Expand the Capabilities of Firefox with Extensions

Firefox is continuing to grow in user numbers, with over 8 million users downloading the 3rd version of the browser on its June 18th release day, a world record for a software download. The worldwide market share of Firefox topped 19% by the end of June (story). One of the biggest appeals of Firefox for me is the number of ways the browser can be customized, particularly with the use of add-ons, called extensions, which have been created by a worldwide collection of web-based companies, software designers, and Firefox users. I wanted to share a few of the extensions which I have found particularly useful, in no particular order.

  1. Del.icio.us Bookmarks–This extension includes a toolbar and browser buttons, which make adding new Del.icio.us links much faster, through a popup window that requests a site description and tags, then automatically adds a link to a Del.icio.us account. The toolbar lists recently added sites.
  2. Google Notebook–This very handy extension opens up a Google Notebook in a popup window, allowing easy note creation while browsing.
  3. Clipmarks–Another note-taking tool, this extension allows desired pieces of web pages to be highlighted and “clipped”, then saved to a Clipmarks account.
  4. Scribefire–A very handy extension, Scribefire allows users to create blog posts for a variety of sites. Posts can be published immediately or saved for later. The interface opens in the bottom half of the browser window, allowing other sites to be viewed simultaneously. Users can add most of the content which is possible in the standard blogging platform, such as hyperlinks, images, video, etc.
  5. Trailfire–This extension allows users to add custom notes to web pages and to create linked “trails” for visitors to follow. Marked pages are given a unique URL, which can be shared with students or others. Users must have a Trailfire account (free, of course!).
  6. WOT (Web of Trust)–I recently added this extension. WOT uses user-generated ratings to evaluate sites on categories including trustworthiness, privacy, vendor reliability, and child safety. Links of rated sites display a circular symbol ranging from green (very safe) to red (very unsafe).
  7. Zotero–This is a very useful tool for conducting online research and generating citations or bibliographies. Sites and offline resources can be added to users’ collections. The site supports all of the most common citation formats, as well, including MLA, APA, CMS, and more. Absolutely keeps me from running back to the manual as often!
  8. Adblock Plus–Adblock Plus is an extension which blocks most embedded advertising in web pages, which results in much faster download times. As a teacher who has dealt with inappropriate ads in surprising sites, it also offers a good deal of peace of mind in the classroom.
  9. PicLens–Interesting and fun add-on which allows users to view all of the images within a site in a 3-dimensional window.
  10. Stumblupon–Stumbleupon is another example of a social bookmarking site. The Stumbleupon extension allows quick access to users’ accounts, and offers the Stumble! button, as well. This will open a random site which is geared towards the interests of the user. While some are not of much use, I have been very surprised at the wide variety of useful sites I have found using this extension.
  11. HyperwordsHyperwords–Another extension I recently added, Hyperwords allows users to right click on any word on a website, then access reference information on the word, such as common search engines, online dictionary entries, wikipedia references, etc.

This is just a small taste of the many extensions available, of course. I use several more, including Forecastfox, Weblin, ReadItLater, and Me.dium, to name a few. One of my favorites, Gdocsbar, which allows drag-and-drop adding and retrieval of documents to Google Documents, has not been updated for Firefox 3, but users of previous versions should check it out. If you have other extensions you would like to share, please do so!

5 Comments

  1. Hey Randy,

    Great list. Some I have and a few I am installing now.

    Here are a few that I can’t live without.

    Tab Mix Plus – extra features with tabs as well as auto reload for web pages like twitter.
    tmp.garyr.net/

    Picnik – Screencapture tool that lets you edit the pics in Picnik and also send them right to Flickr.
    http://www.picnik.com/

    FireGestures – Mouse gestures to make your web browsing more efficient and faster.
    http://www.xuldev.org/firegestures/

    Auto Copy – Highlight anything and it is automatically copied to the clipboard. Auto copy should be in every app. 99% of the time we highlight to copy.
    autocopy.mozdev.org/

    Diigo Bookmarks and Web Annotations – similar to Delicious and capable of posting to Delicious, this social bookmarking site and tool allows for highlighting and commenting on web sites that you bookmark. The groups and friends list is a great way to integrate this into a school. Watch for Edu-Diigo that is coming.
    http://www.diigo.com/

  2. Those are great suggestions, Fred! After NECC, I resolved to give Diigo more attention. I have Tab Mix Plus on another machine–great tool. I’m also a BIG fan of Picnik–I definitely will check that one and the others out. Thanks!

  3. I am still waiting for the PhotoFox update to make it FF 3 friendly. Soon, hopefully. I miss it.

    I’ll try a few of the ones you listed. I have been avoiding Diigo since it seems like overload for what I do, but Miguel started a Thinkfinity Diigo account. I am getting Thinkfinity trained, I figured I better get used to it.

  4. Nice list. I use most of those, but there were a few here that were new to me. I haven’t been using Google Notebook since I started using Evernote, though. They make a pretty nice FF extension for that, too.

  5. Thank, Rick. I glanced at Evernote once, but I will give it another look!

    Scott, I’m finally set up with Diigo. It does have some nice features. I’ll put it to the test once school is back in swing. Good seeing you again at NECC!

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