Igniting the Web

Get Firefox!

UPDATE: All of the extensions have been checked and are compatible with Firefox 1.0.

Thanks to Adrian and Thom for some additional suggestions.

I’ve recently introduced a couple of people to the Firefox browser. I have to admit to getting quite a buzz watching their faces light up as you show them the basic features (efficient popup blocker, tabbed browsing, excellent FIND function) and how fast it is compared to IE.

The next thing I do is show them the extensions I have installed, and I figured some of you guys might appreciate these too – you HAVE switched to Firefox, haven’t you?

On with the extensions then, and I should note that there are many many more extensions available, and that the following are the ones I’ve found most useful over the past couple of months:

  • Tab Preferences – this is the second Tab extension I’ve used and is very easyto use (the other is called TabBrowser Extensions, does much more but is a bit confusing). I’d recommend this one for most people, an excellent way to get to grips with tabbed browsing as well.
  • Paste and Go – Subtle one this. Copy a URL, right-click the address bar and select “Paste and Go”. Saves you pasting THEN bashing the enter key to load the page*. Simple but you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.
  • Gmail Notifier – If you have a GMail account, this is the better of the notifier extensions. Nicely located in the statusbar too.
  • ForecastFox – RENAMED from WeatherFox. Adds a configurable weather display, many options.
  • Statusbar clock – currently being updated for 1.0 – simple enough I think. Configurable display. Time and date in the statusbar.
  • FoxyTunes – For hardcore surfers this one. If you just CAN’T focus away from your browser, then use the highly configurable statusbar controls to do so. Supports just about every media player I’ve heard of.
  • Web Developer – OK, maybe not EVERYONE needs this one but if you do anything even remotely related to web design then install this. I can’t really say more than that as it has so many features I’d be here all day.
  • Bookmark Synchronizer – excellent tool if you have your own FTP space. Easy way to move bookmarks between two PCs.
  • Sage RSS Feed Reader – an RSS Feed Reader that sits in your sidebar.
  • Session Saver – Remembers what tabs you had open, and reopens them when you reopen your browser.
  • BugMeNot – Bypass compulsory web registrations, useful if you view a lot of news online (NYTimes is the best worst example)
  • Spellbound – a spell checker. Simple.
  • IEView – some pages REQUIRE Internet Explorer (IE). This extension allows you to view them through Firefox.
  • Tab Clicking Options – (scroll down the page) – adds … er.. Tab Clicking Options (double-click to close and so on). NOT compatible with TabBrowser Extensions.
  • TinyURL – lets you create tinyurl links from a web page.
  • Foxylicious – Integrates your del.icio.us bookmarks into your browser bookmarks.
  • delicious: – Save stuff to del.icio.us.
  • Livelines – Add RSS feeds to Bloglines or Sage with the RSS icon on the status bar.
  • JustBlogIt – Allows easy right-click posting to a weblog.
  • GooglePreview – Inserts preview images (thumbnails) of web sites, Amazon products and stock charts into the Google and yahoo.com search results pages.
  • User Agent Switcher – Adds a menu to switch the user agent of the browser. Handy for developers.
  • MiniT – Allows you to drag and drop tabs.
  • DuplicateTab – Allows you to duplicate a tab to a new tab or to a new window,. Also allows you to merge different windows in one window.
  • blanklast – Makes the last tab blank when closing it, and prevents the tab bar from hiding.

* Or you can add a “Go” button (a la IE) by selecting the ‘View’ menu then ‘Toolbars’ and then click ‘Customise’. From the window which opens, drag the ‘Go’ button to the toolbar next to the address bar.

Then there are Live Bookmarks. Sort of like a site monitoring tool, if you see the RSS button appear in the statusbar (if you are using Firefox you should see one now), click it and select the RSS Feed to use. Now when you select that Bookmark from the bookmark menu, you should be able to go directly to any of the last 15 entries of this site. Clever stuff. Not quite an RSS Reader, but a handy tool to quickly see if there is new content.

Top Tip: To remove an entry from a ‘remembered’ dropdown list, highlight the entry, and press SHIFT+DELETE.

So there you go, everytime I come across a minor irritation with this browser I find someone has already created an extension, many of which will migrate into the product itself. So, aside from people curtailed by their corporate IT policies, why haven’t YOU switched yet?

UPDATE: Maybe this articles will help you decide: Firefox 1.0 explained is a very good article which explains everything in clear, simple language. If you aren’t sure what a browser IS, then head here. I’d also point out Why I don’t recommend Firefox which makes some very valid points and, contrary to the title, promotes the best points of Firefox very well.

FURTHER THOUGHTS: If you work between to computers and use Sage as your RSS reader, I recommend you also use install the Bookmark Synchronizer. Sage stores the feed addresses as bookmarks, meaning you only need to add a new feed once. The next time you sync your bookmarks the new feed will be pulled to your other computer and available via Sage.

I should point out that there are some websites that do not function correctly when you use Firefox. Unfortunately it means you will need to have a copy of Internet Explorer available. This is not the fault of Firefox, but because those websites are using code that only Internet Explorer can understand. In other words, they’ve not been designed f
or everyone to use. Only Internet Explorer users can access those sites properly.

It is also noticeable that there is a new version of Opera, which has been simplified a lot. I’ve tried it, but still prefer Firefox. Internet Explorer – Your time is up!