Friday, January 04, 2008

Firefox 3 Full Page Zoom: Good Idea Bad Excution

I was so excited about the full page zoom feature in Firefox 3. Even more excited about it than the new bookmarks. However, it turned out to be not what I expected. You see, I have a laptop with Ubuntu in the living room for casual browsing. The native screen resolution is 1920x1200 which makes the websites we visit very tiny and unreadable, although very crisp.

To fix the problem, i tried to increase the font size in Firefox but that broke the design of almost all websites, rendering them unreadable and defeating the purpose to increase the font size in the first place. I also tried to reduce the resolution but the buttons and menus became huge and the Firefox interface took almost a third of the screen. And since we're no longer working in the native resolution of the screen, everything looks a little fuzzy. So I took the best of both solutions; increase the font slightly and decrease the resolution slightly. Now most websites are readable with very small changes in layout due to font size. Life is good. Its about to get better.

Enter Full Page Zoom. When I first heard about it I thought this will solve the problem. It basically increases the size of the whole page, not just the font. It lets you zoom in without breaking the layout of the page. Now I can switch back to full resolution and zoom in to make the site bigger to accompany my large resolution and keep everything crisp and clear and readable. And it works. But..

With this new feature, they (Firefox developers) introduced a new "feature." They call it site-specific preferences. Which basically means that you set your preferences for each site separately. This sounds like an okay feature but it wrecks my use of full page zoom. You see, every time I zoom in to one page and read it then visit a different site, the full page zoom returns to the default zoom and renders everything smaller. Then I have to zoom in again to read the next page and so on.

There is no way to configure any of these two features and no way to disable site-specific preferences. Maybe someone will write an extension? Maybe I will do it? Who knows, Always Zoom extension! (you read it here first). I hope this issue will be addressed before launch.

My post in Mozilla forums about this subject sparked a good discussion which eventually turned to two guys fighting about a totally different subject.


  1. I ran into the same problem you have (coincidentally I have the same setup: 1920x1200 on a 15" laptop screen running Ubuntu) and came across your blog looking for a solution.

    I couldn't find anything off Google, but found this extension:

    Now I just browse at 120% full page zoom on all pages and it works great!

  2. wow!! Thanks ancientpc. For the first time help comes to me rather than the other way around :)

    I'll install this extension and let you know.

    Thanks for sharing.


  4. I agree with you completely. There's no way to set the default zoom level globally currently. I have a very large monitor and I want to sit further away from the screen. Zooming in works perfectly and looks great; only each time I open a new tab I have to change the zoom level.