Help me switch.
October 24, 2006 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Which Firefox extensions should I install?

The imminent release of Firefox 2.0 has made me think seriously about switching from Safari. However, it seems that installing the right extensions is key to getting the most out of Firefox. What are the extensions that you can't live without, and why?

(I know there's an older thread on this, but it's now over a year old, and, you know, things change fast!)
posted by myeviltwin to Technology (42 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
Adblock Plus
Google Preview
Download Statusbar
IE Tab
Tiny URL creator
posted by kenchie at 9:34 AM on October 24, 2006

I used to reccomend the spell-check extension (gah! Don't know the name), but I hear FF2.0 has it built in. I also use the bugmenot extension regularly (You just have to right-click on the username field, and it's an option on the menu. Too easy!)
posted by muddgirl at 9:35 AM on October 24, 2006

Adblock Plus and the Adblock Filterset updater, assuming you dislike ads.
Flashblock, to let you control when/if the Flash starts playing.
MediaPlayerConnectivity, to let you control when/if embedded media like Quicktime starts playing.
Mouse Gestures, because it means less mouse movement.
IE View for those pages that don't get along with Firefox.
MR Tech Local Install right now, because while the extensions above all work with FF 2.0, some may not want to install.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:39 AM on October 24, 2006

posted by I Am Not a Lobster at 9:42 AM on October 24, 2006

You didn't mention what you use the internet for - or what you want to get out of your extensions in terms of functionality, but for the record - I use:

Tab X (Adds a red 'x' to each tab)
Stumble Upon (Web surfing network)
Grease Monkey (Run other scripts)
VideoDownloader (Save YouTube videos)
TorrentBar (Search torrent sites)
Colorful Tabs (What it sounds like)
FlashGot (Lets you batch download images)
FlashGet ("")
Customize Google
(Lets you mess with Google)
SessionSaver (Saves your entire set of tabs for the next time you open) had a list of "the best" Firefox extensions.

Get Firefox!
posted by ifranzen at 9:44 AM on October 24, 2006

Also, an essential GreaseMonkey script is Mefi Navigator.
posted by ifranzen at 9:47 AM on October 24, 2006

Adblock Plus (w/Filterset.G updater) (blocks ads)
FlashBlock (better Flash controls)
SessionSaver (saves open windows across browsing sessions)
AllinOne Gestures (smaller than mouse gestures, last time I checked anyway)
Sage (RSS reader)
Chatzilla (IRC client)

There are a few others I use at home, but those are the extensions on my work computer. And they're not really extensions, technically, but don't forget Mycroft search plugins. I can't get enough of 'em.
posted by box at 9:47 AM on October 24, 2006

Response by poster: You didn't mention what you use the internet for - or what you want to get out of your extensions in terms of functionality

Good point. I deliberately didn't mention functionality because I wanted to be open to as many new ideas as possible, including stuff I might not know that I want.

My usage is mostly a lot of browsing, often for school (I'm an academic), and some occasional light web development.
posted by myeviltwin at 9:51 AM on October 24, 2006

Two more that make my life better and nicer:

ForecastFox (shows weather info at the bottom next to the status bar)

AutoFill (click on the button to autofull fields, not yet updated for FF2)
posted by Andrhia at 10:04 AM on October 24, 2006

I used to install a lot of extensions but with more and more functionality being bundled into the base browser install the only one I now use is Adblock Plus (you don't even need the Filterset update extension as there are subscription options in the extension).

With FF 2.0, spellcheck and session restore, enhanced bookmark management, and Google suggest on the search bar makes it much leaner package (and less prone to memory leaks in extensions). Also, you don't have to worry about FF2 in the "add-ons".

If you're a web developer, then the web Developer extension is invaluable.
posted by purephase at 10:07 AM on October 24, 2006

I use the following:

Copy Plain Text
PDF Download
posted by roomwithaview at 10:08 AM on October 24, 2006

I can't live without ConQuery, which allow you to search for highlighted text in any of the search engines you have installed to FF. Also, SessionSaver is a must-have, which is why it is built in to FF2.0 (but not turned on by default).
posted by Who_Am_I at 10:08 AM on October 24, 2006

For everyday browsing:
Paste and Go
Adblock Plus (and the Adblock filterset updater)
Google Calendar Quick Add

More Advanced Stuff
Greasemonkey + some scripts from
Menu Editor

If you do web development,
Web Developer Toolbar
Add and Edit Cookies
posted by chrisamiller at 10:13 AM on October 24, 2006

My favourites:
Tabbrowser Preferences (I prefer this to Tab Mix Plus, as TMP has too many features I don't need and I think it slowed down the browser)

Other good ones:
Disable Target Downloads
SearchPlugInHacks (allows you to delete search engines from the search bar)
posted by catburger at 10:19 AM on October 24, 2006

I love firefox. I really do. But on my Mac I switched to Opera. My mac is old and Opera seems to be faster than Firefox. You perception may vary.

