Favorite Firefox Extensions

I’m a geek: There is a lot of joy to be had in set­ting up a new com­put­er, even when things don’t go com­plete­ly smooth­ly.

How­ev­er, in start­ing fresh (and I mean fresh, right down to a blank hard dri­ve), it’s eas­i­er to see just what I con­sid­er “essen­tials.” Now, var­i­ous pro­grams, such as Gaim or Dreamweaver come to mind, but in this case I want to share with every­one my favorite Fire­fox extensions. 

Now, I real­ize that my audi­ence for this is more lim­it­ed than my usu­al posts — only about 24% of my vis­i­tors are using Fire­fox; 66% use Inter­net Explor­er, 5% use Camino, and 4% use Opera.

To the Fire­fox users, I hope that you see an exten­sion you haven’t pre­vi­ous­ly heard about and decide to try out.

To the Inter­net Explor­er, Camino, and Opera users — as well as to the deviant users of Netscape, Camino, Mozil­la, Kon­queror, and Epiphany (which each account for >1% of vis­i­tors) — maybe you’ll find rea­son to switch to Fire­fox. Then again, I speak main­ly to the Inter­net Explor­er users; all the oth­er browsers are prob­a­bly great in their own right.

So, all that being said, here are the exten­sions that I installed. There were sev­er­al oth­ers on my old instal­la­tion of Fire­fox, but they weren’t use­ful enough to make it onto the new computer.

  • Adblock Filterset.G Updater — This exten­sion is use­less with­out either Adblock or Adblock Plus (see next entry). What it does is syn­chro­nizes your Adblock fil­ter black­list with an up-to-date and com­pre­hen­sive fil­ter rule set.
  • Adblock Plus — An ad block­ing tool — one of the best I’ve ever seen. I also use it to block hor­ren­dous MIDI back­ground music on web­sites, as well as var­i­ous auto-play­ing music play­ers, such as those found on Myspace (such play­ers should all be nuked any­way). You may won­der why I rec­om­mend an ad block­ing exten­sion while at the same time I dis­play ads on my own site; well, I’m not in this for the mon­ey — if the ads in any way help cov­er host­ing costs, that’s good enough for me.
  • Col­orZil­la — Col­orZil­la places a handy eye­drop­per tool in the sta­tus bar which allows you to grab the exact col­or codes of any part of a web­site. I can’t count how many times this has come in handy — both for graph­ic edit­ing and page styling.
  • Faster­fox — As if Fire­fox was­n’t fast enough, Faster­fox tunes up Fire­fox’s con­fig­u­ra­tion to speed up your brows­ing expe­ri­ence. Just don’t use the prefetch­ing fea­ture; seems as though it could cause more prob­lems than it is worth.
  • Fire Encrypter — This does a lot more than I actu­al­ly need (such as cryp­tog­ra­phy or Morse Code con­ver­sions), but it does con­tain a great pass­word gen­er­a­tor (you aren’t using the same word every­where, are you?) as well as a sim­ple way to hash a word or phrase using a vari­ety of hash­ing algo­rithms. I’ve not had a huge use for that, but it has come in handy every now and then.
  • IE Tab — I’m a new user to this one, and I must say it works much bet­ter than I thought it would. What it does is allow any tab opened in Fire­fox to be ren­dered as an “Inter­net Explor­er tab.” In oth­er words, you essen­tial­ly have an instance of Inter­net Explor­er open with­in Fire­fox. This is handy because every now and then there are sites I’d like to vis­it that require the use of ActiveX, which Fire­fox does­n’t sup­port (for good rea­sons). Win­dows Update comes to mind, as does PC Pit­stop. With IE Tab, I need only open the rel­e­vant site in an IE tab and I’m good to go — the site will load and work just as if it was opened in Inter­net Explor­er. No more look­ing around for that one last link to Inter­net Explor­er that I’ve left in my Win­dows installation!
  • Search­Sta­tus — Dis­plays Google PageR­ank & Alexa Rank infor­ma­tion for the page (Google) or site (Alexa) that you are vis­it­ing. Yes, it is sim­ply a mat­ter of ego, but it is nice to be able to see at a glance how my sites are doing.
  • Snap­per — Quick­ly and eas­i­ly select a por­tion of the cur­rent­ly dis­played web­site to save as an image, use­ful for mak­ing images for tuto­ri­als, Wikipedia usage, and so on. Caveat: Cur­rent­ly Snap­per does not install on the lat­est ver­sion of Fire­fox; how­ev­er, in the com­ments near the bot­tom of its page, a user has pro­vid­ed an alter­nate down­load that works like a treat.
  • TinyUrl Cre­ator — Adds a nav­i­ga­tion tool­bar but­ton to make gen­er­at­ing a TinyUrl for the cur­rent page quick and easy. You nev­er even have to vis­it the TinyUrl website!
  • UI Tweak­er — Pro­vides a sim­ple inter­face for cus­tomiz­ing sev­er­al aspects of Fire­fox’s user inter­face. I’m wait­ing for it to be updat­ed to once again allow for mul­ti-line book­mark tool­bars and am bummed that the fea­ture was removed from the lat­est version.

Well, that’s my list. If you are a Fire­fox fan as I am, you prob­a­bly have heard of or used most of these; great minds think alike, right? But also, I’m sure there are plen­ty of exten­sions that you are using that I haven’t tried or heard of yet, so feel free to share any of your favorites in the comments!

If you aren’t a Fire­fox user and haven’t enjoyed the ben­e­fits of such a cus­tomiz­able brows­er expe­ri­ence, don’t you think it’s time to switch?

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Rick Beckman