One of the best features of Firefox is its support for extensions. Extensions are kind of like WinAMP plug-ins; they allow you to do everything from tweaking some of Firefox’s built-in annoyances to enhancing your web browsing experience by making life just a few clicks shorter. I’ve been meaning to post this list for some time, but thanks to the new site (and one helpful Firefox extension), it’s much easier to do now. Here’s a short list of some of my favorite Firefox extensions:
AdBlock Plus – My absolutely favorite extension, AdBlock Plus not only blocks 99% of the ads you’d see in your web browser, it also re-renders the page without any kind of placeholders for the ads. I’ve gotten so used to this extension that it’s almost jarring to use a browser on someone else’s computer. While the original AdBlock extension was great, AdBlock Plus has automatic updating of block lists built right in, so you always have the latest and greatest protection against annoying ads!
Copy Plain Text – This simple extension removes all HTML formatting from items copied to your clipboard. So instead of copying the text from a web page and clicking Edit > Paste Special to paste the data into a Word document, you can just highlight the data you want on the web page, right-click and choose “Copy as plain text”.
DownThemAll – A favorite for heavy downloaders, DownThemAll allows you to download every image or multimedia file on a page, or every image or multimedia file linked from a page. So if you’re at a website that has a multiple pages of Angelina Jolie pictures, you can just right-click somewhere on the page and select “DownThemAll” instead of clicking on each thumbnail, waiting for the full-sized image to load, then right-clicking and doing a regular save. DownThemAll even has the ability to add your own filters, so if you want to download a page of music files, but they’re in .OGG format instead of .MP3, you can easily add your own filter for .OGG files.
DownloadManagerTweak – A simple extension that allows you to tweak Firefox’s download manager (DM). I use it to force Firefox’s DM to open in a new tab instead of its own pop-up window.
FireFTP – Adds a fully-functional FTP client to Firefox. This isn’t some “tacked-on” FTP support as in previous versions of Internet Explorer, it’s the real deal. It’s much easier to click on Tools > FireFTP from within Firefox than opening up a third-party client, plus you can even add a keyword entry for FireFTP. What’s not to love?
Firefox Extension Backup Extension – It has a klunky name, to be sure. That’s why it’s usually just referred to as FEBE. As you probably figured out from the name, FEBE backs up your Firefox extensions. It can back them up to a local or network drive, and it even backs them up as readily re-installable .xpi files. It also backs up your themes, bookmarks and other settings. You can also use FEBE with its “sister” extension Compact Library Extension Organizer (CLEO) to create a single .xpi file containing all of your extensions. CLEO is great for copying all your extensions to a new machine, or in business environments where administrators want to install a common Firefox “package” across an entire organization.
Firefox Showcase – Adds the ability to generate a page of thumbnails of all open Firefox tabs, so you can navigate through your open tabs visually… much like the “Quick Tabs” feature of Internet Explorer 7.
IE Tab – One of the handiest Firefox extensions ever, IE Tab adds a small browser icon to Firefox’s status bar. This icon normally shows the Firefox icon, but if you click on it, it will change to the Internet Explorer “e” and reload the page in IE. This is great for web developers that want to see how their sites look in both Firefox and IE, as well as for the occasional web page that only works in IE. A word of warning though: this extension has a nasty habit of reverting back to Firefox when you click on a link on a page in “IE mode”. So if you find that a page isn’t working in Firefox and click on IE Tab, the page will reload in IE. If you click a link on the page, IE Tab might load the page in IE, or it might revert back to Firefox. This can cause problems if you’re trying enter data (such as buying a book from Amazon or concert tickets from TicketMaster). IE Tab is great for single pages, but I’d use Internet Explorer proper for important stuff.
LinkAlert – This handy little extension changes the cursor in Firefox when you hover over a certain type of hyperlink. It was originally created solely for PDF links, because PDF files and Firefox traditionally haven’t gotten along very well. LinkAlert would change the Firefox icon from the default “hand” to a small PDF icon, to let you know that the link is for a PDF, so you might want to right-click and save the PDF to your desktop instead of letting Firefox try to open it (and probably crash). Since it first hit the scene, LinkAlert has been updated to include all kinds of icons, such as icons for music, image, compressed and script files.
RSS Editor – Adds a fully-functional RSS editor to Firefox. I used to use this to manually add\update\edit the old site’s RSS feed. It works a charm, but thankfully I don’t have to use it any more. RSS Editor has one cool feature – the ability to launch it in a sidebar or tab, or to float.
Save Image In Folder – I’ve saved the best for last! This is the handiest Firefox extension ever and my all-time favorite extension after AdBlock Plus. After you install this super-duper little extension, you choose one (or more) folders on your system (or a network drive) for downloading images. You then give each location a name, such as “Work Stuff”, “Cool Cars”, or (let’s be honest here) “Porn”. You then can right-click on any image and choose “Save Image In Folder” and choose one of the predefined destinations from the fly-out menu. It’s so simple and fast to use you’ll wonder why it’s not the default method of saving images in web browsers!