Firefox Add-ons

I have written before about a couple of the Add-ons I use but I haven’t listed the ones I consider to be essential. So it is time to make that right. I have tried many different Add-ons or extensions as they used to be called but these are the ones I use all the time.

I won’t give links for each Add-on as they can be found by doing a search on the Get Add-ons box in Firefox.

Adblock Plus

This is probably one of the more controversial Add-ons. There are arguments for and against it as advertising is how many sites, particularly the free ones, pay the bills. However as I never click on ads I don’t feel guilty about using it. There is another advantage as in Australia we have download limits, the more we use the more we pay, so I don’t want to use my limit to download someone’s advertising that I won’t even look at.

Having said that it doesn’t block all ads. Those that are coded into the page still appear..

Blank Canvas Gmail Signatures

I’ve written about this recently so won’t add more here accept to say after living with it for a while now I am very happy. It fills a gap in Gmail.

Fast Dial

Obviously inspired by telephone speed dial this is a very handy Add-on. I manage my bookmarks in three layers. The standard bookmark menu is for links I use occasionally. It is sorted into categories to make them easy to find. Next level is Personal Toolbar. Here I keep links I use regularly but not every day. The top level is Fast Dial, it holds sites I access every day like WordPress and a couple of forums.

Fast Dial creates a tab which holds thumbnails of each site. Clicking on it opens the site in a new tab. Incredibly simple and useful. In fact I use Firefox’s ability to have multiple tabs as my homepage. First tab is IGoogle with Gmail, Google Reader and Calender displayed and the second tab is Fast Dial.

No Script

The advent of JavaScript brought a new era of web sites. Now there is hardly a site that doesn’t have some scripting built in. Most menus, buttons and media needs scripts to run. That’s great but what many people don’t realise is the the script is running on our computers. While it is doing useful things it is OK but it can just as easily be used to do damage. For more information on the dangers of scripts have a look at the No Script site.

So what can we do? It is not possible to use the web without scripting but we are at risk with it. A good compromise is to just allow it run on trusted sites. That is what No Script does. When you reach a site you have the option of allowing scripts to run just for this visit on to mark it as a trusted site for all future visits. You may find that many sites are trying to run scripts not just the one you are visiting. This can be one of the dangers although often it is OK.

It is a bit of a pain to set up as you need to approve each site the first time you visit. However once up and running it doesn’t interrupt as often as it did. A recommended Add-on if you are concerned about security.

Xmarks

Formerly known as Foxmarks it was renamed earlier this year when some new features were added. As I use a couple of computers and I like my passwords and bookmarks to be consistent across both of them I find this essential. But it also useful as a way to back up your browser data.

I used to use Google’s Browser Sync but when it was discontinued I needed to find a replacement. Foxmarks, as it was then, had just added passwords to its system and so I tried it out. It seems to work just as well as Browser Sync and has some additional features such as tagging bookmarks.

A Word of Caution

Add-ons are a great feature of Firefox and are one of the reasons to use it over other browsers however there are some things to bear in mind. Add-ons are created by the community and so the quality can be variable. The ones I have listed are popular and seem quite stable but that can’t be said for all. Also it is not advisable to use too many Add-ons. More than 10 or so will cause Firefox to slow down.

If you are having problems with Firefox try disabling all Add-ons and then re-enable one at a time. You will probably find one of the Add-ons are responsible.

Summary

So that’s it. Five Add-ons I find useful. These are the ones that have stayed part of my system when many others have come and gone. Which Add-ons would you recommend?

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4 thoughts on “Firefox Add-ons

  1. Good article, good reviews, Jim. There are one or two there I had not heard of, I will check ’em out.

    Thanks for posting this.
    Adam

      • Jim I am not as heavy a user as you seem to be, the only other ones you haven’t listed are Cooliris and English (Australian) dictionary. The latter essential, the former nice to have.

        Best wishes
        Adam

    • Hi Adam

      I don’t think of the Aussie dictionary as it is installed with Firefox on Fedora. I do have to make sure it is selected though.

      Cooliris looks interesting. I’m going to have a play with it. Thanks for the recommendation.

      Jim

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