Firefox is a great web browser. If nothing else, the large number of people switching from Internet Explorer to Firefox convinced Microsoft to finally update IE. When Firefox added inline spell checking with version 2.0 they boosted the writing quality of every blogger, wiki contributor, and forum post on the Internet. What more can you ask for?
Actually, the best thing about Firefox is its extensibility. Anyone with some programming skill and some free time can add features and functionality by building plugins and extensions. There are well over 2000 extensions listed at Mozilla.org
, so where do you start? You can find a lot of "top 10" lists around the web
, but I thought I'd add my two cents as well. Here is a list of some of the best Firefox extensions.
1. Adblock Plus
- Adblock is a controversial choice because it allows users to block out the advertisements that many websites rely on for income. This website, for example. But again and again I find myself thanking the Flying Spaghetti Monster for Adblock. Some sites fill their pages with flash-based ads that flash, flutter, crawl across the pages, etc. And those are the ads I inevitably block.
- StumbleUpon lets you channel surf the web. Click on the Stumble button and you'll get a new web site - give it a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down and StumbleUpon will suggest sites more to your liking. I should warn you, though, that this extension is very addictive and a terrible time-waster.
- Now that I've ruined your productivity with StumbleUpon, I'll give you a little bit back. Procrastato watches for notorious time-wasting sites like Digg, MySapce, and YouTube and reminds you every few minutes to get back to work.
- If you are a web developer
5. Web Developer
- The Web Developer Toolbar isn't quite as powerful as Firebug but it has some nice features that are easy to get to in a pinch. For example you can resize the browser window to make sure your site still works in 800x600. You can also kill all CSS styles, which actually make MySpace tolerable.
6. Tamper Data
- If you ever run into a tricky HTTP header problem, or want to see what all is taking so long to load on a site, Tamper Data is the tool for you.
7. User Agent Switcher
- You don't need to be a web developer to appreciate this add-on. There are still a lot of sites out there with buggy old code that tries to look for a certain version of IE and locks you out otherwise. Use User Agent Switcher to tell the site that Firefox is IE, and 99 times out of 100 everything runs perfectly well.
8. del.icio.us Bookmarks
- I don't know about you but I have been building my bookmarks lists for 10 years, exporting and importing from one browser version to the next. The list is now way too large to be usable, but del.icio.us makes my bookmarks taggable and searchable. This plugin integrates them back into the browser.
- I was a little worried when SiteAdvisor was bought by McAffee, since I'm not a huge fan of their anti-virus suite. But SiteAdvisor remains an absolutely necessary tool on the wild web. When you do a Google search, you'll see little green checkmarks next to well-behaved sites and red X's next to spammers and spyware purveyors. Go install this on your mom and dad's computers today.
Did I miss any? Let me know about your favorite extensions below.