Having said that, my list of Firefox extensions on my PC are:

IE View - Right click to open a page in IE
Coralize - Right click to open thru Coral cache
Sage - RSS reader
Flashblock - Blocks flash, mostly for ads
Enhanced History Manager - Enables history search
Slashdotter - enhances slashdot
Google Notebook

I've noticed that there is a huge variety of plugins and I'd be hard pressed to name any as must-haves. Everyone has different needs and Firefox is remarkably close to meeting them all, with the right extensions.
posted by chairface at 10:23 AM on October 24, 2006

Tab X, which ifranzen recommended above, adds the "X" button to individual tabs, but I find it really unattractive. You can close individual tabs by middle clicking (the scroll button on your mouse), anyway, so save yourself some space and don't download that one.

Try not to download too many extensions as they tend to slow down performance.
posted by catburger at 10:24 AM on October 24, 2006

DictionarySearch and Cookie Button. The engine for searching WorldCat library catalog.

WebMailCompose if you use webmail rather than an email client.
posted by needs more cowbell at 10:29 AM on October 24, 2006

Besides the obvious Greasemonkey, and a few already mentioned, I find these useful:

Platypus is good for tweaking the way sites look.

Restart Firefox does what it says on the tin.

Tabs Open Relative makes all new tabs open to the right of the current tab, rather than at the far right of the tab bar (I love this).

Search Keys lets you go to search results by pressing the number of the search result (works on Google,, a few other places).

Also, since some add-ons might not work with the latest version of Firefox, get Nightly Tester Tools - it forces older scripts to be compatible (but might therefore screw things up).
posted by jack_mo at 10:36 AM on October 24, 2006

Adblock Plus
Duplicate Tab
IE Tab

posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:37 AM on October 24, 2006

Tab X, which ifranzen recommended above, adds the "X" button to individual tabs, but I find it really unattractive. You can close individual tabs by middle clicking (the scroll button on your mouse), anyway, so save yourself some space and don't download that one.

Never knew this! Thanks for the tip, catburger.
posted by ifranzen at 10:41 AM on October 24, 2006

+1 for Chris Pederick's Web Developer Extension and Karmatics' Aardvark. I also use Screengrab! to grab full window (below the fold) screenshots.
posted by ceri richard at 10:42 AM on October 24, 2006

Fetch Text URL. Highlight a website on a page of flat text and right-click, and it will fetch the site that you've highlighted in a new tab.
posted by pdb at 10:44 AM on October 24, 2006

I've also been using VideoDownloader a lot since Youtube is deleting stuff by the thousands. Keep in mind you'll need something like VLC to actually view .flv (flash video) files.
posted by bobo123 at 10:50 AM on October 24, 2006

I love Tab Mix Plus.

Target Alert adds a little picture next to PDFs, Word documents, and other non-webpage targets so you know what you're about to click on. Particularly helpful if you're on a slow computer.

Gmail Notifier - self-explanatory.

My other essentials have already been mentioned. When you download Greasemonkey, be sure to pick up Mefi Navigator - it's awesome.
posted by granted at 11:12 AM on October 24, 2006

All-In-One-Sidebar - cool bar on the left of your screen with easy access to bookmarks, extensions etc....

Fasterfox - Apparently speeds it up

Greasemonkey - Allows all kinds of scripts to be added to change the way certain sites look.

Session Manager - If your comp crashes, it remembers where you were.
posted by tomw at 11:27 AM on October 24, 2006

NoScript -- gives you site-level control on a temporary or permanent basis over which sites are allowed to use Javascript. I normally don't cotton to anything whitelist-based, but NoScript is so easy to use, I don't mind it in the slightest.

