Right from the start of its life as a browser, Firefox aimed to ship with a small set of functionality which could be extended using Addons. If there is something you need to do, and Firefox does not do it out of the box, there is a good bet that there’s an addon to help you out. Since its release 8 years ago, I have tried quite a few plugins. Whilst many have been discarded, and some have been integrated into Firefox, a few have become essentials which I don’t like to be without. The following is my current list of must-have extensions, in descending order of usefulness:
- Download Statusbar – get rid of the annoying downloads popup window, and replace it with a slim, discreet statusbar.
- Speed Dial – visual bookmarks for your most visited sites (Firefox now does this automatically, but this plugin gives more control)
- Omnibar – the inspiration for this list, this addon combines the Location and Search boxes into one allowing for smarter browsing all around.
- Aaapptabs – if you use AppTabs (and you really should), this hides the things you do not need.
- Flagfox – useful for uncovering scams, and for learning more about the Internet, this shows you which country a website is hosted in.
- Delicious Bookmarks – use Delicious to quickly bookmark pages for future use and sharing.
- ColorZilla – grab colour codes from web pages so you can use them elsewhere.
- PDF Viewer – fed up of downloading, saving and viewing PDF documents? Just viewing them directly in your browser.
- Wappalyzer – see what technologies are used to build, store and deliver the website you are looking on. Very useful for curious web designers.
Note: whilst writing this list I can almost hear a crowd of voices shouting “but Chrome/Safari/Opera/IE does that already” to a backing harmony of students telling me that “Chrome is the best browser, man”. Whilst there is now a great selection of browsers on the market, and they all improve constantly, my experience is that Firefox provides the best combination of stability, rendering, performance and extensibility of all. Even more importantly, it is not controlled by Apple, Microsoft or Google, and so represents an important not-for-profit stronghold in an increasingly commercial web.