I’ve actually been able to refer several people to some very helpful Firefox extensions in the recent past. Since I keep recommending some of the same ones over and over, I thought it was about time that I put together a list, so that I could share some of my experiences with the world, and hopefully benefit a few of you poor souls out there.
Obligitory Mumbo Jumbo: These extensions have worked flawlessly for me, a true credit to their authors no doubt. That’s not to say that any of them are supported by the Mozilla Foundation, their authors, or myself. Just because I’ve had good luck, doesn’t mean you will… Always use caution when installing unknown extensions, as a less than moral extension author could really bring down a whole world of pain on your browsing experience… I’m providing links directly to the author’s website for further information, but also a download link (if available) to obtain the extension from the Mozilla Update service for security reasons.
The A-I-O Sidebar provides a cool “toolbar” on the left side of your Firefox screen. When you click on a button on this veritcal “toolbar”, you get a convenient side-pane containing the information. I have my Extensions, Downloads, etc., all listed in the Sidebar instead of their own seperate windows. It’s pretty customizeable, I just wish I could force everything to open in it when I hit a hot key…
The CustomizeGoogle extension adds some very helpful links to every Google search page, allowing you to quickly check other search engines and websites for the same search query. I’ve only ever used it to quickly check Yahoo!, but it also includes Ask Jeeves, AllTheWeb, MSN, Feedster, Bloglines, and a few others. It also removes ads and a few other things that I haven’t really noticed.
Fasterfox promises to improve your browsing speed by “intelligently” snagging pages linked to by the page you’re currently viewing, so that they’re already cached for immediate display when you click the link.
I really don’t know how well this all works, and I haven’t had the time (motivation?) to do any kind of actual testing. I like it because it also tacks on a cool status bar indication of a page’s load time.
This one won’t be of any use to you unless you religiously use the LookSmart Furl service. It adds 2 convenient icons to your toolbar: one for “Furling” the current page (which opens a small popup for more details), and two a button that spawns a drop-down of other Furl-related links, such as the one to your archive.
Not on Mozilla Update
Google Toolbar for Firefox
You knew it was coming somewhere here. Even if I don’t totally believe their ‘do no evil’ mantra these days, it’s still very useful. Besides, I like seeing a PageRank for my blog say ‘4’. Hey, you get your ego boosts where you can, right?
Not on Mozilla Update
Before I switched to Linux on my primary machine, this was my favorite feed reader of all time. Sadly, as Windows went, so did Onfolio… I’ve yet to find another feed reader that lives up to Onfolio’s expectations. Furl has replaced its clipping abilities for me now, but somewhat more clumsily and without the romanticism of the past. I’m not really using it anymore, but it felt good to have my orange Onfolio icon back…
Not on Mozilla Update
PDF Download is probably the single most important extension I have. Looking at the simplicity of its function, that really says a lot. Since Adobe’s Acrobat has become such a plague of the internet (much like Flash and Shockwave), many Firefox users have dealth with the pain and agony of a frozen browser when they were simply trying to close a PDF that had opened in one of the tabs. Welp, PDF Download is to the rescue! Every time you click on a link it sees pointing to a .pdf file, it’ll throw up a warning, providing you with several options, including: Download instead, Open in new Tab, and View as HTML. Absolutely a godsend!
Like Onfolio, ScrapBook provides webpage clipping and saving. Also like Onfolio, it’s been replaced in my toolkit by Furl, but I still seem to install it as a matter of habit. If you can’t get behind the web-based Furl, and don’t want to use Onfolio (are you THAT cheap?), ScrapBook is for you!
I got SmoothWheel for one simple reason. FeedLounge uses auto-scrolling CSS DIV tags to display data, and Firefox won’t natively support scrolling with the mouse-wheel in these containers. SmoothWheel is designed to smooth the “jumpy” scrolling inherent to just about every browser known. A convenient side-effect is that it also enables scrolling in CSS created objects.
Rumor has it that the CSS-scrolling functionality is included in Firefox 1.5, but this isn’t verified. When you upgrade your extensions after the release of 1.5, you may want to check to weed out some clutter.
I write web-code… A lot of it. Probably way more than I should admit to without being able to show any kind of return on my investment. What can I say, it’s a fun hobby? The Web Developer toolbar provides countless utilities for anyone actively designing websites. From simple access to W3C validators for your code, to CSS outlining and editing, to Form altering on the fly, it’s an extension I’ll often forget to install, but not for long…
That’s it folks! 11 extensions that come highly recommended by yours truly. I’ve got them running on 3 seperate Firefox installs, and haven’t had a problem with them, but that’s not to say you won’t. Best of luck, and please let me know if you find any dead links or think I should try out an extension I’m not using regularly! I don’t usually go poking around for extensions, just pick them up as they’re recommended, so I’d love to hear about any you use!