My Flypaper Mind Brenden Schaaf's opinions, ideas, comments, rantings, & minutiae

17Dec/090

My favorite Firefox add-ons

firefoxI'll admit that this post is largely self-serving.  Having rebuilt two WindowsXP machines (one of them twice) in the past week along with installing Windows 7 on my Toshiba NB205 Netbook, I am tired of trying to keep track of the add-ons that I love every time I install Firefox.  Perhaps someday Xmarks or a product like it will synchronize these things across multiple installations, but counting my home PC, laptop, netbook, work PC, etc. I've ended up with quite an array of different add-ons on each machine.  With any luck, by listing the best ones here along with links, I will be able to more easily manage these things -- and if it benefits you as well, that's great!

So here, in no particular order other than my ability to remember them, are my favorite add-ons for my favorite browser, Firefox:

  1. Xmarks
    • I wrote at length about Xmarks back in May.  Briefly, it is a way to synchronize your bookmarks (and passwords if you choose) across multiple Firefox installations.  In the scenario I mentioned above about installing a fresh version of Firefox on a new (or rebuilt) PC, all that is needed to have all your bookmarks is to install this add-on and enter your Xmarks username and password and the bookmarks are downloaded from the Xmarks server to your new machine.  All icons are maintained as the order and foldering structure present on your other machines.
    • Download Link: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2410
  2. Adblock Plus
    • I've sung the praises in-depth of Adblock Plus before.  Disregarding whatever moral issues there might be to blocking ads on sites that are otherwise free, this add-on will make your browsing experience faster and less cluttered.  There are very few times that I've had to disable Adblock Plus due to "false positives" but it has happened on a couple sites.  Even so, turning it off is as simple as clicking the icon in the status bar and choosing from the menu.
    • Download Link: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1865
  3. Forecastfox
  4. Download Statusbar
    • Normally when you choose to download a file, Firefox pops up a separate window to show the download status and from which you can launch the file when the download is complete.  This is interesting behavior given that one of the primary reasons many people first adopted Firefox was because of the pop-up blocker that other browsers lacked.  With this add-on, you can eliminate the extra pop-up window and instead monitor and execute downloads from the Firefox status bar.
    • Download Link: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/26
  5. Greasemonkey
    • This add-on is different from others in that by itself it does nothing.  Instead, you have to download (or create) Greasemonkey scripts (there are thousands) to make it do whatever it is you desire.  A more lengthy post I wrote in May provides more details, but having Greasemonkey is like putting your browser on steroids.  Just like there are add-ons for Firefox I find it hard to live without, there are Greasemonkey scripts that I depend on heavily as well.  Many of those are listed in the post from May, but I'll update the list via a new post soon.
    • Download Link: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/748
  6. Greasefire
  7. The Camelizer
    • CamelCamelCamel.com used to have a Greasemonkey script that worked on Amazon so that you could see historical prices for a given item without having to visit the main CamelCamelCamel site.  They have no released a Firefox add-on that does much the same thing except that it now also functions on NewEgg and Best Buy.  This is a great way to know if that deal you are eyeing is really a deal and you also have the ability to set price alerts so that you'll receive an email when the price drops below a certain point.  If you enjoy shopping online, this is a must-have add-on.
    • Download Link: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/14392
  8. TinyURL Generator
  9. Fission
    • Download Link: I discovered this add-on when I first got a netbook.  Screen real estate is a premium on a small screen and I wanted to turn off the status bar at the bottom of the screen but I missed having the progress bar that shows how much of a page has downloaded.  This add-on combines the address bar with the download progress meter at the top of the screen.
    • Download Link: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1951
  10. Personal Menu
16Aug/090

Firefox Add-on: Personal Menu

Having used my Toshiba NB205 netbook for a few weeks now, I find myself wanting to eek out every available pixel that I can for useful purposes.  At a maximum resolution of 1020 x 600, I find the width of most webpages to be satisfactorily displayed, but the height is limiting.  This is especially true when browser menus, toolbars, status bars, etc. take up valuable vertical space.  While it is true that using the "kiosk mode" while browsing ( also called "Full Screen" & can be accessed by F11 key) is one solution and hiding things like the status bar can help as well, that forces things like the search box and address bar to be hidden as well and I miss having the status bar available to show things like my download status and weather from Forecastfox.

I have found a workaround in Firefox through the use of an add-on called Personal Menu.   This add-on allows the File|Edit|Tools|etc. menus as well as Bookmarks and History to be represented by tiny icons in the same row as the address bar and the search box.  On a netbook, this is an ideal solution as it allows the top row to be sized very small while maintaining most of the useful browser functionality only a click or two away.

Appearance of top of Firefox window with Personal Menu add-on installed.  Icons circled access menus, bookmarks, and history.  Click image for larger view.

Appearance of top of Firefox window with Personal Menu add-on installed. Icons circled access menus, bookmarks, and history. Click image for larger view.

The Personal Menu add-on for Firefox can be downloaded at this link: