Firefox Extensions

Introduction

The Mozilla FireFox browser is gaining popularity among web surfers all around the world. Tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking and the lack of spyware are just some of the reasons many people are turning to FireFox. One of the most interesting features of the Mozilla Firefox browser is the user's ability to add functionality and features to the browser through "extensions".

These extensions can consist of just about anything that you can think a web browser should do. There are extensions available to add search bars to the browser, as well as small extensions that simply add a single setting to FireFox. There are even extensions that will transform FireFox into a completely different application, such as the Mozilla Calendar.

This article will cover some of popular Firefox extensions that many people simply can't browse without.

Browsing Enhancements

These extensions will make your browsing experience richer by providing easy ways to navigate, archive and manipulate content on web pages.

All in One Mouse Gestures

http://perso.wanadoo.fr/marc.boullet/ext/extensions-en.html

This extension consists of many different extensions as one easy to install extension. These extensions allow you to manipulate the browser by using your mouse. Some of the included extensions are:

Mouse Gestures - Allows you to manipulate the browser by making a "gesture" when pressing and holding the right mouse button. Default gestures can be found here - http://optimoz.mozdev.org/gestures/defaultmappings.html

Rocker Navigation - Rocker navigation allows you to perform Back navigation when the right mouse button is pressed and the left mouse button is clicked, forward navigation is accomplished by the opposite mouse button combination.

Scroll Wheel Navigation - Press and hold the scroll wheel of your mouse to scroll up/down the web page.

Autoscrolling - Works the same as Scroll Wheel Navigation, but instead of holding the scroll wheel simply click on it and move the mouse up/down to scroll the page. Click again to disable.

Allow Right Click

http://extensions.roachfiend.com/

This extension will simply bypass any script that stops the function of the right-click context menu. These scripts are mainly added to images that the author does not want you to save. Very handy to have.

Dictionary Search

http://dictionarysearch.mozdev.org/

This extension will add an entry to the right-click context menu allowing you to lookup the definition of any word on the web page. You simply highlight the word you want a definition for, right-click, select 'Dictionary search for "word"', then a new tab will open up with the dictionary.com definition of the word.

Dictionary Search in Action
Dictionary search in action

Image Zoom

http://www.yellowgorilla.net/imagezoom/

This extension will allow you to resize any image on the web site. Once installed simply right click on an image, then select zoom image to open the Image Zoom dialog box.

Mozilla Archive Format (MAF)

http://maf.mozdev.org/

The Mozilla Archive Format extension allows you to archive any web page into a single compressed file which can be opened later with Mozilla FireFox. The importance of this is the fact that it will archive the site as viewed in the browser - meaning it stores all the text, graphics, etc that makes up the page into a single file. In my experience, the only pages that are not re-displayed properly from the archive are pages with images included in a separate Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) file.

Target Alert

http://www.bolinfest.com/targetalert/

The Target Alert extension will display a small graphic next to links that are not web pages. For example a mailto: link will display a small envelope, a link to a PDF file will display a small Adobe icon, etc. What makes this a must have extension is the fact that any link utilizing javascript to open in a new window will also display a special graphic enabling you to choose to right click on the link to "open in new tab".

Target Alert in action
Target Alert in action

As you can see in the above picture, Target Alert lets you know that clicking on the author's name will send an email to him and clicking on CNET News link or the article link will open the page in a new window (so right click on them and 'open in new tab').

Content Filtering and Bandwidth Tools

Adblock

http://adblock.mozdev.org/

The Adblock extension is one of my favorite extensions, especially on my laptop with a display of 1024x768. What Adblock does is simply removes Ads from a web site, and if configured properly, does an extremely thorough job.

Configuring Adblock can be a daunting task, especially if you manually tell it to block ads. Fortunately, Adblock will accept regular expressions, meaning a simple script can block most Internet Ads. Many may be wondering where I can get a nice Adblock Script, well just save the following as a text file and import it into Adblock, or download the text file here to import into Adblock.

