What add-ons to Firefox do you find useful?
May 9, 2009 5:39 PM   Subscribe

I just learned about Firefox add-ons and grease monkey scripts (I know, I know....) There are literally thousands of these things and I was wondering which ones you find useful and how you use them. Any recommendations?

I'm really open to anything, from easy to complex -- so I'm not going to write how I use the internet -- because I'm interested in varied responses. What streamlines your browsing? What do you have now that makes life simpler or that you find yourself glad you have?

Thank you in advance. :)
posted by melodykramer to Computers & Internet (49 answers total) 95 users marked this as a favorite
MeFi Deleted Posts

you're welcome.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:41 PM on May 9, 2009

Whenever I find myself setting up a new installation of Firefox, Adblock and Flashblock are the first two I install. Tab Mix Plus is good for its undo close tab command, and I think it also lets you rename them. Copy Plain Text, which allows you to copy text without formatting, is brilliant.
posted by Lycaste at 5:44 PM on May 9, 2009

Definitely take a look at the MetaFilter scripts: http://userscripts.org/tags/metafilter

My favorites are:

MeFI deleted posts
MeFi Navigator
MetaFilter MultiFavorited

posted by blithecatpie at 5:45 PM on May 9, 2009 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah, and MeFi comment numbering
posted by blithecatpie at 5:46 PM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: Searching the tags at userscripts.org for sites you visit regularly would probably be a good step.
posted by box at 5:47 PM on May 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Adblock plus
Bug me not
Firebug (if you're a web developer)
Retail me not (coupons)
Ubiquity (a bit experimental, but cool)

Greasemonkey scripts:

Google cache continue
Facebook Fixer
posted by zippy at 5:49 PM on May 9, 2009

Response by poster: Whoa! I didn't know about userscripts. Thank you!
posted by melodykramer at 5:49 PM on May 9, 2009

I can't live without AutoPager, FlashBlock, and tabs open relative.
posted by icebourg at 5:50 PM on May 9, 2009

To clarify: are you looking for Firefox extensions in general, or specifically for Greasemonkey scripts?

For extensions, I use AdBlock Plus, NoScript, Compact Menu (especially good w/my netbook), DownThemAll and, of course, Greasemonkey.
posted by box at 5:53 PM on May 9, 2009

Response by poster: Hi Box: I'm looking for both -- I didn't realize, until like 30 minutes ago, that you could enhance a browser with stuff....I guess that GreaseMonkey is a Firefox extension (?) and then you add stuff to that? So anything that you can add on that enhances your experience, really. Thank you for the clarification question.
posted by melodykramer at 5:55 PM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: Noscript, Forecastfox, Mouse gestures, Xmarks.
posted by jockc at 5:55 PM on May 9, 2009

Chatzilla's nice too (though the target audience is probably kinda small).
posted by box at 5:57 PM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: nthing AdBlock Plus and Tabs Open Relative. Also:

Add to Search Bar
Customize Google (especially the Privacy tab)
User Agent Switcher
Context Search
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:59 PM on May 9, 2009

Whoops, here's the fixed link to Context Search. I use all these from a daily to a weekly basis.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:07 PM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: I used to have more active extensions than I do now - it can be easy to go "Wow! Gotta have that!" and just start downloading. But I think extensions can eventually start to slow down your browsing if you've got too many (or too many heavy-duty ones). Maybe I'm just dreaming, but I feel like things are snappier now that I have fewer. So just a note of caution.

Anyhow, the must-haves that I've stuck with:

1) GMail Manager - can't live without it (quick access to multiple GMail accounts)
2) Google toolbar
3) IE Tab - allows you to run an instance of Internet Explorer within a Firefox tab (great for IE-only sites like Windows Update)
4) Download Statusbar - small, compact download window
5) Tab Mix Plus - mostly use it for one thing, putting my tabs at the bottom rather than the top of the screen in FFox 2.0
6) ColorfulTabs - purely aesthetic, makes your tabs nice colors

I also liked Customize Google a lot (does exactly what it sounds like), but it appears that recent back-end changes by Google have rendered much of this extension inoperative, and there no longer appears to be active development.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 6:26 PM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: Of course, there's a firefox extension that will generate a list of your installed extensions. I pasted that below. Above the list are a few of my comments about specific listed extensions. There are one or two that I don't really use, but generally they're all pretty useful.

