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The 25 Firefox Extensions you did not know you needed 

   Mirrored from desideratum 



Recent posts on Firefox extensions at both Gomeler and Quick Online Tips alerted me to a trend: many posts/articles that suggest FF extensions to download simply rehash the same tired list, and include only a handful (if any) that the avid user hasn’t heard of before. This practice isn’t necessarily bad; in fact, I can think of a couple of reasons why it’s good:

  1. For some people, it will be the first time seeing many of the more popular extensions.
  2. Reinforcement works; viewing “Fasterfox” on yet another top extensions list may actually convince some people to finally try it out.

This approach, however, really doesn’t do much to satisfy more experienced users. I’m talking about the users who know the shortcomings of their browsing experience, take some measures to resolve them (e.g. Tab Mix Plus, MR Tech Local Install), but wish they could do more. The adventurous types who occasionally browse the “Recently Updated” section of Firefox Add-ons looking to stumble onto something they didn’t know they needed, and find something they are eventually unable to browse without.

For the experienced and non-experienced alike, I’ve amassed a list of 25 useful Firefox extensions that didn’t make the Firefox Add-ons’ top 100 “Most Popular” cut.

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The following are 20 of the aforementioned extensions, in alphabetical order. If you want to jump straight to the top 5, for whatever reason, click here.

Filling out forms with your personal information can often be a hassle. Instead of needlessly typing your name/e-mail address for forum signups or your billing/shipping info for NewEgg orders, you can simply store the relevant information with AutoFill and one-click it in. Also, if you’re comfortable with keeping your credit card info stored, Autofill has a password-protected section for storing that info.

Classic Menus for Winstripe:
Can’t stand the Luna style menus that came with the update from FF 1.0.7 to FF 1.5? Revert with this extension! Classic menus restores the old look and feel to the browsing experience.

CoolIris Previews:
If you thought GooglePreview was hardcore, CoolIris Previews takes lookahead browsing to the next level. With this extension, hovering over any eBay, Craigslist, or Google/Images link allows you to preview the page in a picture-in-picture window. Even cooler: you can navigate inside the preview window as if it were a disposable frame.

Copy Plain Text:
As the name implies, this extension allow you to copy text without its formatting. Gone are the frustrating times when copying web articles over to Word/OpenOffice meant wasted minutes customizing the font face/size, removing bold/italics, changing spacing, etc. Copy/paste can again be a two-step process.

If copy/pasting is a bit too much work for you, consider DragToScroll your new best friend. This extension allows you to drag links or selections past the visible area of the page to, say, a comment box at the bottom.

Styles RSS feeds in FF, replacing the rather ugly view of the XML stylesheet. It also adds the ability to add a livemark and to switch article lengths to feed reading. An aesthetics must-have.

Find Close On Right
Main window? Right. Tab bar? Right. Find bar? Left? Be consistent! Close buttons go on the right.

Probably one of the better-known extensions, Greasemonkey allows the user to add bits of DHTML to any web page, thereby giving the user control over its content and behavior. With a massive repository of nearly a million scripts at, Greasemonkey is a must-have for active, fully-customizeable browsing.

Sometimes the cluttered look of opening 10-20 tabs in FF makes you cry inside, wishing you could could just close all those “necessary” pages. For the neurotic, HideTabBar lets you figuratively sweep that mess under the bed by hiding the tab bar — hey, if you can’t see it, it isn’t there!

MR Tech Link Wrapper
There’s always that one helluva-long link that ruins page flow by necessitating a horizontal scrollbar. Don’t let it. Link wrapper eliminates the nuisance by making links obey standard word wrapping properties.

Organize Status Bar
With the right extensions, your status bar can get cluttered and ugly fast. Stop sacrificing efficiency and rearrange or remove some of your status bar icons to tidy up your interface.

Lets you more efficiently read/navigate news articles, one paragraph at a time. Highlighting included.

A full-featured blog editor that sits in your browser window, letting you post to your blog easily while viewing / interacting with any site. It has WYSIWYG/source editing, notetaking features, and Technorati/Trackback/ support. It grows on you with time, becoming about as crucial to a blogger as the Web Developer toolbar is to web designers.

The PR of Greasemonkey, Platypus really jump-starts the active browsing experience WYSIWYG style by allowing to user to modify a webpage in FF and save the changes as a Greasemonkey script.

Resizeable Textarea
A very handy and straightforward extension to have, resizeable textarea eliminates the annoyance of having to scroll back and forth in really small textareas when writing long posts.

