Using Firefox as my primary browser

For a while my browser usage has been Safari as my primary and Firefox as my backup (for the rare site that didn’t work in Safari, usually due to the “modern” web being terrible), mostly because it gave me good integration with the iCloud Keychain as well as a few nice little handoff things (migrating sessions between computers/my phone, autofilling SMS OTP keys, etc.).

However, ever since the most recent Safari update, I’ve been finding it to be incredibly unstable or troublesome in a lot of ways (like entering a URL causing it to not actually load said URL, or feedback just plain being lost), and of course the recent loss of the 1Password 6 extension has made it less pleasant as well. (I have reasons for not wanting to upgrade to 1Password 7, but that’s a whole other rant.) Also, as nice as the iCloud Keychain is, Safari’s password autofill has always had problems on a lot of sites, and the fact I had to run it side-by-side with 1Password to get my passwords available on Windows machines was getting pretty annoying.

So, I decided to actually try Firefox as my full-time browser on macOS, and so far I’m liking it.

What I miss

Not having my SMS OTP codes be autofilled at login was slightly annoying, but not a huge deal since that doesn’t happen all that often; most of it’s just been because I’m now logging into stuff from a new browser, and that settled down pretty quickly.

Not having Picture-In-Picture video support (where videos can pop out to an always-on-top thing in the corner of the screen) is a little annoying, but so few sites supported that anyway. Although it turns out Safari now has UX for forcing that, but usually when I want to watch a video off to the side I’m just doing it on my iPad anyway.

Of course that raises the whole lack-of-Handoff thing now; it’s a bit more difficult to get a webpage onto my iPad from my computer. It looks like the easiest way is to use Firefox’s “pocket” to then open it up on Firefox Mobile. Fortunately, this rarely comes up anyway – usually if I’m migrating a video specifically it’s on YouTube and I can just do that via my “watch later” playlist. And there’s not a whole lot else I’ve used Handoff for anyway.

Also, I used Firefox for my private Twitter account (since Twitter doesn’t have any reasonable way to switch accounts on desktop for some reason) but between Mastodon and Publ having such good privacy controls I, like, never use it anymore anyway (and if I do need it I can just do a private browsing session and log in to the private account).

Firefox doesn’t seem to have a built-in password generator, or if it does I can’t figure out how to trigger it. Oh well, 1Password’s is, like, right there.

Finally, there’s a slight UX issue where if you open a new window and start typing a URL before the window finishes loading, sometimes the default page URL gets appended to it. Not a huge deal and probably something I should open a bug about if I can get a consistent reproduction (of course when I try reproducing it to capture a video it doesn’t happen, go figure).

What’s way better

CSS transition animations are way more fluid. For a specific example, my main page actually performs well instead of chugging along at 5fps with constant “this webpage is using significant energy” warnings even when it’s idle.

Dual-wielding the Firefox Sync with 1Password 6 is working pretty nicely; passwords I generate in Firefox remain available on my iPhone via 1Password, and having direct completion on all my browsers on all platforms is nice. (I haven’t yet switched to Firefox Mobile for iOS but I’ve played with it and it’s nice, and if I had an Android device I used regularly I’d absolutely do that.)

Having uBlock Origin back is great. None of the ad/content blockers I found for Safari worked all that well; I’d even paid for Better and while it did an okay job it still missed a lot of stuff, and what was even worse was the various ad-blocker-blockers refused to see that I’d whitelisted them in Better (but the uBlock Origin whitelist mechanism works well).

It took me a little bit to get used to having the tab bar integrated into the window frame, but now that feels totally natural, and it’s somewhat more space-efficient. Not that it matters that much but, hey, it doesn’t hurt.

Also, now I can actually consider running Xkit and BetterTTV, which were never all that great in older versions of Safari and are completely unsupported now.

Oh, also! It’s nice having HTTP Basic Auth credentials actually get stored by the password manager, rather than the password manager just claiming it will (and not doing so). I was getting pretty sick of that on the rare Basic Auth-authenticated site.


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