Top 10 Must-have Firefox Extensions from Lifehacker

33 Comments

Thanks to Gina and the others at Lifehacker for rounding up their top 10 Firefox extensions. But they put them all on separate pages! Here’s their list in easy-to-read format with my own brief descriptions. For more detail, check out Lifehacker’s gallery and their comments, where you’ll get a bunch of other ideas for ways to customize Firefox for your own workflow and needs.

1. Foxmarks bookmarks synchronizer. Syncs your bookmarks across multiple computers by copying them to its servers (or your own server).

2. Adblock advertising blocker. Eliminates images, iframes, flash movies and other ads using your customized configuration based on URLs and wildcards.

3. DownThemAll! download manager. Try this instead of Firefox’s built-in download tool.

4. Tab Mix Plus tab manager. Allows stacking of rows of tabs, permatabs, merging windows of tabs, and renaming tabs.

5. ScrapBook web clippings library. Clip, store, and annotate snippets of web pages or entire web pages.

6. Greasemonkey web page customizer. Runs JavaScript by URL to make web pages work the way YOU want instead of how the web page designer and developer thought you wanted.

7. FireFTP FTP client. Conveniently transfer files between an FTP server and your computer.

8. Firebug web development tool. Lets you see what’s happening on a web page while it’s running — only for web developers, really, but a must-have tool for them.

9. CustomizeGoogle Google enhancer. Enhances search results and removes ads, adds links to the WayBack Machine Internet archive, hides the GMail spam count (who needs to know how much spam they have?), and other niceties.

10. AutoCopy clipboard helper. Transfers text to the clipboard right after you highlight it.

Personally, I love Performancing for writing blog post drafts and Zotero for gathering and organizing information about whatever I’m researching. I also like the del.icio.us Bookmarks extension from Yahoo.

What’s your favorite Firefox add on?

33 Comments

Tim

Oh, and lest you think that the name “Bridgestone” had some special cachet for me because of their previous ads, the tires I replaced were Khumo’s, a brand known only to people who are really into tires. Prior to buying those (on the recommendation of a friend), I had never heard the name before. However, I trusted the guy, and so that’s why I bought them. – Tim

Tim

[continued]
I don’t listen to the radio anymore, as I now have an iPod that plays music in my car. I canceled my newspaper subscription (before the advent of the Internet) because the mountain of advertising was overwhelming the content, and the resulting trash was more than I wanted to keep up with.

No, ads do not “persuade me to buy the best of products”–Word of mouth does. If I Google for something (for example, I found NetAdvantage the other day for .NET/Silverlight development), I look for informed opinions. I’m not going to buy it based on what appears in a banner ad or even on their site. I found out about it when I searched for information about .NET/Silverlight development tools. It’s called “active advertising,” and it puts control of ads in the hands of the user, not of the seller. If you want to play in that market, you need two things: A good enough product that people who use/review it will talk about it, and enough of a presence for your info and the reviews to show up in Google. Oddly enough, you can’t do that with TV, or any other passive medium. It’s what makes this very different.

Huh… there’s that weird Google thing again. They must be losing money hand-over-fist because they don’t put anything on their page that EVER gets blocked.

As for the blimp and the billboards, I can’t remember the last time one of those persuaded me to purchase something. The tires on my car are not Goodyear, they are Bridgestone Potenza S-03’s. They don’t have a blimp–they have the Michelin Man. He didn’t persuade me either. Jim @ Tire Rack did, because that tire has had the best user reviews from other S2000 owners. Why did I buy an S2000? Was it the flashy Honda ads? Nope. They didn’t do any TV advertising until AFTER I bought the car.

I’m not immune to advertising. Nobody is. But to suggest that I be a sheep and wander around aimlessly waiting for some bonehead building Adobe Flash animations to tell my how to make my manhood bigger or why I must have this gadget or that, is (for me) taking the value of this medium completely away.

Once again, the Internet is fundamentally different BECAUSE you can be an active participant in selecting the content you view. Just because people who put content here want to use an outdated method for selling their products (that happens to be a wonderful vehicle for injecting any number of things into my browser that I don’t want) doesn’t mean I have to accept it–and I don’t.

Brent, we’ll simply have to agree to disagree. You may not have called me an idiot, but with every response where you ignore the fact that I have answered and addressed your questions, so the implication seemed pretty clear. I do not accept the philosophy that I must view ads jammed into content online. You have no problem with this, and are on an apparent crusade to convince other people that they should be sheep, and be driven to buy things based on advertising. (OK… you didn’t suggest they act like sheep.) You’re welcome to have the last word on this. – Tim

Tim

Brent, what part of “I turned Adblock off, and the ads on this site still didn’t appear” did you not get? I am EVEN more suspect of the content of WWD because the ads are blocked by my HOSTS file. Everyone else who comes here should be too.

