Whether you want to speed access to the Web sites you regularly visit, keep better tabs on your tabs, or protect your system from potentially dangerous active content, there's a Firefox extension ready to help you out. Jack Wallen shares his list of favorite time-saving, browser-enhancing add-ons.
One of the nicest aspects of Firefox is the ability to add extensions. And there are plenty to choose from. Some do little more than alter the aesthetics. But you'll find others out there that you can't browse without. No matter what your purpose in browsing, there is a killer-app extension just waiting for you. Let's take a look at my top 10 extensions.
Note: This information is also available as a PDF download.
#1: Morning Coffee
This extension allows you to set a group of Web sites that will open (each in its own tab) with the click of a button. This will save you from having to roam through your bookmarks (while drinking that first cup of wake-me-up in the morning) to view your favorite sites. And you don't have to limit yourself to personal browsing, either. I also use this extension to open up all the Web-based admin tools for sites I administer. You can even set sites up to open only on certain days (or every day). So news junkies or overworked administrators rejoice: This extension will make your browsing life a little easier.
This is one of the best tools for making sure your browsing experience is secure. With NoScript, you can disable active content from any site you don't trust. Unless you configure it to allow JaveaScript, Java, and other executable scripting to run from a site, NoScript will completely block the script, keeping you browser safe from known and unknown exploits. And don't think because you are using FireFox in Linux that you're perfectly safe! Use this extension regardless of platform.
If you're like me, you generally have a LOT of tabs open in Firefox. Sometimes this isn't a problem. But there are times when the tabs can get a bit overwhelming and need a bit of organization. To help with this, ColorfulTabs gives each open tab a different color, making it easier to distinguish between them. With this simple extension, you can color-code tabs either randomly or according to URL. You can also set tabs to fade. Another fun feature is that you can set a background image for tabs.
This helpful extension adds BBCode, HTML, and XHTML symbols and formatting to the context menu. BBCode also allows you to add up to 10 custom tags to your menu. This extension shows itself when you're in a forum and you right-click a text area where you can select the tag you want to add from the menu. This extension will make your forum work quite a bit easier, as well as faster.
This extension is invaluable to Bugzilla power users. With this extension, you will have a Bugzilla Chrome sidebar available which will readily show all bugs that relate to a bug list you have created. As of version 0.2, Buggybar works with all instances of Bugzilla.
I don't know about you, but I always set up my browsers to clear their cache at exit. But what about those times you want to clear the cache but not exit the browser? Instead of navigating through the menu structure, you can add this simple extension. It provides a button that gives you complete cache clearing with a single click.
Okay, this is not really a tool that will aid or better your browsing experience. In fact, this little extension will remind you how much time you spend browsing. I have found this little gem useful in a number of circumstances. Whether you are in need of a quick five-minute break from number crunching or you just need to know how much time you spend on a specific Web site, TimeTracker will keep track of how long you browse. What is nice about this is that the tool times across sessions. So when you close the browser, the timer stops, and when you open the browser back up, the timer starts again. You can reset the timer by right-clicking the status bar timer and selecting Reset.
This extension automates pretty much anything you do in Firefox. From opening up sites to filling out forms and even administration work -- you can automate it with iMacros. The iMacros extension has a sidebar that shows favorite macros. It also has a record feature that allows you to create macros by simply clicking Record, going through the motions of the macro to be created, and clicking Save. These macros can be as complex as you need them to be. When you want to run them, you simply navigate to the macro in the iMacros sidebar and click the Play button. The only downfall I have found with this tool is that you can't assign key combinations to run macros. Other than that, this extension is a must-have for power browsers.
This extension does one thing: It makes Firefox load pages faster. Speed of page loading can be increased by allowing simultaneous connections and prefetching. This extension is currently in the experimental stage because of the release of Firefox 3. To install it, you have to log into a Firefox account to download. The extension is worth the hassle. The speed increase is noticeable.
We all read blogs. From my TechRepublic Linux and Open Source blog to the countless other blogs available, we all read them daily. And this takes time. Instead of wasting time going to the blogs, let this handy extension fetch them for you. You do have to sign up for an account using this extension (they promise they won't spam you.) and you will be asked to install another sidebar (Stickies), which is not necessary. Once you have this installed, you just enter the blog URL, and BlogRovR will begin fetching the information for you. Warning: If you have NoScript installed, you have to allow the BlogRovR page to run scripts or it won't be able to fetch pages for you.
So that's my list of 10 extensions, from various categories, that will make your Firefox experience better. Some of these extensions are for power users and some are for everyone. What extensions have you found that make your daily browsing better?
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for Techrepublic and Linux.com. As an avid promoter/user of the Linux OS, Jack tries to convert as many users to open source as possible. His current favorite flavor of Linux is Bodhi Linux (a melding of Ubuntu and Enlightenment). When Jack isn't writing about Linux he is hard at work on his other writing career -- writing about zombies, various killers, super heroes, and just about everything else he can manipulate between the folds of reality. You can find Jack's books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Outnumbered in his house one male to two females and three humans to six felines, Jack maintains his sanity by riding his mountain bike and working on his next books. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website Get Jack'd.