I also strongly second Web Developer if you do any kind of web work, and I couldn't survive without my sweet blessed RSS sidebar from Sage.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 11:54 AM on October 24, 2006

FF 2 has clickable Xs to close tabs now (like Safari), so Tab X doesn't seem to be necessary.
posted by terrapin at 11:56 AM on October 24, 2006

Definitely pick up Greasemonkey. Not all of the solutions you find for it are rock solid, but they're easy enough to toggle on/off.

I absolutely require Web Developer and Mouse Gestures. If I'm on another machine without it (friends, parents, random), I'm rude enough to install them (after installing Firefox, heh).

IE View Lite - instead of opening a faux IE tab within FF as suggested by other plug ins, it adds "Open this page in IE" to the right click options.

Dictionary Search - when you select a word/phrase and right click, you can search the selected text using any parameters you've set up (Wiki, M-W, urbandictionary, etc.)

PDF Download - allows you to control how you manage PDF links; choose whether to download, open (in acrobat viewer), or view as html.
posted by littlelebowskiurbanachiever at 12:13 PM on October 24, 2006

Verizon Minutes Used.
posted by yeti at 2:21 PM on October 24, 2006

A standard feature in Firefox is that you can highlight a text url, drag it to the tab bar, and it will open that site in a new tab. I find it easier and more intuitive than Fetch Text Url and have been using it instead since I read about it here.

I consider the following extensions essential:

For control over my sensory inputs, these are required at minimum:
Adblock.filterset.g Updater
Adblock Plus

I'm a tab freak, speed read pages, middle-clicking on any interesting links and close before moving on. There are a variety of extensions that facilitate tab use and I install them all immediately on any new box:
Crash Recovery Lite Recovers your open tabs after a crash
New Tab Button on Tab Bar
New Tab HomePage
Too many tabs!
Tabs Open Relative

The rest do a variety of useful things:
Download statusbar
a customized version of Sage RSS reader. Mine is tab oriented, marks all items read when you close a tab.
Google Pagerank Status
Greasemonkey + mefi navigator, and others
Text size toolbar
Searchbar Autosizer

I haven't made the jump to FF2.0 yet, because I didn't much like an early version, and I suspect many of my extensions won't work.
posted by Manjusri at 2:56 PM on October 24, 2006

and my latest discovery ErrorZilla which makes a much more useful timeout page.
posted by Manjusri at 2:59 PM on October 24, 2006

I guess as slight derail to this question - which of the aforementioned favourite extensions are compatible with Firefox 2.0 so far?
posted by TrashyRambo at 3:15 PM on October 24, 2006

I guess as slight derail to this question - which of the aforementioned favourite extensions are compatible with Firefox 2.0 so far?

I spent a while last night searching through Firefox extensions and almost none of my favorites (many listed above) are compatible. I'm going to make the switch anyway. I'm sure they'll catch up soon.
posted by bda1972 at 3:28 PM on October 24, 2006

Flashblock is mandatory. For old-school ads, I just right-click and select "Block images from this server."

(Another slight derail -- given the above, what's the utility of Adblock?)

BugMeNot, Uppity and Copy URL (the last is very new to me, and so useful for link harvesting!)

And of course Greasemonkey, for the Google Image Relinker and Salon Premium Pass.
posted by Rash at 4:32 PM on October 24, 2006

If it helps, here are all my Firefox extension links in Delicious.
posted by JPowers at 6:54 PM on October 24, 2006

Here's what I use:

Gcache: For those times when a page loads incredibly slowly or not at all, you can just right-click and get the Google cache of the page. Very handy.

superT, QuickTabPrefToggle, Tab Clicking Options: Customize your tabs however you want them—how to move between tabs, whether tabs can steal focus from other tabs, whether everything should open in new tabs or in new windows, etc.

Nuke Anything Enhanced: You can remove anything you don't want to see on a page (e.g. super-annoying bright! flashing! ads!) by right-clicking on it or around it.

Bookmark Backup: Want to make sure your bookmarks can survive a move between versions of Firefox and/or can easily be moved to a new install? Use this.

Linkification, URL Link, text/plain: All of these convert plain-text URLs to clickable links. Invaluable, esp. when you frequent forums where people always forget to make their URLs into links.

Print It!, Image Zoom: These just make the normal Firefox print and image view functions a little more customizable.

ColorZilla: If you do anything with images, sometimes you want to color-match things. This in-browser eyedropper can tell you what color things like, say, the AskMeFi background are.

