Firefox · January 4, 2007 3

Essential Firefox Extensions/Add-ons …I couldn’t live without

I’ve been a die-hard fan of Firefox since I stumbled upon the browser ages ago – when it hadn’t matured to version 1 yet. I probably started using it around version 0.4 or 0.5. Despite the initial bugs & teething problems, I somehow stuck to it very loyally all these years through – mainly because of the immensely extensible nature of the browser. The ease of installing add-ons/extensions combined with the millions of cool & useful extensions readily available out there make it a true behemoth to contend with.

Here’s a list of my most favourite extensions or Add-Ons (as they’re now known as), most of which I’ve been using since their inception. Most of these are general purpose oriented and hence should be useful to everyone. The order of listing doesn’t reflect my personal rating of their usefulness in any way.

01. Adblock Plus

By far one of the best Firefox extensions ever helping you to get rid of the scum of the internet – advertisements. Adblock Plus provides you several methods of getting rid of those annoying ads which take longer to load than the page itself.

Once installed, it shows up as a small icon beside the address bar with which you can set various options related to Ad blocking. Apart from that, the primary function of this button is to toggle off/on ALL ads on a particular domain that match your Ad Filters.

Ad Filters can be manually set by yourself or automatically imported/updated from certain sites like EasyList so you needn’t bother about adding the filters for all the major ad networks.

02. Bookmark Backup

Don’t get misled by the name of this extension – while it was primarily targeted for backing up your bookmarks automatically to a separate folder (every time you closed Firefox), this ultra-cool extension backs up almost every single Firefox settings that you ever wished to backup. That includes your browser History, Passwords, Personal Dictionary, Window Layouts, User Files, Forms History, Cookies, Permissions, Download History, Search Engines, Preferences, Security Databases etc.

The backup takes place automatically while shutting down Firefox and backups for each day are placed in a separate folder named after the day of the week. In future, if you need to reinstall everything on your system, you can revert back to the settings of any particular day you wish to.

This is a must have extension.

03. Performancing

This is a blogger’s extension and can be a great help in creating posts offline. This allows you to create/edit posts locally in a WYSIWYG blog editor and post to WordPress, MovableType or Blogger blogs directly.

Apart from that it displays blog Metrics tracked by Performancing itself as well as Technorati & tagging & tracking tools.

04. Fasterfox

This extension allows you to tweak performance and network settings such as simultaneous connections, pipelining, cache, DNS cache, and initial paint delay.

There’s an enhanced Pre-fetching mechanism that greatly boosts page-load time, by silently loading and caching all of the links on the page you are browsing during idle phases.

05. FireFTP

If you carry out a bunch of downloads (through http as well as ftp) and have been bugged by switching between your browser and ftp client to check on the download status – this is the extension for you.

FireFTP acts as a full-fledged cross-platform FTP client that sits right inside a tab along with your pages. Also included are advanced features such as directory comparison, syncing directories while navigating, SSL encryption, file hashing etc.

06. FlashGot

Everyone uses a Download Manager these days to speed up downloads or resume broken ones. These really helpful utilities sometimes fail to capture the download link properly from certain websites. FlashGot acts as a download URL redirection service in such cases and helps the Download Managers to capture the URL successfully.

Apart from that, it helps you download multiple links or all the links in a certain page with a single click. This extension also offers a Build Gallery functionality which helps to collect in a single page serial movies and images scattered over several pages, somewhat like the picture downloaders.

FlashGot works in tandem with most of the popular download managers. If you’re searching for a reliable & free download manager, try FlashGet.

07. GMarks

If you use Google Bookmarks to keep a track of your favourite sites, look no further. This is the perfect extension for you, that’ll automatically add sites you bookmark through Firefox straight to your Google Bookmarks account. GMarks helps you synchronise & manage your bookmarks with Google Bookmarks.