Foxmarks is great if you're using firefox on more than one computer.

Gears is great because it lets you access compatible web pages offline. I use it with Google Docs, Gmail and Google Calendar.

Customize Google is also helpful. When google doesn't have what you're looking for, Customize Google makes it easy to run the search on a variety of other search engines.

Book Burro is pretty self-explanatory and pretty helpful.

I use Zotero all the time. It's like my outboard brain. It was originally written for users in academic situations and it may be even more useful to you.

Fullerscreen is nice. Sometimes all the toolbars in firefox crowd out the content on the web page. Firefox has built-in functionality to help with this but Fullerscreen makes it easy to tweek and optomize that stuff.

Cooliris helps me sort through my flickr photos. For some purposes it's a little more efficient. It also looks cool.

Ubiquity lets you interact with the web without having to load an entirely new web page. Using google calculator for unit conversions, looking a word up in a dictionary, making a twitter status update, searching google/wikipedia/imdb/whatever. These are all such lightweight operations that it's really overkill to load a new web page. Ubiquity lets you do these things quickly without leaving the web page that you're on. I just added an event to my Google calendar and it took a fraction of the time that it would have required if I had to go to the Google Calendar site and do it their. Actually, it does more than that but I haven't really explored it very much.It's been called quicksilver for the web.

Greasemonkey - I have a lot of scripts installed. With Platypus I can easily make my own greasemonkey scripts.

Operator allows firefox to understand the content of suitably marked up web pages. For instance, if someone is looking at a post on my blog where I'm talking about an event, they can use Operator to add that event to their calendar because events are marked up properly on my blog.

Application: Firefox 3.0.8 (2009032609)
Operating System: WINNT (x86-msvc)

- /Find Bar/ 1.0.1
- Adblock Plus 1.0.1
- Book Burro - Remixing the bookstore 0.54
- Cooliris 1.9.1
- CustomizeGoogle 0.76
- Evernote Web Clipper
- Extension List Dumper 1.14.1
- Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer 2.7.2
- Fullerscreen 2.4
- Google Gears
- Greasemonkey 0.8.20090123.1
- Java Console 6.0.03
- Linky 2.7.1
- Make Link 8.12
- Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant 1.0
- Operator 0.9.3
- Password Hasher 1.1.4
- Platypus 0.81
- repagination 2006.4.5.1
- TooManyTabs 0.4.1
- Ubiquity
- Zotero 1.0.9
- Zotz 1.8.2
posted by stuart_s at 6:30 PM on May 9, 2009

Lifehacker just did a run-down on their Top Ten Greasemonkey scripts.
posted by skypieces at 6:35 PM on May 9, 2009

I used to have more active extensions than I do now - it can be easy to go "Wow! Gotta have that!" and just start downloading. But I think extensions can eventually start to slow down your browsing if you've got too many (or too many heavy-duty ones). Maybe I'm just dreaming, but I feel like things are snappier now that I have fewer.

You're not dreaming.
posted by box at 6:36 PM on May 9, 2009

Lifehacker regularly reports new and useful add-ons and scripts. Check them out or search their site for things you might be interested in.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 6:41 PM on May 9, 2009

Thanks, box. One extension which I liked but I felt really gummed up the works is ForecastFox. I've switched to using iGoogle now, but I really liked having the temperature right there in the statusbar. Do you know of anything a little lighter-weight?

Also, Marisa, thanks for Context Search. That one looks really helpful.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 6:42 PM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: leechblock, downloadstatusbar, adblockplus, and a gestures add-on are my essentials.
posted by gensubuser at 6:49 PM on May 9, 2009

Also, Marisa, thanks for Context Search. That one looks really helpful.

Yeah, that's one of the ones I use several times a day. The thing about the extensions I use is that most of them aren't running continuously, so they won't slow down the browser experience for me.

I went through the same thing you described with getting addons happy. A word of advice, OP: RSS alert extensions should be kept to a minimum. That really slowed things to a crawl for me. OTOH, the great thing is, you can try them and uninstall them with equal ease.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:56 PM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: I teach librarians how to use Firefox and Greasemonkey all the time. This page has some links to stuff that I think is useful for them.
posted by jessamyn at 6:58 PM on May 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My weapons of choice: Adblock Plus, Download Statusbar, VideoDownloadHelper, Firebug, Flashblock, NoScript.

