It’s Time for URL-Specific Browser Settings

By Deane Barker on January 30, 2005

Here’s what I’d like to see for upcoming browsers: customized browser settings on a URL-by-URL basis. I think it’s time to admit that different sites sometimes require vastly different browser settings to work optimally.

For instance, I visit some sites that scroll horizontally. To see them completely, I need to remove the Firefox sidebar. I display some reports on my intranet that I alway end up going into Full Screen mode to view. I normally don’t pass HTTP referrers (see this), but some sites suppress images without a referrer to prevent hot-linking, so I need to pass a referrer to them. Then there’s the browser-based printing thing I complained about the other day.

It’d be very handy if Firefox could do all this for me. I could see having default settings, but overriding individual settings per site. So for a URL with a wildcard of “http://intranet/wide_reports*”, supress the sidebar and go into Full Screen mode.

This is probably hard from a technical perspective, as Firefox would essentially have to scan all the settings every time a page loaded. But what a difference this would make. Provide some centralized control and it would be fantastic for intranets, since you could control not only the page, but have some form of control over the environment the page loads into.

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  1. Anyone who designs a site that scrolls horizontally should be repeatedly beaten with a cast-iron skillet. (With the single, clever exception of the old-fashioned radio design at CSS Zen Garden).

  2. As for horizontal scrolling, I find a lot of sites designed for 1024 x 768 resolution, but which fail to take into account the actual viewing area of the browser. While my screen is 1024-pixels wide, my viewing area right now as I write this is only 846-pixels wide when you subtract the Firefox sidebar on the left and the standard browser scrollbar on the right.

  3. The Greasemonkey extension for Firefox might get you at least part of the way, if not all of the way, to where you’d like to go. It lets you create custom javascripts and associate them with specific sites. So when you arrive at that site, your javascript executes. So you could automatically adjust the window size at certain sites, etc.

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