Why does Firefox still look so bad in Mac OS X?

Now that I’m happy with Firefox 2 in Windows XP, I upgraded the browser on the Mac side.

It’s the same browser, but it just doesn’t look good as compared to the PC. Why? Shouldn’t something look better on the Mac?

Compared to the PC version, the Mac default theme doesn’t look as polished. The spacing still feels off…unfinished. How long has Firefox been out? Years? Finish it for the Mac, already! Do we seriously have to wait until version 3 to get the same experience on both platforms? No wonder so many Mac folks aren’t switching. If I was Mac OS X-only, I probably wouldn’t either.

On the PC side, I get the favicons in the toolbar. On the Mac, just the name.

Look at the difference in the tabs (both applications are configured with the same preferences).

Here’s the tabs on the PC:

Notice the subtle shading, the bold type on the active tab and the red close box and the lack of wasted space above and below the text. With a glance, it’s very easy to see the active tab.

Here’s the exact same thing on the Mac. Widths are different because I didn’t have the same number of tabs open and the browser set at the same overall width…that part is not important.

If there is a difference in the weight between the active and background tab text, you have to squint to see it. No red box, instead the favicon is in color. Depending on the site, that doesn’t stand out as much as the red. Minimal shading. Too much extra space above and below the tab text. Vertical real estate is premium. Don’t waste it on the application, save it all for the sites.

But this is what really annoys me…forms. They look beyond horrible in Mac Firefox. Always have. Still do.

These screenshots speak for themselves. On the PC:

On the Mac:

That’s ugly. No two ways about it.

There’s Firefoxy, a little script do-dad that makes forms look usable (if not downright pretty) in Mac Firefox, but it doesn’t work for Firefox 2. I could probably hodge-podge some customization to make Firefox on the Mac look better. Or I could install a different theme (leaning towards Pinstripe). Why should I rely on a 3rd party anyway? This should be built-in to Firefox by the Mozilla folks and it should look right by default.

I really don’t care if Firefox is “Mac-like.” I care whether it looks like the same attention went into the theme for both platforms and that I can move between the two without jarring differences (aside from the menu being attached to the top of the screen rather than the window and other platform-specific things).

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2 thoughts on “Why does Firefox still look so bad in Mac OS X?

  1. Judi Sohn says:

    That’s more like it, thanks! Unfortunately, the widgets are aqua, not the preferred Firefoxy for the G5 version, but so much better than the default version. Thanks again, Jack. I totally forgot about those builds.

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