Search as you type toggler:
The “search as you type” feature in FF, while often useful, can be flat out annoying when it appears and you’re not actually trying to find something. Stray clicks away from text field can amount to more than a nuisance with time. About as bare-boned and straightforward as extensions come, Search as you type toggler solves the problem by simply letting you turn the “search as you type” feature off when you don’t need it.

Searchbar Autosizer
Auto-expands the searchbar if needed and shrinks it if you don’t have anything typed in you’d probably want to read. Handy for having the smallest possible functional searchbar.

Show Image
Sometimes images just fail to load in FF with no rhyme or reason. Instead of having to right-click, “View Image” then click “Back” after you’re taken to the image URL, you can choose to directly reload the offending image.

A lightweight Tab Mix Plus, essentially, superT has the essentials and a teensy bit more (i.e. a multiple tab rows feature!). While it may not have a built-in session restorer, it’s compatible with Session Manager, which has the added benefit of complementing it beautifully.

Text Link
If it’s too much to select plain-text links, copy them, paste them into your address bar and press enter, this extension is a must-have for you. In a nutshell, text link allows you to load a text link by simply double-clicking it.

View Source Chart:
This extension provides a more colorful and useful view of a page’s source by grouping containers into colored blocks for easy differentiation and debugging.

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I’ve singled out the final five extensions based on how thoroughly and frequently they impact my browsing experience, and ordered them into a “top 5″ ranking. Feel free to disagree, but at the very least give them a shot:

#5. Update Notifier:
Re-adds the update button from pre-1.5 builds of Firefox, but with added functionality. Instead of simply alerting you to browser updates, Update Notifier informs you when extension and theme updates are available. This extension is a must-have if you like staying up-to-date with all your add-ons.

#4. Fission:
If you’re a fan of Tab Mix Plus’ putting a loading progress bar on tabs, here’s a better solution: put it in the location bar! Fission combines address bar and progress bar Safari-style, letting the user choose either their own image or a color from a 70-color palette as the progress indicator. Not only does the options menu for the extension have a nifty preview animation to show you what your choice will look like, but it also features the ability to have your connection status appear on the address bar. Three cheers all ’round.

#3. Add N’ Edit Cookies:
A very useful extension that lets you both add AND edit “session” and saved cookies. Both novice and experienced users will find there are a host full of features that meet your cookie-handling needs. It’s bare-boned, has a easy-to-grasp interface, and a filter feature that’s saves search results cross-session. Finally, when used in conjunction with Cookie Culler, auto-logins can be managed in a cinch. A must-have for complete control of your browsing experience.

#2. Menu Editor:
Probably the extension you didn’t realize you needed, Menu Editor allows you to rearrange or remove items from both the main context (right-click) menu and the main menu bar (File, Edit, etc.). Once you have enough extensions installed, you begin to realize that the placement of certain extensions in the menus does not equate convenience with priority or frequency. The result is often a cluttered menubar or context menu that turns browsing into a dexterity test. With Menu Editor, a few minutes of sorting gives you that new-install feel without the loss of any functionality. Neat freaks, rejoice!

#1. Stylish:
Heralded as the “Greasemonkey of CSS,” this sweet extension lets you quickly and easily manage user styles without any of the silly restart nonsense. No matter what your experience level, with even the vaguest knowledge of CSS you can fine tune any webpage to your liking and keep it that way on every visit. If you don’t feel like that’s enough power for an extension to pack, Stylish also lets you edit the styles for the Firefox UI so that you can get the look/feel of every aspect of your browsing experience customized. While there is already a modest repository of ~300 styles available at, personal customization is really where Stylish shines.

A brief (and not at all representative) example can be seen in the following side-by-side comparison of BoingBoing before and after being Stylish’d:

If you can’t tell what the changes are (really?), the ads were removed and the background changed (c/o of Kupfel’s script), the links/search bar were moved to the top right, the dates were floated right and had a border-top added, and various whitespace was minimized.

And it only gets better. The development version already features a global styles submenu, keyboard shortcut, sidebar, “find” option, and sortable style list. Time will tell if this extension will catch on as indispensable, but for what it’s worth, I think it should.

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While there are certainly other extensions that would qualify for this extensions list/ranking, these are just the few that happened to catch my eye and prove themselves noteworthy. I don’t know if you’ll be as satisfied with the extensions I’ve mentioned if you try them, but I’m definitely pleased with their functionality. If you have any more you’d like to add to the list, feel free to comment and I’ll try to accomodate your suggestion (and maybe discover a new extension or two in the process!).