By: Joe ‘Zonker’ Brockmeier
Fullerscreen is an extension that gives Web pages in Firefox the full run of your monitor. If you spend much time using Web-based applications like Gmail, Google Notebook, or Backpack, Fullerscreen is a must-have addition to Firefox.
Firefox already has a Full Screen feature, which you can access by going to View -> Full Screen, or by pressing F11. However, the standard Firefox full screen view still includes a location/toolbar and a tab bar, if you have any tabs open.
The Fullerscreen extension extends the Web page from top to bottom and to both sides of the screen. The only intrusion by browser chrome is the scrollbar, if the page requires scrolling.
Daniel Glazman, lead engineer on the Nvu project, has been putting up builds of the Fullerscreen extension under the Mozilla Public License (MPL) on his blog and on Firefox’s Add-ons site. The most recent version, as of this writing, is 0.98.
To get the extension, go to Firefox’s Add-ons site, or visit Glazman’s blog for the most recent builds. On the Add-ons site, you can just click the Install button and Firefox will walk you through the installation process. If you grab the extension from Glazman’s site, it will be saved to Firefox’s default download directory. Go to File -> Open File and navigate to the default download directory. Select the file named fullerscreen-x.xx.xpi, where x.xx is the version number, click Open, and Firefox will walk you through the installation.
Once Fullerscreen is installed, you’ll need to restart Firefox. Then, open the Add-ons manager by going to Tools -> Add-ons and select Fullerscreen. Click Preferences to modify Fullerscreen’s behavior.
In the preference dialog, you can tweak Fullerscreen’s behavior — how close the mouse gets to the edge of the screen before Fullerscreen displays the toolbar, whether you’ll see updates to the status bar, and how long the toolbar should be displayed. I turn off the status bar updates because I rarely care about the messages displayed there, and if it’s left on, the status bar will be displayed almost constantly when viewing some sites, such as Gmail.
You can also get to the preferences dialog by going to the status bar and right-clicking on the Fullerscreen icon, which is a square with four arrows pointing at the corners of the square.
After you’ve set the preferences, close the Add-ons manager, go to a Web page you want to see full screen, and press F11 or click the Fullerscreen icon on the status bar. At this point, you should have nothing but Web page staring you in the face. Take a few seconds to bask in the glory of having no distractions — no location bar, no tab bar, no status bar. Nada — just Web page.
If you want to enter a URL, type Ctrl-l. Instead of bringing the cursor to the location bar, Fullerscreen will open the Open Web Location dialog. If you want to search, type Ctrl-k, which will take you to Firefox’s default search engine.
Fullerscreen may seem like a small addition to Firefox, but makes using Web-based applications far more pleasant and productive. It’s also a big boon when using a laptop or monitor that doesn’t have a high resolution. My desktop machine sports a 1680×1050 resolution, so Firefox has oodles of room to spread out without needing the full screen feature, but when working off of my ThinkPad, with its dinky 1024×768 resolution, I want all the screen space I can get for the actual Web page. That makes Fullerscreen an invaluable tool.