Dam you firefox, why can't you be more like Safari?
March 15, 2008 5:09 AM   Subscribe

I love Firefox. I love using the Fox. I love the warm and fuzzy feeling I get from using opensource software. But, I am drawn to Safari, and for only one feature. I love the way Safari handles PDFs. I like how it opens them in the blink of an eye, letting me view the PDF and then save it with the click of a button (overlay? whatever). What I'm wondering is, is there any way to get the same behaviour in Firefox. I'm relatively new to Macs (soon to be 1 year), so I'm not too familiar with all the ins and outs, but I assume it is somehow connected to Preview.app. There was an earlier attempt at doing something similar on ask.MeFi, but that didn't really lead anywhere. Google searching doesn't help either. In case you are wondering, I like this because I deal with a lot of PDF files (journal articles, woo). I'd consider switching to Safari as a main browser if it wasn't for the little differences (FF3's address bar, Command+1/2/3/4/etc, copious amount of extensions).
posted by doctor.dan to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
posted by TheRaven at 5:47 AM on March 15, 2008

Alas, the Shubert-it plugin TheRaven posted above only works on PowerPC macs (it silently fails on Intel macs). However, you can set Firefox to launch in Rosetta (with an accompanying performance penalty) by clicking on it, choosing "Get Info" from the file menu, and checking the "open using Rosetta" checkbox. This should get the plugin working, but it will slow down Firefox somewhat.

I don't know of any Intel-native PDF plugins other than Safari's built-in support, unfortunately.
posted by zachlipton at 6:02 AM on March 15, 2008

I use Foxit as my reader and traditional Adobe products for making PDF's. Foxit pretty much loads anything for me instantly---not sure if it's available for mac tho.
posted by TomMelee at 6:06 AM on March 15, 2008

I'm a Mac-loving college student, so I can empathise with you a little here. While I'm sorry I can't help you directly with your question, I would recommend Skim as a PDF reader; (very) slightly slower than Preview, but rather easier to work with. Via.

FoxIt's not Mac-compatible.
posted by WalterMitty at 6:45 AM on March 15, 2008

Is there a reason you haven't considered Adobe's Acrobat Reader plugin?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:17 AM on March 15, 2008

Adobe's Acrobat reader plugin is on par with RealPlayer in terms of bloatware crap any sensible person doesn't want hide nor hair of.
posted by dmd at 7:23 AM on March 15, 2008 [4 favorites]

Best answer: The difference between the two is because PDF support is an intrinsic and low-level part of how the Mac handles the display, so throwing up a PDF is second-nature to natural Mac apps. Firefox very much isn't a natural Mac app, and relies heavily on things that will work on many platforms.

Hence its PDF support, like so many other things, is lowest common denominator. And there's still no good intel native plugin, which is a bit shocking.
posted by bonaldi at 9:46 AM on March 15, 2008

Keep in mind Safari has a tendency to crash a lot...it gives you this cute "Safrari just quit unexpectedly" message AFTER the fact. It's another factor to weigh in your decision, for sure.

It's not any fun to be on page 7 of your 24 pg awesomely interesting journal article and have Safari crash! (I know, it's happened to me)
posted by librarylis at 2:15 AM on March 16, 2008

So, uh, does anyone know how to use the PDF Plugin with FireFox *and* use Safari's built-in PDF support? Seems the former overrides the latter....
posted by thejoshu at 11:30 AM on March 16, 2008

Response by poster: @TheRaven & zachlipton, thanks for the link. I've seen the plugin, but it doesn't seem ideal (Safari's PDF support is ingeniously simplistic). I'm trying very hard to avoid anything PPC (which is now possible that SPSS and Word 2008 are Universal).

@TomMelee. I use FoxitReader on my XP partition. It's nice, but nowhere near Mac OS X's internal PDF support. Straight from the box Mac OS 10.5 can delete add pages to PDFs and it does a decent job of handling annotation (I prefer Skim for that, totally free). That and as WalterMitty pointed out, it's Windows only.

@Thorzdad, I had Acrobat installed on Tiger. It butchered PDF support in both Firefox and Safari. It also had a load time, and saving PDFs was cumbersome, so not an ideal solution. (thanks dmd and bonaldi as well).

@librarylis, have you tried History > Reopen All Windows From Last Session after a Safari crash? Worked well for me :). I also don't read PDFs in Safari, I delegate that to Papers (which is amazing if you handle a lot of articles, this is what I dreamed of back in Windows).

@thejoshu, it doesn't look like there is a plugin to use PDFkit within FireFox. It doesn't seem like something overly complicated to implement, but I'm guessing it isn't included for the same reason that there is no AddressBook support in Thunderbird. Here's hoping that with platform-specific themes being integral to firefox 3.0, they throw in some platform-specific features for 3.5 :)
posted by doctor.dan at 7:34 PM on March 16, 2008

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