GMarks appears in the form of a sidebar that helps your manage and access your bookmarks as well as the GMarks toolbar for fast access to important bookmarks. A cool feature is Quick Search (Home+Home) to find bookmarks like the Google Desktop Ctrl+Ctrl. It allows nested labels and includes a search box in the sidebar to search your bookmarks with Google. It searches not only the bookmarks’ details, but also the content on their pages.

GMarks allows easy migration to and from Google Bookmarks. Firefox bookmarks can be directly imported to Google and your Google Bookmarks can be exported to a bookmarks.htm file for use with Firefox. GMarks is completely separate from your Firefox bookmarks and does not remove or hide them. The bookmarks can be added either to Google or Firefox separately, or both together, using the standard Firefox Bookmark window.

08. Google Pagerank Status

This is a handy extension to display the current pagerank of any site you’re visiting in the status bar of Firefox. It appears as a small section in the status bar with a number indicating the pagerank as well as a green graphical bar indicating the rank. Right-clicking on it toggles the pagerank calculation.

The extension uses an algorithm that calculates a checksum and sends a query to Google, displaying the result as the pagerank (similar to GoogleBar).

09. Google Preview

This is another cool extension that inserts preview images (thumbnails) of web sites and Amazon products into the Google and Yahoo search results pages. You can specify the number of previews to be shown per page.

10. Google Notebook

This extension is available directly from Google Labs in conjunction with Google Notebook. Google Notebook is a great tool to collect and organise clips from various web-sites you visit. It is particularly helpful for amassing research material.

You can add clippings of text, images and links from web pages to your Google Notebook without ever leaving your browser window. Multiple notebooks can be created which can be further divided into sections. Notes can be dragged-and-dropped to stay organized. The best part is that the notebooks can be accessed from anywhere as long as you’ve an internet connection. They can even be shared with other users by declaring them public.

The Notebook extension sits in your status bar and allows you to add selected parts of web-sites to your notebook with a single click.

11. IE Tab

This is an extension primarily meant for Web-developers and allows you to render pages using the Internet Explorer engine inside Firefox tabs. You can easily see how your webpage is displayed in IE with just one click and then switch back to Firefox. There’s absolutely no need to fire up IE and viewing the page in it.

12. McAfee SiteAdvisor

For those who didn’t know, McAfee – the maker of the popular McAfee Antivirus offers this fantastic free tool that warns you of any malicious site you might be visiting. This one too sits in your status bar and turns green/yellow/red depending on the site you’re at giving you an indication about the kind of content/downloads available at the site.

Clicking on the icon gives you an option to view the reasons as to why the site’s safe or harmful and shows a link-map (how many safe or malicious sites it links to), information about spammy emails from the site as well as comments by other users.

According to me, this is another of the must haves.

13. VideoDownloader

For those who collect video clips from sites like YouTube, Google, Metacafe, iFilm, Dailymotion etc. this extension makes your life a breeze. Instead of manually hunting the video URL from the page source, this tool will present you with a list of all the embedded videos on a page and allow you to perform single-click downloads.

VideoDownloader add a small icon on the status bar at the bottom of your firefox window, and a toolbar button. Just click that and download the video you are watching.

14. BBCodeXtra or BBCode

If you’re one of those people who browse & post at various forums on the net and are familiar with BBCodes – these extensions prove to be extremely helpful. Both the extensions add a context menu with new commands to insert BBCode/Html/XHtml codes in an easy and fast way.

Both BBCodeXtra and BBCode have the same basic set of functionalities – but I prefer BBCode over the former as it allows you to add in your own BBCodes.

However, one minor problem with BBCode is that the author seems to have discontinued updating of the extension and hence it will install properly on only upto Firefox 1.5. If you’re familiar with extension development, you can simply unpack the extension and set the maxVersion to 2.0.* in the install.rfd file. Then simply repack and install the extension and your job’s done.

That’s it for now.. I guess. If you know of/use any other extension(s) regularly that you find really helpful, do leave a comment 🙂