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Firefox 3.7 will Bring Back “Waiting Cursor”

June 22nd, 2010 1 comment

Now what’s a waiting cursor? When you reload a page in Firefox with [F5], it may take something between a fraction of a second and several seconds before the reloaded content is shown — how long exactly, depends on both your connectivity and also on the connection quality and load of the website you look at.

All Firefox versions used to show that the browser is still reloading (and you’re still looking at the old content) by changing the standard mouse pointer into something different, like a pointer with a spinning wheel attached to it.

With Firefox 3.6 (and perhaps also in 3.5) that feature was removed. This was soon reported as a bug and discussed since 2009. So why is this useful or needed? Imagine you’re in fullscreen mode (e.g. on a netbook). You press [F5]. Nothing happens. What does it mean? That the site is not available and you’ll get a timeout error if you wait another half minute? Or that the reload worked but everything looks the same because the site hasn’t changed? Well, I’d like to know, visually, what is going on. I reload several news pages dozens of times a day, and I don’t want to switch the fullscreen mode off every time to observe the reload progress on the page’s tab.

Now the lost feature is about to come back (though only as something you can re-enable in the non-GUI options). If you can’t wait (like I couldn’t), do the following:

  1. Install the latest alpha version of Firefox 3.7
  2. Start it and go to about:config
  3. search for “cursor”
  4. double click ui.use_activity_cursor to change it from false to true

Apparently the feature was reenabled late in 2009, but I only found out today what to do…

One small problem remains: Since 3.7 is still in alpha, many plugins don’t work, for example the plugin that moves the tab bar from the top to the left (or right) where I like it to sit.

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