Why can't Firefox print as well as Internet Explorer?

Printing seems to be at the bottom of Mozilla's priority list. It's time to make Firefox the equal of Internet Explorer in terms of printing Web pages.

Michael Horowitz

Michael Horowitz wrote his first computer program in 1973 and has been a computer nerd ever since. He spent more than 20 years working in an IBM mainframe (MVS) environment. He has worked in the research and development group of a large Wall Street financial company, and has been a technical writer for a mainframe software company.

He teaches a large range of self-developed classes, the underlying theme being Defensive Computing. Michael is an independent computer consultant, working with small businesses and the self-employed. He can be heard weekly on The Personal Computer Show on WBAI.


Michael Horowitz
2 min read

What are they thinking at Mozilla? How could they devote time and effort to eye candy like new icons and drastically reworking the address bar when Firefox so often fails at printing.

How did printing get pushed to the bottom of the priority list?

I read lots of Web pages in hard copy and from the get-go (version 0.8 or so) Firefox has underperformed when it comes to printing Web pages. That issue and the slow start-up time are two constant annoyances endured by devoted Firefox users. It's been quite awhile now, and I think it's time that Mozilla get around to making Firefox the equal of Internet Explorer in terms of printing Web pages.

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In Firefox 2, not one word of the article prints. Not a single word. Print preview shows one mostly blank page.

In Firefox 3, the first page is the same as Firefox 2, page 2 has the article and page 3 has some links from the page footer. But, the article is about 7 or so pages and page 2 has only the first page. In other words, Firefox 3 can't print the vast majority of the article.

Firefox is Lucy Ricardo. For those of you who recall I Love Lucy, I'm Ricky. I love my wife, Lucy, but sometimes she just does the craziest things.

Maybe it's time for Ricky to go to the Opera. Version 9.5 of the Opera browser, running on Windows XP, prints the entire article, although it also feels the need to start with an appetizer of an empty first page. Internet Explorer 7 prints the entire article perfectly, no blank first page.

Update August 20, 2008: A commenter below noted that Safari can print the article in question, I haven't tried this. The person didn't say however if it was Safari on the Mac or on Windows. I only tried Firefox on Windows XP, another commenter below said that Firefox 3 on a Mac printed this page fine. Firefox version 2 had an optional toolbar button to report web sites that didn't display well in the browser (the button looked like a spider web). Version 3 of Firefox eliminated this button, so problems like this can no longer be reported to Mozilla.

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