How can Greasemonkey Change My Life?
July 22, 2006 5:33 PM   Subscribe

I don't really understand Greasemonkey, and I feel like I should. I get what it is more or less, but I want to know how it can Change My Life. So, for those of you who use Greasemonkey extensively, what do I need to be using?

People tend to talk about Greasemonkey like it's a magic cure- all for anything a website doesn't do that it should. I don't have any specific problems, so I guess I'm looking for things I didn't know I wanted until I knew I could have them.
posted by MadamM to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I've found MeFi Navigator to be useful.
posted by SemiSophos at 5:39 PM on July 22, 2006

Also look at Firefox extensions, which can do Greasemonkey-like stuff and more.

In a nutshell: take a look at the page source for this page. Greasemonkey, if you add the appropriate programming, can change that source* any way you want. Greasemonkey can also do just about anything a "regular" program can do, and display it on this or any other web page**.

Some examples: a web page shows a column of numbers. Greasemonkey can show you the sum of the numbers. A web page shows you things in several categories. Greasmonkey can show you aggregate category counts. A web page includes ads; Greasemonkey can remove them (but Adblock is a better solution).

So Greasemonkey transforms web pages however you program Greasemonkey to do so.

* Greasemonkey does not actually see or change the source, it sees the source as transformed into a DOM tree by Firefox.

** I.e., Greasemonkey scripts are written in Javascript, which is Turing-complete. But don't expect to write complex 3d graphic drivers or a database. Also, Greasemonkey can't for security reasons, write to or read from files on your machine. It's trivial but risky to change Greasemonkey allow this.
posted by orthogonality at 5:48 PM on July 22, 2006

The reason I installed Greasemonkey was in order to be able to use the "single-page" script (site is down at the moment).

Subtle tweaks like that seem so minor until you are on a machine without it installed...

Have you browsed through the available scripts at People have solved problems you never knew you had (until GM fixed them for you)
posted by misterbrandt at 5:56 PM on July 22, 2006

Salon Premium Pass script -- so you don't have watch the ad to see the content.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 6:32 PM on July 22, 2006

Greasemonkey solves problems with the layout or functionality of websites. So if you don't have any specific problems, you don't need it, and I'm a little puzzled why it's a big deal for you. Just wait until you have an issue, come back here and ask for a GM script to fix it.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:35 PM on July 22, 2006

Good introduction here.
posted by ifranzen at 7:50 PM on July 22, 2006

Response by poster: AmbroseChapel, I guess I'm mostly wondering what kinds of solutions people have come up with for little problems I've just learned to block out and work around. For instance, if I could turn off the flash ads that expand across the screen when you mouse over them, I would be much happier. That's just an example of a problem I wouldn't mind solving. I want to know what other people have used to make the internet more customized to their tastes.
posted by MadamM at 9:02 PM on July 22, 2006

I use Greasemonkey in conjunction with Platypus to modify sites that I visit regularly -- mostly to isolate the main text and get rid of headers, sidebars, and other stuff. I also use cskinner to change font size, line-height, etc., to make text more readable.

If you just want to get a sense of the things that Greasemonkey is used for, I recommend scrolling through the list of site-specific scripts. If you see any sites listed there that you regularly visit, take a look at what the script does and think about whether you think that function or something like it might be beneficial.
posted by camcgee at 9:55 PM on July 22, 2006

FlashBlock, MadamM (an extension, not a Greasemonkey script.) It keeps flash from running at all unless you tell it to, protecting you from a host of annoyances I've heard about but haven't experienced.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 5:11 AM on July 23, 2006

The two I always install first now are

Check Range - I get the most use out of this on hotmail. If you only want to delete about half the emails on the page, it saves you a ton of clicking. Check the box of the first email you want deleted, hold shift and click the box of the last email you want deleted. All of the boxes in between will be checked.


Inline MP3 Player - Invaluable for MP3 blogs. It puts a little play button next to MP3 links, which will stream the audio so you don't have to download the whole thing only to find out you're not interested in it.

Two more great site-specific ones are

Netflix Queue Manager - Adds some great functionality to the Netflix site. The best part is the drag and drop interface to move stuff on your queue around.

NetVibes Keyboard Shortcuts - If you're using Netvibes as a start page, this is worth downloading just so you can hit 'Esc' instead of having to click on the X box on an article you've viewing.
posted by chimmyc at 9:12 AM on July 23, 2006

scripts scripts scripts. everyone surfs the internet differently, and things get on your nerves. all web pages are displayed pretty much the same way. greasemonkey allows you to decide what and how things are displayed. its cool because you can download a scripts someone else wrote, change it to what you want and POW! no more web annoyances. i strip out things that slow load time, i shrink images, i eliminate tracking/redirect code. when i get brave and venture to myspace, it controls that tempers web page into something i might -almost- wanna look at.

platypus will write the scripts for you. you just move it, cut it, or erase whatever you want on said page and PT will write the script for you.

it doesnt seem like a big deal until youve used it for a few weeks. then its amazing.
posted by Davaal at 9:42 AM on July 23, 2006

Personally I've gotten the most use out of the few scripts that I have written for myself. For my MovableType blog admin screens, I made a little link show up next to the comments that would allow me to blacklist that comment right away. Another favorite hack I had was for a local real estate website. Instead of having their listings link to their craptacular mapping service, I made it point to Google Maps instead. That was a tremendous help.
posted by mmascolino at 11:16 AM on July 23, 2006

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