Most of these show on the first 1-2 pages of the Firefox addon page under "most popular", which is a pretty good place to start actually.
posted by cj_ at 7:36 PM on May 9, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I just downloaded: AdBlock, FlashBlock, the Book Burro, the Flickr one, Ubiquity, the Metafilter deleted threads (I didn't know these existed! Hilarious!), AutoPager, the Full Screen one, and Linky. Phew!

I will look at the others but I think this thread (hopefully) helped longer users of extensions and newer users (like myself.) Thank you all for your help! Melody
posted by melodykramer at 7:48 PM on May 9, 2009

My favorite extensions:
IE View Lite (cus some sites aren't ff friendly)
Google Preview
Colorful Tabs

Oh and since you're new, can I suggest the Noia 2.0 eXtreme theme?
posted by NoraCharles at 8:34 PM on May 9, 2009

FB Purity removes people's quiz results and messages created by applications from your home page.
posted by Lucinda at 10:33 PM on May 9, 2009

(that should specify that it's your *Facebook* homepage.)
posted by Lucinda at 10:34 PM on May 9, 2009

Best answer: Here're my favorites.

These two are awesome web usability tweaks:
Linkify - Converts URLs that aren't links into links, so they're clickable.
SubmitToTab - Lets you right click form submit buttons to open them in new tabs, just like you can with links! Makes forms as usable as links, like they should've been years ago.

And these are my essential UI tweaks:
Tab Kit - Makes using lots of tabs possible, with multiple lines of tabs, and colored tab-groups.
SwiftTabs - Lets you set extra key shortcuts for switching tabs - I use alt-z and alt-x, so they're nice and handy.
Compact Menu - Lets you put the menu into one little icon on your toolbar. I then drag my bookmarks bar on to my navigation bar as well, and turn off all the other toolbars. Makes for a nice compact UI.
Fission - Safari style progress bar, in the address bar, since my status bar is also disabled.
posted by closetpacifist at 10:35 PM on May 9, 2009

If you've got a lot of extensions, Menu Editor and Organize Status Bar are nice to have. They let you customize the appearance of your context menus, menu bars, and status area by choosing what items appear and in what order. When you clear away the extension-added cruft that you don't really use and pare down the UI to what you truly need, it does wonders for usability and makes the browser seem much less cluttered.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:44 PM on May 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

once you have greasemonkey, the next logical extension is "greasefire", which changes the greasemonkey icon to indicate that there are scripts available for the site you are on.
posted by TimeDoctor at 11:58 PM on May 9, 2009

Is there no script to reply to mefi comments? I've seen one or two people use a similar format for quotation that places the parent's username, the quote and a link to the parent comment, and assumed it was a greasemonkey script I'm too lazy to learn about.
posted by pwnguin at 12:52 AM on May 10, 2009

pwnguin, I use MefiQuote (by plutor). The standard format is:

Username (which links to the comment): "Insert quote here."

...although the script adds a function to your preferences page that lets you tweak the format of the quote. It's also great because it lets you quote only selected text.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:28 AM on May 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: TabMixPlus - absolutely essential for anyone with more than a couple of tabs open at once. Infinitely customizable and incredibly powerful. I have a couple of sessions open with 50+ tabs right now and it's effortless.
AdblockPlus + Filterset.G Updater - never have to see ads again.
CustomizeGoogle - removes google ads, add position counters, rewrite image links to go directly the the images, anonymize google cookie ID
Download statusbar - replaces Download Manager with a much improved version
LeechBlock - helps me get some work done instead of none
SearchStatus - good GEO tool for PageRank, nofollow links etc.
Zotero - Essential for anyone writing academic documents.
posted by turkeyphant at 5:30 AM on May 10, 2009

Sage Too for RSS feeds in the sidebar. I use it regularly to check MeFi, AskMe, MeTa, Slashdot, The Daily WTF, 538.com, etc. It checks the RSS feeds of those sites at an interval of my choosing and alerts you (unobtrusively) when there are new posts available.

