Firefox and the power of extensions

To anyone out there that doesn't use Firefox, get it now. It's a giant leap over Internet Explorer and will improve your web browsing ten-fold.

To the people who are using Firefox, are you making full use of it by using Firefox Extensions?

If you have Firefox installed you really should investigate the power of their Extensions. Extensions are written by thousands of people around the web and allow you to add new features to Firefox at the click of a button. Visit the Firefox Add-ons site to browse through a myriad of extensions.

Extensions I Recommend

Ad Block Plus

This has become my favourite extension of all time. Ad Block Plus uses filters to block adverts from web pages that you visit. These filters are updated by other people around the web and keep adverts from molesting your eyes. Once you start using it you'll never go back – and when you browse the net on someone else's machine you'll be appalled at how many adverts plague your favourite sites.

Download "Ad Block Plus" –

N.B. Unfortunately Ad Block Plus can cause some problems on Vox, and you'll need to add Vox to your exception list – it's simple though, once you have ABP installed, open ABP preferences and add a filter. Copy and paste the following code: @@|http://* and this will prevent ABP from affecting anything in the Vox domain.

Filterset G
Filterset G is a companion to ABP, and is the best set of filter rules for ABP. It is updated frequently and once you have it installed you don't have to think about it again.

Download "Filterset G" –

Below are 2 screenshots of the Wired homepage. The one on the left has no ABP, the one on the right has ABP enabled. I'm sure there are worse sites out there, but it's a good example nonetheless of the power of ABP.


Tab Mix Plus
This is another extension that has just become a part of my everyday Firefox usage. TMP allows greater control over how the tabbed browsing works in Firefox. For example you can have multiple rows of tabs displayed, for those of us who have a lot of tabs open at the same time. It allows you to completely configure the way tabs behave. It also includes a much more detailed session manager, and a history of closed tabs, so if you've closed 8 tabs and realise that you didn't want to close the first one, with one click you can restore that tab. There are many more functions that it offers, but I think if you download this one, you probably won't go back.

Download "Tab Mix Plus" –

Download Statusbar
Another nifty extension, which makes a very minor but welcome change to the way Firefox works. Usually when you download a file from a website, the Firefox download window pops up and displays the progress of the download. This functionality always annoyed me a little. This extension changes that behaviour and moves your downloads to a new status bar at the bottom of a currently active Firefox window. Here you can see a simple overview of your download, and if you hover over the download you get much more detailed information about the download progress. Finally, when the download is completed, right clicking on the item gives you a variety of options for your next step.

Download "Download Statusbar" –

Fire Title
This is a very small extension, but I have found it quite useful. All Fire Title does is allows you to change the way the browser title is displayed. It allows you to attach your own name to each browser window. So for example I usually have 2 Firefox browser windows open. One is for work, one for general browsing. So with Fire Title I can name these windows "WORK" and "NOT WORK". This means that when I am alt-tabbing to switch between open windows, I now instantly see which Firefox window I want to activate. It also allows you to specify how many characters are displayed from a website title – I often find that website title's are annoyingly long, so this is a nice bit of extra functionality. And there is a handy shortcut "Ctrl + ;", which allows you instantly name your windows.

There are so many more extensions I could go on about, but a lot of them relate more specifically to my life as a web designer. I'll write another post about these extensions in the near future – but it will require a bit more work and detail.

In the meantime, if you have any Firefox extensions not related to web development that you can't live without, let me know about them in the comments!

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