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23 May 2011, 12:58

Mozilla Labs: LessChrome HD add-on provides more space to browse

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Mozilla Prospector The Mozilla Labs developers have published a new experimental add-on called "LessChrome HD" for the Firefox web browser. The Firefox extension removes many of the visible graphical user interface features of Firefox, often referred to as "chrome", to provide the maximum amount of space for displaying a web page.

Zoom The LessChrome HD add-on hides the URL bar, browser navigation and search window.
Once the add-on is installed, parts of the browser's chrome are hidden from view by default. For example, the navigation buttons, the "Awesome Bar" smart URL bar and the search box are hidden from view; they can be made visible again by moving the mouse over the tab bar.

However, there could be some problems with this solution. Once hidden from view, users can no longer see if they are browsing an SSL-encrypted web page or verify that the security certificate of the site they have visited is valid. While users could, of course, hover over the tabs to display this information, it's unlikely that most will do so on every page they visit. As such, victims may not realise when they are visiting a phishing site.

Zoom LessChrome HD, when enabled, hides important information like SSL status and information about the site's security certificate.
Development versions of Google's Chrome web browser also have a similar feature. In Chrome 13, users can enable "Compact Navigation" via the experimental features page, which can be accessed by entering "about:flags" into the URL bar. Once enabled, users can right-click on a tab and select "Hide the toolbar" – when a new tab is opened, the URL bar will re-appear under the tabs. At this time the feature only works on the Windows version of the Canary branch of Chrome.

LessChrome HD is part of Mozilla Lab's Prospector series of experiments. Other Prospector experiments include the Home Dash and AwesomeBar HD.

More details about LessChrome HD, including a screencast video, can be found in a post on the Prospector blog. LessChrome HD is available to download as an add-on for Firefox and supports version 4.0 or later – a browser restart is not required. LessChrome HD source code is hosted on GitHub and released under the Mozilla Public License Version 1.1.

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