I just pasted this URL into IE. The banner ad at the top is a big, blank white box. Ooops… blocked by the HOSTS file. There are two small white boxes underneath “WWD SPONSORS” on the right. Blank again, so they must have been blocked too. Under “SPONSOR AD” below that, a huge blank box. That makes 3 for 3 blocked by my HOSTS file. It looks like Adblock doesn’t have much to do on this page. Why is that?

As for WWD losing revenue from me, the only way I’m seeing your comments is by looking at the “My Comments” page on my dashboard. I don’t visit this page regularly.

The only reason I saw this articles on WordPress is that it hit one of the Top 10 pages. I read the content, posted a comment about Adblock, and have not been back here for any reason except to reply to your comment about me blocking ads. The content here, in my opinion, is simply not that useful. If the owners of this site are losing sleep over the ad revenue that they aren’t getting from me, they need to rethink their strategy.

Here’s an idea: Let’s publish a large daily newspaper. Now let’s do an online version, and give away a lot of the content. But wait… some people are blocking our ads, and even those who don’t, our surveys are showing that the ads aren’t that effective. Perhaps we can put a premium on the really good content from someone like… Thomas Friedman. What do you know… that’s what the NY Times did.

Did you not read what I wrote about Tivo and time-shifting? Night before last, my wife watched “Dancing with the Stars” and fast-forwarded through the commercials because she recorded it. This effectively is a ad blocker for TV

Brent

Tim, weren’t we talking about the Adblock extension? That is not the same thing as a hosts file.

Do you block the giant ads on this site?

Do you assume that the owners of this blog do not frown upon this?

Do you want to answer my other relevant question? Do you have an ad blocker for radio TV and print too? How is the Net different?

I’ll even add a couple more: Do you close your eyes when approaching the presence of billboards and blimps?

Do ads not persuade you to by the best of products?

Tim

Fair enough… no idiot label appears.

I think comparing web ads to *some* spam is perfectly rational. There are many sites where I should expect if I put my e-mail address out there, I’m going to get spam. Frequently, the site states this in its fine print, but I don’t bother to read it.

Oddly enough, I’ve been online since before there was an ad-driven model for web-content. The company I was working for during the internet revolution was trying to figure out how to “leverage our content,” since the newsletter model we had used (extremely successfully for a dozen years) did no advertising within the pages. Accordingly, my BS flag goes up pretty quickly when someone suggests that you can’t do business online without intrusive and obnoxious ads interspersed with content.

I have no problem with someone wanting to earn a buck. I’ve got no problem with capitalism. (Nice try painting me as a non-capitalist though.) However, to suggest that I keep my browser open to off-site hosted pages/scripts/graphics, just for the sake of keeping someone’s revenue model coherent, just doesn’t play with me.

As I stated before, when I turn off Adblock and reload this site, there are huge holes in the content where it’s clear that some ads were placed. The only way that happens is that my HOSTS file must be blocking that content. Since my HOSTS file (straight from MVPS.org) blocks known spam/porn/spyware/adware sites, why is it surprising that I don’t look at WWD as a squeaky clean source of advertising?

It sounds to me as if you’re suggesting that I just blindly take whatever a server throws at my browser. I say “no” to that. Nobody said to any business that they had to use web browsers and in-line ads as their source of revenue. They’ve chosen this. They should realize that a certain percentage of the public is not going to let such things go through blindly. As a result, they will adjust their business model, as they should. However, they’re probably going to just try to legislate away things like Adblock, since that’s easier than being creative. That’s what TV people are trying to do with Tivo and other time-shifting mechanisms, instead of making more interesting ads, or finding ways to target the ads more effectively.

Funny… there’s nothing on Google’s page that ever gets blocked, but they seem to be doing OK financially. I wonder why?

Brent

Tim, I did not call you an idiot.

Furthermore, to compare web all web ads to spam is not logical.

Many websites, just like radio, TV, and print, exist BECAUSE of revenue generated from ads. If everyone took all the ads away and/or ignored them, ALL (good) media would cease to exist because nobody would pay the artists/authors.

I’ll tell you what, I’ll block the ads on YOUR website. How’s that?

Wait, you probably have none right? So since you don’t, nobody else should either, because God forbid someone EARN a buck, right?

What is your opinion of capitalism Tim?

Finally, ads are not the same as spam –bottomline. Do you have an ad blocker for radio TV and print too? How is the Net different?

Truly Equal

Hope you enjoy this list.

NoScript is truly excellent, as I can specify what pages I will allow to run scripts. It is very easy to use as well.

PDF Download is useful to download PDF documents. On Firefox, if you click on a PDF link, it will open it but the browser will slow to a crawl if the PDF is big, so this helps. It also allows me to view the PDF as HTML, which is a plus as well.

Copy Plain Text is just plain useful when copying and pasting website content into an email or a document. It doesn’t copy the formatting of the document/webpage, which honestly I don’t need.

