If you’ve made the switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox, you’ll have noticed one thing Microsoft’s browser does much better than its rivals. The way Internet Explorer handles downloads is, from a convenience standpoint, second to none, and it’s not a new development either. Internet Explorer has handled downloads in much the same way for a long, long time.
From the description, you may have already guessed this feature. If not, they’re two situation-dependent buttons, marked “Open” and “Run.” These buttons save time and hard drive space by never having to store a program installer in any non-temporary folder. Firefox is extensible, and this wonderful little button can be added to the browser within a minute.
Extending Firefox Downloads
Begin by opening the page for the relevant extension – OpenDownload². As the name suggests, we’re not the only ones to miss this feature, and an extension has already been and gone in this same vein.
Add the extension to the browser, and then restart it. Open Download is not one of the “restartless” extensions, so there will be no difference otherwise. Even after restarting the browser, the change is not immediately obvious until you go to download a file.
Download a file, archive, or installer, and you should notice an immediate difference. The download window will look different, and there are three possibilities for the new entries. These are:
Run: Open the file as soon as the download is finished, just as in Internet Explorer.
Open: Identical to the “Run” option in concept, but it applies to files other than software. A dropdown lets you choose what program to open in. This adds a layer of decision that the next option deliberately does not.
Open in default Win32 application: This opens the file in the program defined as the default for the file type. For instance, a .doc file would open in Microsoft Word or an equivalent program, since they are the defaults for viewing them.
All three options are relatively easy to understand given that they appear only when relevant. Opening in the default application is an unusual option, since the dropdown often includes the default program as its first choice.
There are no settings for the add-on; it does exactly what it sets out to do without any further configuration.
OpenDownload² is a small tweak compared to some of the radical things that can be done to Firefox, but it’s still worth attention. If you’re a frequent downloader of software, it streamlines things to such a degree that you’ll wonder how you survived without it. If you’ve recently switched from Internet Explorer, you’ll have restored one of the browser’s best features in a matter of minutes.