One of my friends recently asked me what I’m using for extensions in Firefox 2, then suggested I share my list with the world. So, that’s exactly what I’m doing here. I’ll split them up by category so you can find the ones that apply to you.
Improving the Firefox Interface
Even though Firefox is amazing out of the box (or, more accurately, after the download), I use a few extensions to fill in some gaps.
Adblock Plus blocks so many web ads, it’s really tough browsing on a computer where it’s not installed. It comes with a set of filter subscriptions that will automatically stay up-to-date so you only have to see the ads you really want to. Highly recommended.
Firefox’s default download manager annoys the heck out of me, but Download Statusbar fixes this. Just as its title says, it displays a download status bar at the bottom of the browser window to let you know when your files are completely retrieved.
I’m a huge fan of tabbed browsing, so I appreciate the extras offered by the Tab Mix Plus extension. Among other things, it color codes unread tabs, gives you the download status for each one, and lets you lock and protect tabs so you won’t close them accidentally.
One of the nice little touches I appreciate in Apple’s Safari browser is the address bar that doubles as a progress indicator. The Fission extension’s only job is to add this feature to Firefox, and it does it well.
ErrorZilla replaces the default Firefox error page with a set of options, including going to a Coral Cache version of the page (if it’s available), visiting the Wayback Machine, or doing a trace route or ping to see if the web server is down. It comes in handy every so often.
Here are some other extensions that don’t fit into the above category:
Greasemonkey is a little hard to describe. It lets you create little scripts that can modify pretty much any webpage right before it’s rendered in Firefox. You don’t have to actually write scripts yourself (there are tons available for download), though there’s a good guide available for free in case you get adventurous.
One of my favorite user scripts is one that creates a “smart” subscribe subscribe button for every page that has an RSS feed. If I’m already subscribed to that feed in Google Reader, it displays a little check mark letting me know I’ve already got it. A nice feature, especially when you have a couple of hundred subscriptions.
To be honest, I have the iMacros extension installed, but haven’t done much with it yet. I like the idea a lot though. It lets you write macros for a web page that automate repetitive tasks.
PwdHash makes it easy to create site-specific passwords, giving you a higher level of security than if you just use a single password everyone.
Right up front, I admit this one is pretty geeky. There’s a small movement going on right now advocating the ownership of your personal attention data made as you use the web. I’ll write more about this at some point in the future.
For now though, Attention Recorder captures your clickstream and browsing history in a file on your computer which you can do whatever you want with. You can also choose to upload this same data to a trusted 3rd party such as Root Vault for storage and analysis.
I’ve been storing my bookmarks and links of interest to my del.icio.us account for almost two years now instead of saving them in Firefox. Not only are they now easier to search and available from any computer, there’s also the side benefit of sharing them with everyone else. I’m just that nice of a guy!
The del.icio.us extension makes it really easy to tag and save pages as you browse, and gives you quick access to your account when you need it.
As you probably know, I’ve been big into web design and development for a while now. There are some awesome tools available for Firefox that makes the process easier. Here are some of my favorites.
If you do any sort of web design or programming, do yourself a favor and download Firebug. It’s free, but it’s one extension I’d actually pay money for.
I’ve become used to regularly validating my HTML documents during development, and the Html Validator extension makes this process automatic. Instead of manually going out to the W3C validator service, this extension will do the validation locally on your computer right after the page is rendered in Firefox. This can save a lot of time over the course of your project.
I’ll make one small note on this extension: I have run into some cases where this extension says a page has valid markup, but where the official validator picks out some problems. Even so, it’s still a good first line defense.
Useful mainly when doing web development/programming, Live HTTP Headers lets you take a peek at the conversation going on between your computer and the web servers it gets content from. You probably won’t use it on a daily basis, but it comes in handy in special cases.
Professor X lets you take a look at the content of a page’s “head” section without viewing the source. Nothing earth shattering here, but still a nice option to have.
The SEO For Firefox extension adds a bunch of search engine optimization links and resources that’ll give you better insight into a page’s search rankings, along with a bunch of other useful info.
Well, there you go. I hope you found one or two tools that can help you out. If you’ve got a favorite extension, please let me know about it in the comments.