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Firefox extensions Thunderbird extensions Firefox & Thunderbird extensions Desired Firefox functionality Desired Thunderbird functionality 

If you are still surfing with IE it’s like riding a bike with your hands tied behind your back. Firefox will change the way you surf. A handy feature is clicking Ctrl+Enter when you have typed something in the address bar and it will add http://www and .com to the word.

It’s been great since it first started as Phoenix in 2002 and has been designed in such a way that extensions can be added and there are many of them out there. If you think of something you do when surfing repeatedly, there probably is an extension to make you more productive. Here are the extensions which I use which very creatively enhance your browsing experience.

Firefox everyday extensions

In no particular order:

Extension Note
Tab Mix Plus Invaluable, this is by far the most powerful extension. Here are a few things you can set in the options :
  • Links: Javascript popups : Open all popups in tabs
  • Links: Prevent blank tabs when downloading files
  • Events: Opening: Bookmarks & history & search bar & address bar in new tabs
  • Events: Tab Features: Enable undo close tabs
  • Events: Tab Focus: Turn off focus tabs that open from links
  • Display: Tab: uncheck close tab button. I now find this feature takes up too much screen space and use the middle mouse button to close a tab, which is default functionality
  • Display: Tab bar: Uncheck Hide tab bar when only one tab is open
  • Display: Tab bar: uncheck Extra Spaces On both Sides gives more room for tabs
Session Manager Session manager is more powerful than Firefox’s inbuilt one & Tab Mix Plus’s, which I used to use. Like those ones, it automatically saves all your tabs (a session), but has lots more functionality, including a way (not completely seamless) of moving sessions between different machines. If firefox crashes it saves the session and you can decide to leave any problem tabs out of a reload – superb.
BugMeNot Great for accessing all those newspapers you have to login to read, etc – you won’t need a login for them :-)
WikiPedia Lookup Extension More and more I find this should be my first port of call if I am looking for info. Has a great sidebar as well.
Download Statusbar No more annoying download popup but you still can see the progress.
Awesome Highlighter I discovered both Cite Bite and the Awesome Highlighter recently, for anyone who passes on text of web pages via email they are a worthwhile boon. Awesome Highlighter takes it a step further by allowing you to highlight multiple passages and give you a shorturl which will show your emphasises. Better still you can sign up for a free account and start building up research references, just like soft copies with a highlighter.
Dictionary Lookup Used Dictionary search (which I still uses for TB), until I discovered Dictionary Tooltip, defaults to the free dictionary but can choose to see other definition sources from a dropdown. However now I use Dictionary Lookup which takes it one step further by presenting the defintion in a sub menu.
SpeedDial Add a drop down menu button to your toolbar with sites you visit frequently. Select putting button on toolbar when you install. You can then access these site with ctrl+1, etc, very handy.
Note to free up more space on your Bookmark toolbar you can add folders and drag other toolbar items to the folder (or do via Bookmarks | Organise Bookmarks).
ColorfulTabs Helps finding things if you have lots of tabs open. Works great with Tree Style Tabs.
GSpace One of the reasons Firefox is indespensible. This turns a google mail account into a ftp site with 8.8GB limit. So open a gmail account share it bewteen friends and you can use it to pass files between each other. Absolutely astonishing.
Tree Style Tab Showcase can help to find your tabs but if you work with a lot open having a treeview along the side can be quiet nice.
Email This! Frequently I see some text on a web page and want to email it with the link. I have used various methods for this (see AllCustomizedLinks/Copy Url in retired section below). I was excited to make this discovery. With a right click now you have the option to open an email with the title set to the webpage title and the selected text and url appearing in the body. So useful.
Google Redesigned Changing themes helps the look but this is the business!
Commentful I used to use the now defunct co.mments to track the comments on blog posts, this extension is arguably a better solution.
QuickDrag Actually this is great, highlight some text, drag it, let go and it will do a google search.
Find Toolbar Tweaks I have my taskbar autohidden but it does not always hide and I got so sick of not being able to see the find search bar at the bottom – this extension moves it to the top, like IE & chrome Ctrl+F also closes the search bar.
BarTap Do you keep a lot of tabs open and are sick of the loading time, BarTap, come to the rescue, not loading each tab until you visit it.

Firefox extensions – falling out of my favour?

All-in-One Sidebar Finally I found a way to access multiple sidebars easily. Toggle between bookmarks, history and scrapbook. Have not been using of late.
Scrapbook Sometimes a bookmark is not enough, you want to remember some text from a page for something you are working on. Have not been using the Scrapbook of late.
Showcase If you have lots of tabs open sometimes it can be hard to find the one you want, this pops up a thumbnail of each page. I used to use Viamatic foXpose, I then moved onto Reveal and loved the F2 functionality of it but when that was not updated for Firefox 2 I moved onto Showcase. I miss the F2 funntionality of Reveal but you are meant to be able to plug in keyConfig (see Showcase options – Shortcuts) and get equivalent funtionality with F12 but that has not worked for me yet. Have not been using since I started using Tree style tabs.

