How to Harness the Power of Firefox Add-ons

Firefox Browser LogoFirefox add-ons are applications that allow you to enhance your browser by adding functionality and style.

You can check the weather and news, block ads, download videos, take full-page screen shots, customize tabs, play games, compare prices, backup, interact with social media, and so much more, just by utilizing Firefox add-ons.

From your menu bar, simply click Tools > Add-ons, and you can browse or search through the hundreds of thousands of add-ons available.

Alternatively, you can visit the Firefox Add-ons web page.

The available categories are: Alerts & Updates, Appearance, Bookmarks, Download Management, Feeds, News & Blogging, Games & Entertainment, Language Support, Photos, Music & Videos, Privacy & Security, Search Tools, Shopping, Social & Communication, Tabs, Web Development and Other

For all that I love the endless possibilities that Firefox add-ons provide, it turns out I don’t use very many of them.

One can get carried away, install too many add-ons, and bog down a browser to where it becomes sluggish and non-responsive.

It would take quite a few add-ons to accomplish that particular feat.

I like to stick to a self-imposed limit of no more than 25 add-ons at any given time, so I “clean house” a few times a year to remove add-ons that I no longer use.

It justifies installing new ones. 😛

As an example of the possibilities that add-ons can provide, here’s a list of my current favorites:

1. Adblock Plus – Adblock Plus blocks all annoying ads, and supports websites by not blocking unobtrusive ads by default (configurable).

2. After the Deadline – An intelligent grammar, style, and spell checker.

3. ColorZilla – Advanced Eyedropper, Color Picker, Gradient Generator and other colorful goodies…

4. Download Manager (S3) – View and manage downloads from a tidy statusbar.

5. & 6. Video DownloadHelper and Flash Video Downloader – Both of these add-ons help you to download video files (flv, mp4, etc.) from websites for later viewing.

7. MeasureIt – Draw a ruler across any webpage to check the width, height, or alignment of page elements in pixels.

8. Nimbus Screen Capture – Screen capture Web Page, selected region or whole browser window, edit screenshots and save the images to Local File or Google Drive.

9. Pin It Button – Pin it and send your Pins to Pinterest quickly and easily with Pinterest Pin Button.

Many add-ons have options that allow you to customize exactly how they work and/or how visible they are to you.

Now, although I have been using the term “add-on” this whole time, what we have discussed so far have been a sub-category of add-ons, called Extensions.

(If you want to get technical.)

There is another add-on sub-category, called Themes.

Firefox Themes change how the browser looks.

Background themes add an image to the toolbars, and change the color scheme.

Complete themes change the appearance of your entire browser, including icons, menus, etc.

Currently, themes are broken down into the following fifteen categories: Abstract, Causes, Fashion, Film and TV, Firefox, Foxkeh, Holiday, Music, Nature, Other, Scenery, Seasonal, Solid, Sports, and Websites

One of my favorite themes is actually too distracting to use on a daily basis.

Foxkeh Hanging Upside Down is less much distracting, and pretty cute, too. I like to use Frogs V7 from time to time, but if flowers are more your cup of tea, my sister’s favorite theme is Lilac Prediction, although she recently switched to Little Flowers.

Installation & Removal

To install an extension, simply click Install or Add to Firefox from where you are viewing the extension.

To remove an extension, go to Menu > Add-ons > Extensions, and click the Disable or Remove button of the extension in question.

To install a theme, simply click Add or Add to Firefox from where you are viewing the theme.

To remove a theme, go to Menu > Add-ons > Appearance, and click on either the Disable or Remove button of the theme in question.

At times, when either installing or removing an extension, the browser will need to restart before the change can be applied.

For more information about add-ons, the Mozilla Add-on FAQ is a great resource.

What are your favorite add-ons, and why?

Bonus points if you can list off the top of you head how many add-ons you currently have installed.

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