Why You Should Use Prism with Firefox

Written by Amit Agarwal on May 11, 2009

Prism is an interesting new application that helps you create desktop shortcuts to your favorite websites in few clicks. These website shortcuts can either be placed on the desktop screen, the Windows start menu or the Dock in Mac OS.

And when you double-click any of these shortcut icons, the associated website will open in a new Firefox window with a very minimalist interface. Firefox windows created through Prism do not support tabs, there are no bookmarks, the address bar is read-only and the right-click (contextual) menu has options related to copy-paste only.

Prism for Firefox – Advantages & Tips

You may be wondering why would anyone want to view a website inside a Firefox window that is so limited? Well, here are a couple of reasons why you may find Prism for Firefox very useful:

Crash Proof – Prism creates a new instance of Firefox for every website (similar to Google Chrome)  so if any of these windows suffers a crash, you can still continue working with other websites. In standard Firefox, one bad site (or non-responsive script) can shut down your entire browser session.

Light-weight Browser – Running Firefox through Prism is fast because the browser won’t load any of your existing extensions or themes that are normally responsible for slowing down the browser.

Login into Multiple Web Accounts at Once

If you have two or more web accounts (on say Gmail) and need to check mails across all these accounts simultaneously, Prism makes that easy. Just create different desktop shortcuts for the same Gmail website and assign a meaningful name to each of these icons (e.g., Gmail – Personal, Gmail – Work, etc.).

You can now open these "web apps" and login into multiple accounts on the same site simultaneously.

Check your Mails at Start-up

If the first thing that you do at the computer is checking emails, it may be a good idea to create a desktop shortcut for your web mail website (via Prism) and copy that shortcut icon in the Start-up folder so that your inbox loads automatically whenever your start the computer.

Load External Website in the Same Prism Window

When you click an external hyperlink on a Prism-loaded website, the target site will open in your default browser which may be IE, Google Chrome or Firefox itself.

You can however override this default setting such that certain external domains / sub-domains open in the same window. Here’s how:

First, open the configuration file (webapp.ini) associated with your desktop shortcut. You can find the location of this file through properties of your website shortcut icon. In Vista, the default location is:


Now add a new parameter called "include" listing all domains that should be opened in the web app and not the default browser. Separate multiple uris with commas as in this example:

name=Google Docs

For Power Users – Here’s one more reason why you may want to use Prism with Firefox.

I normally have 8-12 tabs open in my Firefox browser but when it’s time to call it a day, I simply close the browser and the session gets saved in Firefox. When I start the browser again, Firefox will auto-open all the previous sites so I can resume from where I left off the previous day.

Sounds good but there’s a slight problem here. Sometimes I just need to check my web emails and don’t want Firefox to load the other 8 sites that are part of my previous session.

That’s where I can use a Prism shortcut to check my email and it won’t override my last day’s session which is still saved in (standard) Firefox.

Subscribe to our Email Newsletter