Why I Still Use Firefox: More Add-ons I Can't Live Without

Simon’s recent post about testing Firefox’s speed got me thinking: If Chrome and Opera are really faster than Firefox, why haven’t I switched?

Speed is always an issue, of course. But for me, and many others who use Firefox, its advantage is that it’s really more than just a browser. With the judicious addition of some well-designed add-ons, it can be a tool for managing multiple email accounts, testing and troubleshooting web pages, managing passwords, synchronizing data, and much more.

Other browsers offer add-ons, too, but as far as I know, no other browser has all of the add-ons that I use. Some I’ve written about before, but others are relatively new additions to my toolbox.

  • Gmail Manager. I use this add-on constantly. It allows me to manage multiple Gmail and Google Apps Mail accounts without opening multiple tabs or a separate email program.
  • Google Shortcuts. I also use a lot of other Google products (like Reader and Webmaster Tools, for example), but find that their URLs aren’t necessarily memorable. This add-on lets me create simple shortcuts to the Google pages that I often visit.
  • Firebug and Web Developer. These add-ons are tools that no web developer should be without. They provide a huge range of functions for testing and troubleshooting HTML, CSS and much more.
  • 1Password and LastPass. These add-ons manage password data and sync it with other computers, as well as mobile devices like the iPhone and iPod touch. Yes, I probably don’t need two password managers, but each has its advantages, and I really can’t afford to lose the huge number of passwords I have. So I use both; they co-exist surprisingly well.
  • XMarks. In addition to passwords, it’s handy to be able to sync browsing history and bookmarks between computers, which XMarks does well. It can also sync passwords, although I don’t use it for that.
  • Screengrab and NoSquint. These add-ons make minor, but very useful, improvements to the built-in features of Firefox. Screengrab allows one to take screenshots within the browser, and NoSquint lets one adjust zoom levels on a site-by-site basis.
  • All-in-One Sidebar (AIOS). I do like one feature of Opera — the ability for one’s history, add-ons and downloads to show up in a sidebar rather than popup windows. AIOS is a very configurable Firefox add-on that makes for a much cleaner browser display.
  • Finally, Adblock Plus.

Of course, as a web developer, I do need to make sure that the sites my company makes are compatible with many different browsers and operating systems. But frankly, I spend most of the day in a browser, and so far, that browser is still Firefox.

What is your preferred web browser?

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): What Does the Future Hold For Browsers?

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