctrl+Shift+B to Ctrl+Shift+O without offering any way for the user to change it back.
Great job, idiots.
Here’s how this will go (based on Mozilla’s past history):
In the not-too-distant future, Mozilla will remove compact mode claiming it is “too hard to support” and that “not enough people are using it” (after Mozilla intentionally hid it).
Then the losers who made these awful decisions will move onto other jobs (or get fired), and a new crop of egocentric “gonna leave my mark on a big project” losers will get hired by the ignorant management.
That new crop will come up with this amazing new idea: “Let’s reduce that wasted empty space on the screen, and come up with a name we think is real clever for the redesign! How about we call it Neutron, because it’s da bomb!”. Then, suddenly, the new design will not be “too hard to support” and they won’t worry about “not enough people are using it”. They will just force it on everyone as the great “new and improved”.
It’s not like this sort of thing hasn’t happened multiple times already. Remember when you could easily change the width of a tab in Firefox? Then their developers made up the ridiculous story that it was “too hard to support”, and “Poof!” it was gone. Eventually, you guessed it, someone rolled in and reinvented the wheel by adding an amazing new preference to change the width of a tab.
Mozilla’s story will make a great book someday: “The 10 Best Ways to Annoy Your Userbase”. Step 1: Stroke your own ego and do whatever you want while making up fictional stories about how hard it is to do what your users actually want.
It really makes you wonder if some of their employees and management are “on the take” from the competition with the goal of destroying Firefox from the inside.
What new in “Tech?”
This is justify your existence, all we’ll probably ever see with the current crop of companies. Make up a problem, solve it, get points for doing something, move to next week’s problem, reverse the original solution, repeat forever.
Mozilla’s only a pony on the big merry-go-round.
-Bob and George
This is beyond ridiculous. This is a feature that does not occupy any space and it actually helps people make Firefox feel like their browser.
It seems that Firefox devs are succumbing to the arrogance of other dev teams that think they know better than users.
One of Firefox’s strengths is that it’s customizable. If they take that away I’ll just move to another browser. Either Edge or Brave.
I’m just glad that Vivaldi pays at least some attention to what its users want in a browser. You know, like Mozilla did a decade ago–back when Mozilla mattered.
I just hope ten years from now I’ll be able to run Vivaldi on LMDE and still be happy about it.
Firefox was only brought into existence in order to destroy Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Internet Explorer had to be destroyed because it gave users too much control and too much freedom. Firefox’s plan was to give users even more freedom and control than Internet Explorer. But now that Internet Explorer is out of the way, they don’t have to anymore.
The mission has been accomplished, so there’s no point in Firefox anymore. Firefox can now be shut down to make way for Google’s tightly controlled monopoly, where user control over the browser will be gradually reduced to the point where a computer becomes no different to a television.
Eventually, they will eliminate the url bar completely and you will only be able to navigate to websites via Google search results, which will devolve to become increasingly restricted and limited to only websites run by Google’s own friends.
The same thing will happen to Linux if Microsoft were to go bankrupt, because Linux only exists in order to undermine Microsoft Windows.
Linux will gradually get restricted and shut down and Linux users will be encouraged to switch over to Google’s tightly controlled and restricted OS.
“According to the listing, Compact Mode remains enabled for Firefox users who are using it. The mode remains available in the customize menu for those users. Firefox users who have not set it won’t see it in the customize menu anymore, but they may reactivate it through a “hidden” about:config setting”
That’s what they do for important features too when they want to kill them. Soon it will just be fully removed, but they silenced some of the opposition by doing it more slowly. And those who will still complain will be received with “just use the hidden about:config pref and a browser version that still has about:config access” and when replying that this is a first step for full removal, “Mozilla Corporation has not stated this anywhere officially, removed for conspiracy theory”.
When you have the upper-hand in a domain of discourse, doublespeak is brutally effective. Like in your case: do the thing but then silence anyone calling you out for doing the thing and say that the idea of you doing the thing is a wild conspiracy theory, right before you do the thing again. I’m pretty bored of seeing this behaviour so frequently in all areas of life nowadays.
If I understand the code, setting browser.uidensity to 1 should enable compact mode, and set the browser.compactmode.show pref the next time you enter the customize screen with it setâ€¦
Stupid. Make it even smaller, it’s perfectly legible even on a laptop 4k screen. I like screen real estate. Before web extensions, you could easily shrink the bars and tabs smaller than their text; like, too small.
