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?