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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Access Downloads, Bookmarks, Add-Ons & More Within Firefox Start Page

Back in Firefox 13, Mozilla introduced a new Start Page that allowed you to access the Downloads, Bookmarks, History, Add-on, Sync, and Settings pages from it. The pages all opened in a new tab. In Firefox 15, it allowed users to access the Options page in the same window. This feature hasn’t been extended to other Firefox pages, and so far, you can only view the Options page in a separate Window.Cockpit Home Page is a Firefox add-on that changes all that; given that you’re on the Firefox Start Page, you can click any one of the page buttons to view them in the same tab. The tab splits itself into two; the top portion allows you to return to the Start Page or visit one of the other pages while the bottom portion displays the contents of whichever page it was you selected...
Once installed, Cockpit Home Page will reposition the Firefox Start Pages’ buttons to the top. It will also make two additions to it – a ‘Home’ at the start and an ‘About Firefox’ button at the end. The Home button will allow you to return to the Firefox Start Page whereas the About Firefox button will show you the version of Firefox you’re using and the release channel you’re on...
Cockpit Home Page

Click any one of the buttons to access its options within the tab. As you can see in the screenshot below, the Bookmarks library opens within the same tab as the Start Page. This will navigate you away from the Start Page , of course. That is, you won’t be able to use it to start a search, until you return to it by hitting the Home button.
Cockpit Home Page bookmarks
Cockpit Home Page is meant to make access to these pages easier and works well for the most part, but it does have its shortcomings. If you were to type any of the keyboard shortcuts that normally open the Downloads, Add-ons page etc, they would open in a new tab, new window or side bar as they usually do.
The add-on is aimed toward making the buttons at the bottom of the Start Page more useful, but if the functionality were extended to account for the keyboard shortcuts as well, it would become much more practical. In its present state, users who incline towards using keyboard shortcuts when browsing will deem it useless. From a regular user’s point, however, the add-on isn’t bad at all; it reduces window clutter and makes use of the native features in Firefox to deliver a better Start Page.

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