Saturday, May 16, 2009

Firefox Add-Ons

I thought I would write a post on the dozen or so Firefox add-ons I use. I have absolutely no claims to being a techie of course, but most people in my circle don't seem to know the amazing things that can be done with Firefox add-ons. Whenever I think of some idea that would make any website more convenient to use, I immediately go to Tools > Add-ons in my browser and search for it. Purely because I'm sure that, if I've thought of it, then somebody more technically able than me would have definitely done so before me and, more importantly, created an add-on!

The only problem with add-ons is that they add to Firefox's memory usage. And since my laptop isn't the best-performing laptop in the world, I've had to restrict myself to the few that I absolutely can't do without. So here they are, in no particular order.
  • Scribefire: Scribefire is where I'm currently typing this blog post. It's a little button at the bottom of my browser that, when clicked, opens up a window from which I can directly post to my blog. So no more do I have to sign into Blogger to post. It offers every feature that the Blogger 'Create Post' page does - in fact, possibly more. I can do pretty much any sort of text formatting; I can embed YouTube videos directly or add images from Flickr. It even has a live preview function, which is pretty neat. And the best part is that, after posting, I can just open Scribefire and edit the entry directly if I need to, without having to go to another page. This add-on has been a favourite of mine for a very long time. The only hassle is that I can't find the spellcheck.
  • Personas for Firefox: Not particulary functional, but I like it. I used to download themes for my Firefox routinely. Except that I would get tired of them pretty fast and then I would have to browse themes all over again to find something nice. But now I can scroll through dozens of skins for Firefox in a matter of seconds. Awesome!
  • Kwiclick: A recent find. I click the button on my browser and a window pops up that lets me search several sites at once. No more of having to open several different tabs to search Google, YouTube, Twitter, etc. My favourite function is that I can open a YouTube video and pin it to a corner of the browser while I go through my other tabs. My only crib is that it doesn't offer Google Images or IMDb search. Also, it doesn't seem to recognize operators like 'define:' that make Google easier to use. However, since the developer is available on twitter and is very open to suggestions, I guess future versions will be better.
  • Google Notebook Extension: Pretty staightforward. Opens a mini Google Notebook at the bottom of the browser, where you can add anything interesting that you come across on your daily browsing.
  • GMail Manager:I'm sure most of you have multiple GMail accounts. I have four. Two for blogging purposes and two for real-world purposes. And it's always a pain to have to sign out of one account and go to another just to check for new mail that might not even be there. So what I use is GMail Manager. It lets me check multiple accounts from the bottom of my browser.
  • TwitterBar: A pretty common add-on, I believe. It lets me post to Twitter from my Firefox address bar. I'm not into Twitter enough to use TweetDeck or Twhirl or any other desktop application. So this works fine for me. If a tweet strikes me while I'm surfing, I just type it out into the Firefox address bar and post!
  • Better GMail 2: A compilation of a lot of useful Greasemonkey scripts. It shows any attachments by type, and unread counts in the Favicon. There's also a filter assistant, Folders4GMail, etc. Only for people REALLY addicted to GMail.
  • Download Statusbar: Pretty basic. Downloads show on a bar at the bottom of your browser rather than in annoying pop-up windows.
  • Greasemonkey: Ah, Greasemonkey! What would I do without it? It lets me play around with websites. I can add things and remove things - well, as long as people have written scripts for them, since I definitely can't! I use only three Greasemonkey scripts, and all three are amazing!
  1. Facebook Purity: The reason I installed Greasemonkey in the first place. You know how the Facebook Homepage currently has all the annoying quizzes that your idiotic friends ever took? Well, you can remove all of them by just installing this script! Brilliant, eh? Well, unless you're one of those people who take great pleasure in clicking 'Hide' for each of these things, like Naween!
  2. Integrated GMail: I've blogged about this awesome script before. It integrates Google Reader, Calendar and Notebook into your GMail page. You can minimize and maximize these as you wish. Very useful for those who are addicted to these!
  3. Troy's Twitter Script: For people who use Twitter from Firefox. It adds several functions to your Twitter page - an RT button, automatic URL expansion, autopagination (pulling in the next page when you reach the bottom of the current one), shrinking of URLs in your tweets. My favourite function is that it shows tweets as conversations. You can see what people are replying to when they tweet something, which enables easy people stalking. :D Also, images and videos get automatically embedded if the tweet contains any such links.
There are also a couple of briliant add-ons that I had to uninstall for various reasons.
  • StumbleUpon: No need to elaborate on this one. Takes you to random websites depending on your interests.
  • CoolIris: I started using this add-on back when it was called PicLens. The very first time I used it, I was completely blown away by the 3D display. Try it - you will be, too. Back then, I was using it to browse images, mostly - on Google, Facebook, etc. Then it became CoolIris and added a lot of functions like video search and what not. I uninstalled it soon after that because my Firefox kept getting stuck and I blamed this addon, for no reason in particular.  I'd recommend that you try it at least once - just for the awesome display.
So tada! There you go. An Absolute Amateur's Favourite Firefox Functionalities. (Ha! Double alliteration! I like!) Currently, these add-ons are the only things stopping me from switching to Chrome. So I hope I've managed to inspire the non-techies who read this blog into trying add-ons. And the techies, please let me know of any nice ones that you use.
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shrik said...

AdBlock Plus and Filterset.G for blocking the crap outta obnoxious ads.

DownThemAll for managing multiple downloads etc, but I rarely use this 'cos download mgmt is pretty decent FF 3.0 onwards (you may want to consider dumping the Download Statusbar..), and also most of my browser-based downloads are only .torrent files :-D

Favicon Picker for easily modifying the favicon displayed in my bookmarks bar.

Delicious for mucking around with my Delicious bookmarks

Quick notes:

1. You do know Google Notebook is discontinued, right? It'll still work, just that no fixes/enhancements will go into it.

2. I use the "Hide" thing on FB too! (after having used FB Purity, and realizing I don't want to see those arbit quizzes even hitting FB from any other machine)

shrik said...

p.s: Did you mean TwitterBar or TwitterFox?

Jade said...

Just tried AdBlockPlus. But I think I'm using the wrong set of filters. Which ones are you using? The other three don't really make much sense for me - not much into bookmarking or downloading anything apart from torrents. :)

1. I didn't know about that about the Notebook extension. Darn. No wonder it looks so awkward.

2. I use only one machine, so FB Purity works for me.

3. I meant Twitterbar.