[Adblock]
/\D\d{2,3}x\d{2,3}\D/
googlesyndication
us.yimg.com/a/
/\/buy_assets\//
/[\W\d_](top|bottom|left|right|)?banner(s|id=|\d|_)[\W\d]/
/[\W\d](double|fast)click[\W\d]/
/[\W\d]click(stream|thrutraffic|thru|xchange)[\W\d]/
/[\W\d]value(stream|xchange|click)[\W\d]/
/[\W\d]dime(xchange|click)[\W\d]/
/[\W\d](onlineads?|ad(banner|click|-?flow|frame|ima?g(es?)?|_id|js|log|serv(er|e)?|stream|_string|s|trix|type|vertisements?|v|vert|xchange)?)[\W\d]/

This script will block most Internet Ads, however some pages may not display properly. (A small price to pay for your sanity.)

Bandwidth Tester

http://jgillick.nettripper.com/

The Bandwidth Tester extension allows you to test the speed of the Internet Connection you are using. So, instead of going to a website such as bandwidthplace.com to test the speed, just lauch Bandwidth Tester from the Tools menu.

Bandwidth Tester results
Bandwidth Tester Results

Toolbar and Statusbar additions

These next extensions will add different information to the FireFox statusbar and/or add a seperate toolbar that can be enabled. The following Image shows these next extensions in action.


Toolbar and Statusbar Extensions

GoogleBar

http://googlebar.mozdev.org/

The GoogleBar extension was developed because people wanted to run the Google Toolbar with Mozilla or Netscape instead of Internet Explorer. The default FireFox install does have a small search bar that is linked to the Google search engine, but many people like all of the advanced search functions that this extension gives you. If you do decide to use this toolbar instead of the default search bar, you can remove the default search bar by going to View - Toolbars - Customize and simply drag the default search bar off of the main toolbar. A nice feature of the GoolgeBar extension is the fact that you do not need to display the toolbar to access the advanced features, as they can be access throught the 'right-click menu'.

Statusbar Clock

http://www.cosmicat.com/extensions/

The Statusbar Clock extension will display the current date and time in the statusbar. This is a good extension to use if you auto hide the "start menu" within Windows or use a Window Manager that does not include a clock within Unix/Linux/BSD.

StockTicker

http://jgillick.nettripper.com/

The StockTicker extension will allow you to display updated stock quotes in you statusbar. You can customize this extension with whatever stocks you may need and how long the extension will display each individual stock price. If you have quite a few stocks you want to keep track of, this extension will also allow you to open a sidebar with a list of all the stocks in a column.

WeatherFox

http://weatherfox.mozdev.org/

The WeatherFox extension displays the current temperature and forcast for a city. It gathers this information automatically from weather.com, you simply need to supply a zip code.

Extensions Enhancing Firefox Components

Cookie Culler

http://cookieculler.mozdev.org/

The Cookie Culler extension will replace the default cooke manager within FireFox to a customized version that includes the ability to protect certain cookies. This is useful if you want to save certain cookies that set web site preferences when you clear out all of your cookies.

CookieCuller Properties
CookieCuller Properties

Download Manager Tweak

http://dmextension.mozdev.org/

The Download Manager Tweak extension replaces the default Firefox download manager with a customized version. The customized version allows you to open download manager either in a seperate window, the sidebar, or a new tab. It also allows you to customize how and what the Download Manger displays when opened.

Download Tweak shown in the sidebar
Download Manager Tweak moved to the sidebar

Sort Bookmarks

http://extensionroom.mozdev.org/more-info/sortbookmarks

The Sort Bookmarks extension will simply allow you to sort your bookmarks alphabetically, a feature that was not transferred from Mozilla to FireFox.

FireFox Applications

Extensions can not only provide additional features to Mozilla FireFox, but they can also transform FireFox into a separate application to do a certain task. This section covers a few extensions that are nearly standalone applications.

Mozilla Amazon Browser (MAB)

http://mab.mozdev.org/

The Mozilla Amazon Browser extension allows you view the entire Amazon.com product list within a separate application. This make browsing their product list much quicker and easier. Once you install this extension, you can use it by selecting Tools - MAB to launch the extension.

