The future is coming ready-or-not

A selection of Firefox extensions

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The last six months have seen the Mozilla Foundations Firefox browser achieve momentum among users. It’s share of users has gone over 10%, and it’s reaching 20% in Europe. A double figure share of the market makes it a realistic competitor to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and sites have started to react accordingly. Aside from security a key factor in it’s success is that Mozilla is very configurable. If you’re going to spend most of your day using a single application then you want it to closely match your needs: Firefox lets you add extensions to provide specific capabilities for your requirements.

Here’s a collection of extensions that I use every day. To install one visit the link and click on the filename for the extension. Mozilla may pop up a security box, if it does follow the instructions to permit that site to install files. After you’ve installed an extension you have to restart Mozilla so that the extension loads.

Avoid annoying adverts with Adblock
Adblock lets you block out those annoying adverts that make some webpages useless. By default Mozilla will block pop-up adverts but this extension goes even further. It does take some effort to configure properly but is well worth it. It’s also worth mentioning that blocking adverts is controversial – adverts are how sites pay for the content, so if enough people block adverts sites may not be able to pay their bills and could shutdown. I tend to block really annoying flashing adverts and leave context-sensitive or small and static ones alone. The Adblock site has more.

You’ve got new mail with Gmail Notifier
Webmail keeps me in contact wherever I am, and Google’s Gmail with it’s extensive feature set and generous storage allowance is my favourite. But it’s so annoying having to go to the web page and login every time to check if there’s new e-mail. There are a variety of ways you can be alerted to new mail, this extension is one of the best. It places a small envelope on the bottom bar of your browser window that when clicked takes you straight to your Gmail page. When you have new e-mail the icon changes colour or it can play a sound to alert you. Get the latest version directly.

Fasterfox for lightspeed browsing
The Fasterfox extension speeds up your browsing experience by configuring Firefox’s options for speed. Think of it as a tune-up for your browser. You can either use the defaults, or configure your own settings – and the little page load timer that it places in your status bar is cool.

Del.icio.us post
The Del.icio.us site transforms how you use bookmarks. Freed from your computer you can access them from any browser, share them with others and use tagging to sort or sift for associated sites. The Del.icio.us post extension adds a button making your bookmarks a click away. I’ve always loved the idea of Del.icio.us, but this extension lets me integrate it into my normal browsing – download it now!

Easy editing with Xinha Here
From blogs to forums I’m constantly responding to sites through a text box. This extension provides an easy to use HTML editor – it gives you full access to HTML wherever you use a textbox, and you can save your posts. You access the extension when you’re in a textbox by right clicking and activating the Xinha Here menu item. I’ve only just started using it, so far it’s been very useful for posting to my blog. You can get it here.

I’m also looking at Spellbound, and will post about Greasemonkey another time. All the extensions I use are popular so should be stable, I’ve used them all on Linux and Mac OS X. Have I missed any great ones, and what’s your favourite extension?

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Written by Steve George

January 17, 2006 at 14:42

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