I use a number of extensions (a.k.a add-ons) in Firefox to customize my browsing experience. Many of them are so useful that I can’t imagine browsing without them. This is one reasons why I rarely use Internet Explorer! Here is my list of Firefox Extensions currently installed.
- Better Gmail: I use this primary to force Gmail to use secure https sessions and to be able to skin Gmail to a sparser, cleaner look and feel.
- Colorful Tabs: Colors the tabs. Makes the window visually appealing and easier to find the tab you are looking for.
- Cooliris Previews: I use this very often. This extensions shows a small icon when you mouseover links. If you click on the icon it opens that link in a small popup window. As soon as you move the mouse away the popup disappears automatically. This allows you to check out what is behind the link without actually clicking it. This is very useful in situations where the page has many links and you have to click on each of them to find something you are looking for. I wish it worked even more faster!
- Customize Google: This extensions has a number of features that allows you to tweak Google search, Gmail and other Google sites. Some of the things I use it for: removing ads, rewriting links to point directly to the images during Google Image Search. I suggest you visit the homepage for this extension to discover its many other features.
- Del.icio.us: There are many extensions that support del.icio.us bookmarks. I use the “classic” one, now called “Del.icio.us Buttons”. This adds two buttons in your main Firefox toolbar. One, called “tag”, opens a popup that you use to save the curent page as a del.icio.us bookmark. The other button opens your del.icio-us page. This is a very very useful extension if you are a heavy del.icio.us user like me (I stopped bookmarking on the browser long time ago).
- DownThemAll: This is a download accelerator and download manager that supports pause and resume. It really speeds up your downloads and also allows you to download multiple things from a page in one shot without having to click on each one separately.
- Gmail Notifier: This extension adds a small icon on the status bar at the bottom of the firefox window. It checks your gmail account and pops/lights up when there is a new gmail and shows unread count. First, you need to click on the icon to give it your gmail userid/password. The best thing about this extension is it can monitor multiple gmail accounts. (I found a new extension called “Webmail Notifier” that claims to handle multiple webmail accounts like Yahoo, Gmail, Windows Live Mail etc. I haven’t use it yet, but if you use more than one of these webmail accounts regularly, this extension might be more useful to you)
- GreaseMonkey: If you dont know what Greasemonkey is, head over here. This extension allows you to run small scripts that alter the pages you visit in small and useful ways. There are hundreds of scripts available for customizing most popular sites. You can download them here. I am not a heavy greasemonkey user. I use it mainly to customize Gmail in small ways – show coversation previews, saved searches, integrate Gmail and Google Reader, few extra keyboard macros, coloring Gmail Labels (this has become a builtin feature in Gmail, so there is no need for this script anymore).
- HashColoredTabs+: This extension gives each site (that doesn’t have its own website icon) a colored icon in the location bar and all tabs pulldown. It helps you find the tab you want if you had a lot of tabs! I dont think this extension is all that useful given that most sites have their own icons. I have had it for a while and never bothered too uninstall it since its pretty unobstrusive.
- PDF Download: A very useful extension if you deal with PDF files. Whenever you click on a pdf file link, it pops up a window that allows you to do three things with that file – download it, open it outside Firefox and show it a html. The popup is optional. You can set it to do any of these 3 actions by default instead of showing the popup. The extension has multiple options that lets you control which viewer to open the file in, where to open the html file (same/new tab/window) and so on.
- ReadItLater: A recently found extension. It allows you to save pages of interests to read later. It helps eliminate the clutter of bookmarks or tabs with pages to read. When you come across a page or link that you want to read later, click on the ReadItLater button on the toolbar or righ-click and choose “Read this page later”/”Read this link later”. These pages/links get added to a reading list that show up as a pulldown in the button in the toolbar. Whenever you want to go back to the reading list, pull down this list from the button and pick the page you want.
- SwitchProxy Tool: This extension is useful only if you have to switch between proxies. If you login to your work using a VPN Connection for example, typically you have to switch proxies before you can browse. At my work, there are multiple proxy servers located at various locations across the world. I use this extension to switch between using no proxies (when I am not on a VPN connection) to using one of my work proxies. The extensions uses a piece of the status bar realestate and you can switch between proxies with one right click. Its a very convenient thing if you have to deal with proxies. Otherwise its unnecessary.
- Session Manager: This extension saves the state of all your Firefox windows and tabs either automatically or when Firefox crashes. It can save multiple sessions, and you can even manually save sessions. You can restore any previously saved session (all the windows and tabs that were open at that time) when you start Firefox or even after Firefox is open. Other than the typical use of restoring your sessions when the browser crashes, I use it all the time as a handy “temporary bookmark”. Many times I have a bunch of tabs open that I want to go back to at a later time (usually when I know I have to reboot or shutdown my machine or kill Firefox), but don’t want to bookmark it permanently, I use Session Manager to save the state manually. If all you want is to be able to restore a session after a browser crash, you don’t need this extension. Firefox has a built in feature to restore the session after a crash.
- Undo Closed Tab: How many times have you closed a tab and then realized an instant later that you want to go back to it again. This is where this extension is a lifesaver. It allows you to re-open all the tabs you closed (during the current session) one by one. Unfortunately you can’t pick which tab you want to re-open. It only restores them one by one in the reverse order of closure.
What extensions can’t you live without? Let me know in the comments.