Things I use: Firefox extensions

Stuss asked why she should bother switching to Firefox from Explorer. Apart from speed, moving away from the proprietary Microsoft platform, and security there’s one thing Firefox really has going for it. Extensibility. You can pretty much turn Firefox into whatever you want it to be. Thanks to the power of extensions.

But when it comes to extensions for your Firefox experience there’s a lot of bloatware out there. Stuff that will bog you down and make your Firefox experience reminiscent of your Explorer days speedwise – only with slightly more class.

Here are my 10 favourite Add-ons

  1. Firebug – a little web development tool that lets you edit the CSS or HTML of whatever page you’re on. Great for stealing other people’s ideas and code – and great for debugging that page you made that just won’t work right.
  2. Fireuploader – a nice drag and drop interface that lets you bulk upload images and files to a host of popular filesharing platforms and social networks.
  3. Better GReader – Google Reader is awesome. This little add on makes it more awesome – reducing the screen real estate taken up by pointless things – and enhancing the GReader experience. Oh, and it adds a really incredibly nice subscribe interface to any page with an RSS feed. It’s beautiful. I just click once to subscribe, rather than jumping through the obligatory three or four hoops it normally takes.
  4. Video Download Helper – There are a bunch of sites that will download a flash video from YouTube. FLV files aren’t all that exciting though – this add-on goes a step further, downloading the video and converting it to your preferred format.
  5. CoolIris – This started off as PicLens – it’s a funky image browser that brought albums to life in a pseudo 3D interface.
  6. TwitterBar – there are a lot of useful social networking plugins that bring your Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon etc profiles to your fingertips. Facebook is banned at work – so TwitterBar is my profile status updating solution. I type my status in the address bar, click submit, and Bob’s your uncle. That required activating the Twitter application on Facebook too.
  7. Xoopit – Xoopit is a Gmail specific plug-in that makes tracking images and attachments in your inbox a breeze.
  8. Flashgot and DownThemAll – two download enhancers battling it out for supremacy. Both are good.
  9. AdBlock Plus – Make ads a thing of the past, I’m curious to try AddArt – which replaces advertisements with artworks from a curated database.
  10. British English Dictionary – if like me you hate your browser changing s to z. Or suggesting that you do. Then the British English Dictionary will save you untold pain.

Honourable mention – the only reason this didn’t make the grade is that it’s not strictly speaking a plug-in. It’s a bookmark. Google Reader’s “Note in Reader” bookmark has pretty much ended my dalliance with I can now bookmark things in Reader on the run – and they appear for all to see in my daily links posts. I really don’t venture outside of Reader that much anymore.

I’m proud of you

47% of my visitors use Firefox, a further 15% use Chrome. That’s more than half not using Explorer. But I’m still going to install this plugin. If you’re one of the 28% still using Explorer do yourself a favour and get a new browser.

UPDATE: I edited the plugin to tell people to get Firefox rather than Explorer. I don’t like Explorer at all – get Firefox here.

CSS and desist

CSS is confusing. I just saw my new design in Internet Explorer 7 for the first time – and it still didn’t work. Oh for a standards compliant Microsoft… oh well, I think I fixed it by essentially ditching the transparency setting for Explorer. Still, my design looks better in Chrome and Firefox. I doubt that will be the tipping point for anyone contemplating switching browsers. Any Explorer readers out there finding this easier to read? Let me know please – older versions than IE7 may still have problems.

Read this post – free

Mozilla – the development company that brought you such products as Firefox 1, 2 and 3 – has performed an interesting test on content writing for websites . The general rule is that a link should essentially ask to be clicked. Your link should be compelling and descriptive. Basically you shouldn’t ask people to “click here” for more information. Anyway, Mozilla ran a test where their Firefox 3 page would present alternate options in the download button text – “Download now – free” and “Try Firefox 3” and the first option was “significantly” more popular (well a 10.07% conversion rate as opposed to 9.73%). So there you go. Boring reading – but I hope the title was compelling enough to bring you here… and that’s what counts.


Thanks to my father I’ve spent the last few weeks (actually, probably my whole life) discovering my inner geek – thanks mostly to –  which I mentioned a few weeks ago.

Anyway, in that short time i’ve significantly improved my “internet” experience through Firefox add-ons. If you’re not using Firefox 3 – you should be. Firefox’s strength is that it’s incedibly customisable. So here are my 5 favourite add ons:

1. Better Gmail 2.0 – makes Gmail more awesome by scripting out all the ugly, pointless stuff and applying funky skins.
2. Firebug – a funky little design tool that has been particularly useful for me and my wedmastery at work – it allows you to look at the elements that make up a page (design and content) and edit/tweak them in real time – any site, any time – which makes tweaking your own site, and stealing things from others a real breeze.
3. Piclens – a very, very cool image gallery viewing plug in. get it. Seriously cool.
4. Clipmarks – I’ve used this for a few posts lately – if you see something you like on a webpage you can highlight it and send it straight to your blog. Awesomeness. 
5. Ctrl + Tab – allows flicking between tabs within the browser in a breeze. I used to hit alt+tab trying to switch between tabs and would find myself increasingly frustrated when it changed windows on me. But no more.

Honourable mentions go to Delicious Bookmarks – which now make up the “what I’m reading” links in the sidebar, Facebook’s toolbar – which keeps you up to date on Facebooky goodness, if I could get it to work I’d love the FireNes plug in that brings about 1000 Nintendo Entertainment System games into your browser. I’d also recommend a number of plug ins that allow downloading from YouTube – but I’d have to pick the best.

I’m using the AeroFox skin in full screen mode and I feel like I’m in the future right now. There’s also a program out there that reskins Windows XP into Windows Vista like goodness – all the nice design elements without the performance sapping components.

I’ll probably put links up to all of these at some point – but right now I have to go. Farewell.

Scroll to Top