Firefox occasional use extensions

Extension Note
IE Tab Occasionally a page gives problems, this allows it to be checked in IE. This can be used to keep an eye on a 2nd gmail account at the same time as one open in a normal tab.
Nuke Anything Enhanced Seldom used, but when something is annoying you on a page you are reading, this is the business.
DownThemAll! Ever want to download a bunch of tunes or pix from a page. I used to use a website ripper (WinHTTrack) before this came along.
StumbleUpon Pick some categories that interest you and you never know what you will find, really worth having a spin of this.
Mouse Gestures I think this perhaps merits persisting with more, it means changing some habits but is possibly worthwhile.

FireFox developer extensions

Developer Note
Venkman Javascript debugger If you use Javascript this is an invaluable debugger allowing you to step through the script line by line as it executes.
View Source Chart If you ever look at the source code of web pages this is invaluable.
Firebug Of interest only if you want to see the inner workings of web pages, Just discovered this, absolutely amazing. Breaks down a html page and shows css/javascript, etc, you can even do live editing seemingly. The above View Source Code might become redundant.
Web Developer
Infolister Get a nice list of your extensions. Since my laptop was robbed last I am extra cautious about backups now and this helps for setting up a new machine, in addition to these pages of course :-)
Mozilla Archive Format MAFF files are standard ZIP files containing metadata which allows Firefox to open them. Returning to this component as the save as html only is not always reliable.

FireFox retired extensions

Retired Note
TinyURL Creator I find using DQSD much handier for this.
Chickenfoot I normally don’t go tweaking mad but it really annoyed me when google moved the link for groups. Using this tweaker and the script one set a trigger for http://www.google.com/* and the link showed fine. Then google brought back groups to the main page.
ListZilla Stopped being maintained and not compatible with ff3. Infolister replaced.
Copy URL+ I used to use AllCustomizedLinks which allows context sensitive bookmarks and had a Javascript bookmarklet which (I have now lost) open a new email with the selected text pasted into it. Now I can use this externsion to Copy URL + Title + Selection to the keyboard, I have to then open a new email and paste…not an elegant solution but tell me a more efficient way to achieve same?. This is no longer suppported – so it’s back to cut and paste. Now use Email this! extension.
Google Notebook Similar to Scrapbook, except it’s an interface to Google notebook, so the contents are stored online. Good if you want some notes to be shareable between multiple computers. Requires a gmail account. To have it accessible in the sidebar like Scrapbook, rather than the small default window, drag this bookmark to your bookmark toolbar, right click, select properties and select load this bookmark in the sidebar. Have not been using Google notebook of late, instead I find myself emailing my self messages of such notes and I need to re-evaluate habits. Update: On 14 January 2009, Google announced they were stopping development of Google notebook. I have now started to experiment more with Evernote – they also have a goggle notebook importer which works well.

Thunderbird everyday extensions

You can add a custom dictionary (eg. english UK) from Options | Composition | Spelling.

The invaluable extensions I use, in no particular order:

QuickText Can be used for signatures and often used text in emails.
Quote collapse This makes working with replied email / email chains a dream.
Dictionary Search Dictionary Lookup does not work for TB so use this instead.
Forward So you want to do a reply to someone quoting the date of the previous email send/received – this is the ticket with inline forwarding!
Mail Redirect If you have occasion to be forwarding emails between account but would like for the original headers to be retained as opposed to the forward information. Delivery seems to work a little slower for me but it does what it says on the can very well.
Extra Folder Columns In TB 2 one was able to have an extra column to show the number of messages in every folder – very useful if keeping an eye on your tags. In TB 3 you need this extension.

Thunderbird occasional use extensions

Occasional Note
MoreColsForAddressBook If you want to export your address book as a vcard (vcf file) this is superb. You can also use it to rename the custom fields on the other tab.
MboxImport Previously I have had problems with Thunderbird and have had to reload some mailboxes from backups using this extension. It turned out my files had got corrupted as I had not compacted folders (now I have selected Tools | Options |Advanced | Disk Space | Compact folders when it will save over 100 KB) and defragmented in ages.
Lightning If you are hanging onto Outlook at work because of the calendar, now with Lightning, there is no longer any need! I was using Google Calendar more before I found the Provider extension (which allows google calendars to be in sync here, see below), now I still use in but through Thunderbird.
Provider Allows Lightning calendar to be in sync with multiple google calendars. Fantastic stuff. Go into the settings of your google calendar and copy the xml private address which you then add as a calendar in Lightning. Events are added in google when they are added in Lightning.

Thunderbird retired extensions

Retired Note
nntpthreads I used this to colour codes watched messages in newsgroups but this can be done with Tags now.
QuickQuote Quick Quote is redundant with TB v3 as it has the native ability to quote only the selected text.

FireFox & Thunderbird everyday extensions

Url Link You know the way you get an email with the url broken over a number of lines or you find an unclickable link on a site, well this solves that problem!
AutoCopy Highlight text and it is copied to your clipboard. Find an update for Thunderbird 2.0 here.
Copy Plain text For copying text snippets (that you don’t need to scrapbook) from the web and emails this is invaluable as it strips all the formatting. Here is a version that works for Thunderbird 2.0
MinimizeToTray Get TB and FF out of the way but still have them right there, perfect, what I always needed.

If you are concerned about memory use, them you can set things up so that Firefox uses a lot less memory when minimised:
  1. Open Firefox and go to the Address Bar, type in about:config and then press Enter.
  2. Right Click in the page and select New -> Boolean.
  3. In the box that pops up enter config.trim_on_minimize. Press Enter.
  4. Now select True and then press Enter.
  5. Restart Firefox.
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