The Mozilla Amazon Browser
The Mozilla Amazon Browser Extension

Mozilla Calendar

http://www.mozilla.org/projects/calendar/

The Mozilla Calendar extension provides a full function calendar that allows you to keep track of any important days or meetings. It is currently under heavily development and looks to be very promising. In it's current state it seems to be very stable and usable. This extension shows off the power of extensions to easily install and launch applications based off of Mozilla. The Mozilla Sunbird Project is actually based off of this extension, but the final Sunbird release will be a standalone Mozilla application much like the way the Mozilla Thunderbird Email client is.

Mozilla Calendar Extension
The Mozilla Calendar Extension

Sage

http://sage.mozdev.org/

The Sage extension will transform FireFox into a RSS feed reader. RSS is a format to simplify syndicating web site information. Using Sage you can read this information in an easy to read form. This allows you to quickly check new information on many different sites quickly and easily without having to manually go to each site. This is great for sites that you constantly monitor.

The Sage RSS reader
The Sage RSS reader

Web Developer Extensions

The following extensions allow you to use Firefox as a developer tool when you are creating and managing websites.

Edit CSS

http://editcss.mozdev.org/

The Edit CSS Sidebar extension allows you to view and change CSS properties of a web site. This alleviates the web developer from having to edit the file, save it and refresh the site, it makes editing CSS sites much quicker. Once installed you access this extension by going to view - sidebar - EditCSS.

Note: the Web Developer extension also provides this functionality but is slightly harder to use.

EditCSS in action
EditCSS allows you to adjust style sheets "on the fly"

User Agent Switcher

http://www.chrispederick.com/work/firefox/useragentswitcher/

With the User Agent Switcher extension you can tell FireFox to identify itself as a different web browser to a web server, such as Internet Explorer or Opera. This is useful if you are creating any scripts that will execute differently within different browsers, or if you try to view a site that blocks access to anything other than Internet Explorer (idiots).

Web Developer

http://www.chrispederick.com/work/firefox/webdeveloper/

The Web Developer extension is a toolbar (among other tools) that allows you to visually see how a website is created. Using this extension, it is easy to view various information about the website, such as the size of images. It also allows you to outline elements of the site, such as tables and other block elements. If you develop web pages for a living or as a hobby, or simply want to learn more about HTML, XHTML and CSS definitely install this extension.

Web Developer in Action
The Web Developer extension in action

Conclusion

The extensions listed here are only a small percentage of the extensions that are available. Currently there are quite a few different web sites devoted to keeping up with all the various FireFox extensions available. The most notable of these web sites are http://extensionroom.mozdev.org/ and http://update.mozilla.org/extensions/. If you find that Mozilla FireFox is lacking a feature, or if you wish it handled things differently, browse these sites for an extension that may be available to handle your needs.

If you still have an issue with Mozilla FireFox and want to address this personal need, there is an excellent tutorial on creating your own FireFox extensions at http://extensions.roachfiend.com/howto.php.

Updates

This section contains additional extensions that other people listed in some of the talkbacks where this article was originally published (flexbeta.net and slashdot.org)

Tabbed Browser Extensions

http://white.sakura.ne.jp/~piro/xul/_tabextensions.html.en

Linkification

http://www.beggarchooser.com/firefox/

Copy Image

http://gratisdei.com/FF.htm

Flat Bookmark Editing

http://bluweb.com/us/chouser/proj/mozhack/

FlashBlock

http://flashblock.mozdev.org/index.html

miniT

http://extensionroom.mozdev.org/more-info/minit

MagPie

http://www.bengoodger.com/software/tabloader/

BugMeNot

http://bugmenot.mozdev.org/

Firefox Toolbar

http://www.firefoxtoolbar.com/

Launchy

http://gemal.dk/mozilla/launchy.html

BBCode

http://jedbrown.net/mozilla/extensions/#BBCode

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© 2017 Mike Petersen - All Rights Reserved