My Favorite Firefox Extensions

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

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.

Download Statusbar

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.

Tab Mix Plus

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.

Fission

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

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.

Power Tools

Here are some other extensions that don’t fit into the above category:

Greasemonkey

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.

iMacros for Firefox

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

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.

Operator

Operator exposes Microformats present on pages and makes it easy to work with them. A little handy now, but Firefox 3 will probably have this sort of functionality built right in.

Attention

Attention Recorder

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.

del.icio.us extension

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.

Web Development

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.

Firebug

Firebug is unbelievable. This tool has become invaluable in debugging CSS and JavaScript. You can easily see how styles cascade (or don’t) across your HTML elements and edit them on the fly to see how things look in the browser. It can also debug AJAX requests, something that has personally helped me in my Ruby on Rails projects.

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.

Web Developer

I’ve been using the Web Developer extension since 2004, and it has become an indispensable part of my web design toolkit. Some of its functionality is duplicated by Firebug, but there’s still a ton of other features there, including a “view generated source” option, which lets you view the HTML as it’s currently displayed in the browser window. This is one of those things that come in really handy when debugging AJAX and JavaScript that modify the Document Object Model after the page is actually downloaded from the server.

Html Validator

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.

Live HTTP Headers

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

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.

SEO For Firefox

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.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. (talking about Web Developer)

    …including a “view generated source” option, which lets you view the HTML as it’s currently displayed in the browser window

    Actually, all that option does is something that’s already included in Firefox – if you select part of a page, then right-click and use “View Selection Source”, it gives you the generated source in the same way. All WD does is an automated way to select the entire page and use “View Selection Source”. :)

    Having said that, I agree that Web Developer is an awesome, awesome tool. :D

  2. Ciaran:

    Thanks, I never realized that the View Selection Source feature gave the generated source!

    Jason

  3. I love Fission.
    I think that you will Love…

    CoolIris.

    This one saves me endless time

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