But….on a not-so-hot screen, some themes are super blurry, pixelated, aliased, text not visible, etc. Dark themes and those with subtle color changes suffer the most.
Sort of like IE became when MS brilliantly decided to make it display well on portrait mode screens, too. Then ran away.
As long as compact can be activated in about:config, doesn’t matter to me. I have no use at all for Chromia’s or Chredge’s giagantic everythings.
OMG there is SO much color… where is the gray on gray? It’s blinding me! Oh, it hurts, it hurts! Please stop!
I’m running Nightly (89.0a1 (2021-04-09)) and indeed setting browser.uidensity=1 switches to a compact layout.
I like this new ui. It’s fresh and all, especially the prompt/dialog windows (except the save file dialog window is still the same as before). But it’s too bad that they remove features. They changed the “copy link loc(A)tion” shortcut to “copy (L)ink” and now this? Let’s just hope they don’t remove the [browser.uidensity] and [browser.compactmode.show] options from about:config page.
You are rather optimistic if you don’t think that Mozilla added ‘non-supported’ for something that they don’t have every intention of removing as soon as they can.
afaik you can still alter the css chrome file, which i will be doing in addition to enabling ‘compact density’
isn’t there a fork of firefox? lol
ppl do ‘sell out’, in fact everybody does, except for those who pass things on to their children
. also, people are vultured or arm twisted, like the mafia, or ccp; sell out or else; maybe for a good price or inflated price even… like google could ‘buy’ ppl in firefox dev to sabatoge it, thus making chrome look better, theoretically of course
I still don’t understand how to enable the compact setting. For those of us who aren’t that computer literate, could you please include clear steps in this article. Thank you.
Type “about:config” in the address bar and hit [Enter] ? type “browser.compactmode.show” in the search bar at the top of the screen ? Click the ? symbol on the right to toggle the setting from “false” to “true” ? Right Click on one of the symbols to the left or right of the address bar, like the ? or ? or ? and select “Customize Toolbar…” ? At the bottom of the screen there should be an option for “Density ?” ? Select “Compact (not supported)
Easier to switch browsers.
we are on the same boat. lucky for me, I read 2 other articles/sites and kinda get to know about:config and then I just type “compact” in the search bar and what he mentioned appeared as explained by Texas. Now I am sticking with Firefox.
Thank you so much ghacks and God bless,
Thank you for this explanation; developers fscking with the UI and not leaving the option to keep things looking more or less like they were in previous versions is one of THE most malignant cancers on web/browser/OS design in general.
They are not really developers behind this, it’s “experience designers” and “human centric design” and lots of “Apple inspired” people with no actual value to contribute. Developers are forced to implement their vapid infatuations.
even in normal mode they make bars bigger so now youtube displays video smaller in a normal 15 inch laptop. I don’t have money to buy a bigger monitor. I think this is the same for more than half of the people.
I never thought I would say it, but I am switching to Edge. I don’t want so much screen space going to a Browser.
Well I managed the compact mode, thanks to instructions, but it wasn’t easy. Now if I could just restore a ‘close tab’ function back to the left side of the screen like I was used to for years and years, I’d be happy. HATE being forced to close tab on the right side of the screen. It’s very irritating. Stop messing with things, Mozilla.
I can almost hear the designer’s pitch in my head, some tacky up-beat music playing in the background:
“Now tabs in the tab bar take more space, while the text in them is shortened and occupies a smaller portion of the tab. So if you have many tabs open, you get only a couple of letters to distinguish between tabs, but lots of empty space between them. The font occupies less than 1/5 of the tab’s height, with lots of empty space around it. It’s roomy. It’s airy. It’s chic. It’s modern. It’s… Proton.”
*standing ovation by jubilant execs*
There are three things I like about Firefox: the menu bar, relatively tight dropdown menus (I have many rows in my dropdowns) and three, I trust you more than google in term of snooping about me.
Please keep the tight dropdowns
On Firefox 93 bookmarks has less gap between them in Bookmarks Toolbar.
Have to enable these in about:config
browser.compactmode.show = TRUE to show the compact density option
browser.uidensity =1 (switches to a compact layout)
Thanks for the information. I was going to drop firefox altogether without this.