Session Manager: I wouldn't recommend getting this extension, but rather one with similar functionality that works better. What it does: saves all open URLs/tabs for you if the browser crashes, then (ideally) allows you to reopen them, just as they were, when you reopen the browser. Should also let you click or ctrl-click or right-click or whatever you want in the tab bar to restore an accidentally closed tab...but mine doesn't seem to let me do that anymore.

GeoURL: This is more of a fun one—when you enable it, it lets you see if a Web page includes ICBM tags, which pinpoint the owner's location in latitude and longitude. Then you can click and see who else is located nearby, via the GeoURL site.

BugMeNot: Last on my list, but ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. This can get you into any site that someone has listed a username/password for, without the need to go through a 10-minute registration process or give them personal information.
posted by limeonaire at 9:37 PM on October 24, 2006

I'm going to second Tab Mix Plus. The essential-to-me extensions are TMP, Gmail Manager, and Add Bookmark Here. TMP is the one I really can't go without, though I actually had to look hard at my extensions to figure out which one it was--it adds a "open links in new tabs" option to my context menu, and whenever I try to use a browser without the option (even when I'm in ieTab, which changes the context menu back to IE's with everything else), I get annoyed.
posted by Cricket at 1:13 AM on October 25, 2006

Handy for design work:
Web Developer

Useful for the spell checker and PageRank indicator:
Google Toolbar for Firefox

Social bookmarking: post

Handy for sites that make your eyes bleed:
posted by wheat at 7:24 AM on October 25, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great answers, everyone! There's so many helpful comments that I won't mark any one as "best."
posted by myeviltwin at 7:32 AM on October 25, 2006

First off, congrats for switching from Safari to Firefox - while Safari is nice and clean and fast, there is NO substitute for Firefox's amazing core functionality and all the add-ons. It is truly what the Web is meant to be seen with. Enjoy :)

I hope nobody minds that I did this, but I posted my list - I have a few duplicates to what's been posted, but also some gems - like Listzilla, which generated the list of extensions for me ;) - that are definitely worth using. Most of them are heavy in the web development camp, but lots of them are essential for everyday use.

Yes, I use a lot of these extensions. Yes, I'm up to 39 of them. Yes, I probably have some sort of addiction (not like that crazy guy who installed 129 of them), but some of them are just brilliant - like the gods who created BetterSearch, Book Burro, Sort Extensions, and so on. If you have questions about a particular one, let me know and I'll give you a quick run down - or can annotate the list as necessary.

Generated Wed Oct 25 2006 10:04:36 GMT-0700 (PDT)

Enabled Extensions: (39)
Aardvark 1.1
Adblock Plus 0.7.2
Attention Recorder 0.64
Autofill 0.3
BaseCode 1.0.1
BetterSearch 1.12
blueorganizer 1.1
Book Burro - Remixing the bookstore 0.30
Breeze 1.5.3
BugMeNot 1.3
CustomizeGoogle 0.54 1.1
Favicon Picker 0.3.0
FireBug 0.4.1
GooglePreview 2.0
GTDGmail 1.23
HashColouredTabs 0.3.3
Image Zoom 0.2.7
ListZilla 0.8
MeasureIt 0.3.6
Noia 2.0 (eXtreme) 3.1
PDF Download 0.7.6
Phoenity 1.5.906
Qute 3.0.4
SEO For Firefox 2.0.3b
Shazou 1.0
Sort Extensions and Themes 3.0.2
StumbleUpon 2.88
Tab Control 0.2.3
View Cookies 1.6
View Source Chart 2.4.05
Web Developer 1.0.2
Work Offline 1.3

Disabled Extensions: (5)
Basics 1.0
Checky 2.5
fireFTP 0.88.3
MapIt! 0.7.1
Scrumptious 0.6

Total = 44
posted by rmm at 10:18 AM on October 25, 2006

I think next time we do this - probably within a few months because of 2.0 - we make it mandatory to provide links to the scripts and a short rundown of the basics.

Thanks for the Screengrab suggestion ceri richard!

One I love in addition to a bunch of those listed (and ConQuery is the one I would prevent being wrenched from my cold dead hand) is Translate - to english from the top 12 or so languages, from the right click context menu. [cache : site is temporarily down]
posted by peacay at 9:34 AM on October 26, 2006

so this is my list:

all-in-one sidebar
diigo toolbar
favicon picker

tab mix plus
tabbrowser preferences

web developer
posted by juniorbonner at 2:34 PM on October 27, 2006

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