After months of testing, Firefox 3 (code name Gran Paradiso) is available for download from Mozilla. With its new Gekko 1.9 engine, the browser rocks, rendering pages faster and using few system resources. As with any new browser, some add-ons created for Firefox 2 may not work, but give them time. Also, Firefox 3 includes many security-related features baked right in, such as the best of breed antiphishing protection, making Firefox the most secure browser on the market today. If you haven't already tried Firefox, what are you waiting for? Firefox 3 remains our Editors' Choice over Microsoft Internet Explorer and Opera.
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Improved within Firefox 3 are recommended Add-ons within the browser. Without going to the Firefox Add-on page, you can surf and select new Add-ons within the manager. The addons.mozilla.org site contains more than 5,000 Add-ons with ratings, recommendations, descriptions, and images.
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Smart Location Bar (aka "Awesome Bar") learns as you use Firefox. Type in a keyword and the Awesome Bar searches through your history and bookmarks and presents a list of recently accessed pages with that keyword. It works even if you know the URL. Some people do find it annoying, so there is a way to disable it (a small tweak to your about:config file). An Add-On allows you to tweak which of the search results you want to always be on top.
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You'll probably notice that the icons on the toolbar are different. The new Firefox interface has gone native, so buttons and icons will look and feel like they are a part of your operating system environment. There's also a full page zoom option under View. Notice that an icon appears next to the URL in the address bar (more on that in a moment).
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The Download Manager is also enhanced with a new look and feel. Most important is the capability to search through active and past downloads. You can also pause and resume downloads and monitor your downloads in the main browser window. In Windows, all downloads are checked by your desktop's antivirus protection.
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Firefox 3 searches and indexes your history, surfacing frequently visited pages in several ways. In addition to the Awesome Bar, there's the most visited button.
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The Library feature allows you to search your bookmarks and surfing history by name, tag, or recent visits. You can then save the search results and view them as part of your Smart Bookmarks. The Library also includes the capability to back up and restore your history and bookmarks.
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One-click bookmarks. Next to the URL within the address bar is a star icon. Click it to store the page's URL as a bookmark. Click it again to choose where to store the bookmark.
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New in Firefox 3 is the capability to tag your bookmarks. This offers another level of granularity in sorting. Using the new Library feature, you can create custom bookmark searches and save them for later use.
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Firefox 3 makes it easy to see if the page you're on is secure. Mouse over the company icon in the address bar. For a look inside all the security features within Firefox 3, see our slide show here. For an interview with the head designer of the security features, listen here.
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