There are two huge reasons to use Firefox. One is the much touted security factor. Firefox has less critical flaws than Internet Explorer, and the Mozilla folks tend to patch flaws much quicker (usually within a week of any exploit being discovered) than Microsoft. Internet Explorer actually has critical flaws that are more than a year old! The second reason to use Firefox is this: it's simply better browsing.
The feature that makes Firefox the most useful in my opinion are extensions. Extensions are third party add-ins that can change the way Firefox behaves, and add functionality. The great thing about this is that you can install just the features you need and use, and ignore the rest.
To that end, I've decided to list the extensions that I have installed. Just follow the links if you see one that you think might be useful to you.
ScreenGrab!- This great extension allows you to make nice screen captures of whole web pages, not just everything "above the fold".
All-In-One Sidebar- This is probably my favorite extension. It lets you view almost anything in the sidebar, your installed extensions, downloads, themes, websites, history, bookmarks, etc. It also adds some great features too extensive to list. You have to try it out to understand.
BetterSearch- This cool extension adds thumbnail previews and added information to your search results for Google, A9, Yahoo, del.icio.us, and a few other search engines as well.
Google Toolbar for Firefox- I probably don't have to explain this to anybody. The same toolbar you can get in IE, is also available for Firefox. Simply indispensible. Too many features to list.
Popup Count- This extension isn't strictly necessary. I just like it because I'm a nerd and like to know these things. Popup Count counts how many popups get blocked by Firefox and displays it very unobtrusively in the status bar.
Flashblock- Another indispensible extension. This prevents Flash elements on a page from loading, instead presenting you with a cool looking button. That way you can choose what Flash content you want to see.
MenuX- How to describe this extension. It does everything! It's main purpose is to give you little toolbar icons for just about everything, make your own custom toolbar for Firefox! A really great extension especially for "power" users.
ScrapBook- A really useful extension. This lets you save entire web pages, or elements of web pages (images, text, Flash elements, frames, etc.) exactly as they are seen in the browser. Really neat.
del.icio.us Firefox extension- I'm a power del.icio.us user. The social bookmarking service recently released this extension that integrates del.icio.us with Firefox. It gives you a menu, buttons for tagging sites, and for visiting your own del.icio.us page. It works great. If you use del.icio.us, you gotta have this.
ColorZilla- I use this one a lot. ColorZilla puts a little eyedropper tool in your status bar that lets you find the exact color code for any color you see in a web page. This is really useful for people that make graphics or web designers. I use it to make antipixel buttons that match the sites they're for.
IE View- I don't use this one a lot, but it's useful when I do need it. Occasionally, I come across a page that doesn't play well with Firefox. Think anything with Active X on it. When that happens, this extension lets me right click on the page and open it in IE from the context menu.
WebmailCompose- This gem lets me use my webmail for all those mailto: links on web pages. It also lets you use the check e-mail button in Firefox with your webmail.
Context Search- This extension adds all the sites in my Firefox search box to the context search. "Huh?", you say? If you highlight a word on a page in Firefox and then right click you can search the web for that term. This extension adds the option to search not just Google, but any of the sites you have put into your search box in Firefox with a search plugin (more on those next week). The extension is an old one and hasn't been updated for some time, but it works with 1.5 and works well.
Favicon Picker- This one lets you assign a favicon to a bookmark and keep it that way. Warning that that link is directly to the xpi file. So if you click on it, you'll be installing it. It's the latest version compatible with Firefox 1.5 and because of various reasons, only available at that link.
Tab Mix Plus- This extension allows more (a lot more) options for tabbed browsing within Firefox. Make your tabs act the way you want them to. There are several different tab extensions available for Firefox, but this one has the most options and it plays well with other extensions.
Menu Editor- A great extension that lets you edit the context (right-click) menu. With all these extensions, there's bound to be commands and menu items that you don't use. Get rid of them with this extension (don't worry you can get them back).
Nuke Anything Enhanced- This extension let's you get rid of any element on a page. Very useful for printing. Just remove the stuff you don't want to print. Has an undo feature in case you remove too much.
Copy Plain Text- This lets you copy text from a web page without any formatting, like fonts, color, etc. You'll use it more than you think.
Google Send to Phone- I don't have a cell phone. I know, gasp! I've just always found them to be more of a distraction than actually helpful. My sister, on the other hand who is also my best friend, lives on her cell phone. With this extension I can send her little text messages like "Call Me", "Come over for dinner", or "What's wrong with you, you look all emo." (inside joke, sorry).
So there you have it. My master list of useful extensions that everybody must have.
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