Image Zoom for, well the title says it all.

VideoDownloader to download video clips from YouTube, etc. The extension is not that user-friendly, but it works just fine.

Finally, Track Package, which allows me to just highlight a tracking number on a webpage, and with a simple right-click it will identify the tracking number and lead me to the corresponding website (USPS, FedEx, etc.)

Tim

Brent, you’re right. I’m an idiot.

By your definition, spam-blockers are similarly wrong. After all, I wouldn’t want to stand in the way of any business trying to make money, and the only reason I get their mail is because I gave someone my e-mail address, so I must have wanted the spam… right?

As for the ads on this site, with ad-block off, I can see several blank regions, which tells me that the MVPS HOSTS file is at it again! I guess I should create that file by hand, and personally check each domain for naughty behavior.

In contrast to your opinion about theft-of-service by ad-blocking, I posit that persons choosing to block certain content from a given site, by whatever means they choose, are making a value-based selection. To the extent that content provides them with value, they will choose to view it. If it doesn’t, they won’t.

As for the potential of someone depriving WWD of revenue by use of a HOSTS file or ad-block, I’ll be glad to not revisit. (I can read your response in My Comments through WordPress… wait… is that depriving WWD of revenue????)

As for someone blocking ads on a site that I might host, if I’m dumb enough to post content from a widely blocked domain or using user-annoying methods, then soon enough, I suppose I’ll learn to generate revenue a different way, or come up with a more creative advertising scheme. (So far, WordPress is the only direct beneficiary of hits on my blog, so it’s a moot point for me.)

Brent

If everyone blocked ads or did not watch them, then there would be no such thing as business.

And you don’t need adblock to block phishing sites. I’m not buying that, because I know better. Use a good hosts file that can redirect known phishing sites to a loopback address. Spyware Blaster is one such software that will help to create such a list on the Windows platform. If you use Linux, then you are probably aware of how to manually create such a list. If not, you might want to consider not using Linux, because this is pretty basic. While in college, I learned this type of stuff on day one of Linux training courses.

You can also use a decent firewall with good access/deny policies.

As the name suggests this extension is for blocking advertisements that business relies upon.

If you block them, then how do you know that you wouldn’t click them?

Do you have something against other people making money?

So Tim, I know you assumed that I’m a newb, and not a trained and certified in Cisco Networking, among other things. Your assumption would be wrong, and your little tutorial means not much, except further explaining to those who are otherwise not knowledgeable about how the Internet works, how to block ads from people’s businesses.

I suggest that if you block ads from websites that provide free services, then you are stealing content and services from websites that rely on them to stay in business.

Not too cool.

Do you block the ads on this website too?

Tim

Brent, using that logic, we should have all continued to watch the lousy TV ads of the 70’s and 80’s, instead of taping the shows and fast-forwarding through them. Now, you have advertisers realizing that they’re going to have to actually work to get my attention, and not just do the job with mind-numbing repetition, the way most internet ads are today.

In addition to ad-block, domain-blocking (via the HOSTS file) protects you from all sorts of friendly little things that advertisers want to do to your PC. Sadly, many mainstream sites pay these same unscrupulous souls to plant nefarious code in your machine through just such a mechanism. Smart sites embed a plain-text link in the page in case the ad content is blocked. This way, I can find out where a site is sending me before I click, and can be confident that they’re not hosting a “tracking glyph” to snag IP addresses and the like.

Ad-blocking is no more unscrupulous than simply not reading and advertisement or having a policy of never clicking on an ad link. – Tim

Brent

Adblock really? So you don’t mind if I use adblock on this site to block your ads?

What a silly thing to suggest, that people block ads that would make you money!

I don’t block ads, because I respect people’s right to advertise in a capitalist society, in which we thrive and profit.

It’s how many sites remain in existence. Some of them even provide free services. But these service are free to users, not to the people who provide them.

So don’t block ads. It isn’t cool at all.

Tim

Kastcher, I made an honest effort to switch over to Opera, over a period of nearly two months. The best thing about it (both on the Mac & PC) is that it recovered the desktop when it (regularly) crashed. I’m now back to Firefox, using the IE Tab add-on for IE-specific sites.

On the Mac, Safari is faster than either of these, but isn’t as extensible, and lags on a few key areas of Javascript compliance. Oh well… – Tim

Chittaranjan

Adblock is a must-have extension! And so is its flash-counterpart – FlashBlock! other Fav Extensions include Cooliris and bbCodeXtra

Michael Moncur

It is a shame to see Lifehacker do something in the WIN / Gawker “the more posts the better” style. Thanks for the combined list.

Tony Wright

It’s odd that Lifehacker would waste their user’s time by putting each one on its own page. That’s generally a pretty low-usability way to artificially jack up your total page views and views-per-visitor.

Thanks for making it more convenient!

Comments are closed.