If you do any kind of web development, the Web Developer toolbar in addition to the aforementioned Firebug.

nth'ing AdBlock Plus and NoScript -- I can't imagine browsing without them.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 5:32 AM on May 10, 2009

*an interval of your choosing*
posted by Doofus Magoo at 5:33 AM on May 10, 2009

Best answer: I am a firefox addon whore, but I will try and list them all here in a short space of time for you; there are some real good ones. I'll take a quick screenshot so you can see what my firefox looks like, since I've changed it around a little bit.

From the top:
  • Adblock plus - Love this addon, it blocks all adverts on a page. I forget that websites have advertising now. Not the best in terms of helping website owners make money, but there we go.

  • Advertising Cookie Opt Out - Made by Google to opt you out of their advertising cookies

  • Autopager - Loads the next page underneath the current one on most websites so you don't have to click 'next' and then wait for the website to all load up again. Very handy once you get out of the habit of clicking next.

  • Better Gmail 2 - Compilation of greasemonkey scripts to improve gmail, gives slight tweaks for preference.

  • Better GReader - Same as above but for Google Reader

  • Better Privacy - Prevents long time tracking of you by websites such as youtube, google, ebay etc etc

  • Close n Forget - Creates a little X button that closes the webpage and deletes all traces of it from your computer. Handy for er, incriminating websites ¬_¬ You can see this one on my screenshot to the left of the address bar and next to the reload button.

  • Favicon Picker - I use this in conjunction with smart bookmarks toolbar which I will list. It allows me to choose my own favicons for the bookmark icons on my toolbar, since I use favicons to navigate my bookmarks. This one is for fussy people, not a necessity.

  • FEBE - Backs up your entire Firefox directory at set intervals in case of a terrible error that destroys your preferences (This has happened, it is like a scene from a horror film)

  • Firegestures - Lets you control browser behaviour with your right click. Hold down right click and draw the quick preset lines to do things such as go back, go forward, reload a tab you just closed, go to the botton or the top of a website, reload the page, things of that nature. Very handy once you remember a couple of actions, speeds browsing right up.

  • Flagfox - Puts a little flag that you can see at the end of my address bar to show the location of the server. Purely vanity, doesn't serve much practical use for me but I like it.

  • Gmail Notifier - You can see this in the very bottom right of my screenshot as the red envelope. Tells me when I have new email in my gmail account.

  • Google Reader Notifier - Same as above, but tells me when I have new feed items for Google Reader. You can also see this bottom right of my ss

  • Hyperwords - New one I just picked up, when you highlight a word pulls up a menu that lets you do lots of actions, like search google, wikipedia, translate the word, change currency, all without having to open a new tab. Still not sure on this one however, it requires a change of browsing habit.

  • IE Tab - When a website doesn't work properly, I click the firefox icon on the botton right next to my google notifiers, and it opens the page as if it was in internet explorer. Handy for when you need it, which less frequent now than in years past.

  • Image Zoom - Lets you zoom into browser images with right click and scroll, quite handy.

  • Locationbar - Highlights the domain in the address bar, helps for security so you know you have the genuine site. You can see this one as most of my url in the address bar is greyed out, except for metafilter.

  • Morning Coffee - Installs a button that opens up a bunch of preset websites when you click it. Configurable for different days, and a nice and clean way to start the browsing day if you have a lot of sites that you check daily. You can see this one as the coffee cup top right in my screenshot.

  • Read It Later - Great addon, you can see it between my google search and my address bar as a little brown and yellow icon as well as the tick outline at the end of my address bar. When you come across a page or article that you want to "read later" you just click that tick and it saves the page in a list, which you pull up by clicking the brown icon. Very very very handy, but easy to fill up the list with interesting crap that you might not come back to.

  • Save Image in Folder - Handy if you save lots of images from the web, lets you save an image in preset folders with just the right click, instead of having to choose the location every time. Saves you those vital seconds ;)

  • Smart Bookmarks Toolbar - Just displays the favicons of the bookmarks on my toolbar so I can fit more on. You can clearly see this addon as the colourful strip under the address bar.

  • Stealther - Like Incognito mode, you press a user defined shortcut and it lets you surf the internet without leaving a trace of what you have been looking at. Press shortcut again to turn it off.

  • Tinymenu - Replaces the File, Edit, View with just the Menu option, you can see it top left of my screenshot. Saves screenspace, especially when you shift the items around like I have to use as little space as possible. You can move your toolbars around by right clicking on an empty space and clicking "customise". Give it a try, you probably won't break anything :D

  • Xmarks - Synchronises my bookmarks and passwords to an online account, letting you retrieve them elsewhere so you can take your settings around with you wherever you go.

  • I hope some of these help, or at least someone sees them, since I have never spent 45 minutes crafting a reply before :P
    posted by tumples at 5:54 AM on May 10, 2009 [7 favorites]

    Something I haven't seen mentioned yet is "Firefox Showcase". A cool add-on that lets you view all your tabs in one window.
    posted by Dave. at 8:56 AM on May 10, 2009

    Response by poster: Thanks Tumbles!
    posted by melodykramer at 11:48 AM on May 10, 2009

    Now that you've discovered Greasemonkey, you should also check out its sister extension, Stylish. It's aimed more at the design of websites, but many of its scripts are available for Greasemonkey as well. The scripts are located at http://userstyles.org/.
    posted by IndigoRain at 12:25 PM on May 10, 2009

    Surprised no one has mentioned gtranslate, which translates words or phrases you highlight. Very useful if you browse websites in other languages than your own.

    Also another vote for Context Search, which after adblock is the single most useful addon I have. Go to Mycroft to browse through every possible search you can imagine to add to it.
    posted by CunningLinguist at 12:50 PM on May 10, 2009

    For finer control of text zoom, NoSquint.

    NoSquint allows you to adjust the text-only and full-page (both text and images) zoom levels as well as color settings both globally (for all sites) and per site.
    posted by olaguera at 3:17 PM on May 10, 2009

    I use the DownThemAll extension pretty regularly, and another that I LOVE is, YousableTube greasemonkey script for downloading youtube videos to your HD.
    posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 7:08 PM on May 10, 2009

    Best answer: Others I like not mentioned:

    ReloadEvery - timed page refreshing.
    FaviconizeTab - reduce tab header real estate so only site favicon is viewable. Particularly good for regular sites when you have a lot of tabs open in one window (I used to perpetually have 3 windows open which gets a little unstable after a while. This addon makes using only the single window the better option now).
    PDF Download - let's you take more control of pdfs (convert, see size, download, stops auto-loading *mostly*). Me likey.
    Screengrab - takes screenshots of whole page or just window or particular frame.
    posted by peacay at 10:01 AM on May 11, 2009

    Oh oops....
    Greasemonkey scripts:

    GReader FavIcon is a great complement for Faviconize Tab : puts the number of unread entries over the Google Reader favicon (subtle easy to see)
    TinyURL Decoder - if twitter URL shortening pisses you off, this will unobfuscate a whole big bunch of those annoying links.
    posted by peacay at 10:14 AM on May 11, 2009

    Best answer: "History Search Sorted" will sort your history search entries by date accessed even when you search for them -- something Firefox doesn't do by default.

    "RefControl" gives you finer control over the referrer header on a per-site basis, including the option to "forge" the header to always be the root URL of the site that each URL is requested from.

    "TamperData" and "Live HTTP Headers" if you want to see (and alter) the details of every HTTP request your browser makes.

    An extra vote for the already mentioned: Adblock Plus, CustomizeGoogle, Google Gears, Tab Mix Plus, Web Developer Toolbar.

    As far as Greasemonkey scripts, always do a tag search on userscripts.org if there's something about a web site that really annoys you. For example, Snopes.com blocks you from selecting text on their pages, which also results in not being able to use the arrow keys to scroll around. EBay has really ugly URLs. Google Image Search doesn't provide direct links to images. All of these annoyances are fixed with GM scripts. Annoyed by paginated photo albums on Facebook? Facebook Fixer will take care of that, etc.
    posted by qvtqht at 7:28 PM on May 11, 2009

    TimeDoctor once you have greasemonkey, the next logical extension is "greasefire", which changes the greasemonkey icon to indicate that there are scripts available for the site you are on.

    I can't find this on userscripts.org, can you please give me a link?

    Also: the add-on for quoting comments on MeFi doesn't seem to play well with my No-Script, YMMV.

    Thank you very much for Context Search and AutoPager.
    posted by paisley henosis at 2:39 PM on May 18, 2009

    better late than never?

    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/8352 is the url for greasefire.
    posted by TimeDoctor at 4:11 PM on June 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

    Love it! Thanks!
    posted by paisley henosis at 5:25 PM on June 4, 2009

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