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Exploring Firefox Extensions 484

Posted by Hemos
from the learning-more-about-it dept.
Gary writes "If you haven't made the switch to Mozilla Firefox it may be because you aren't aware of the great benefits Firefox has over IE. Flexbeta has posted a nice HOWTO guide on Firefox extensions; my favorite is the Target Alert extension which displays a small graphic next to links that are not web pages. For example a mailto: link will display a small envelope, a link to a PDF file will display a small Adobe icon, etc."
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Exploring Firefox Extensions

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  • FireFox features I can't live without:

    1. Middle click to open link in new window/tab
    2. Find as you type
    3. Themes/Skins/Chromes
    4. Customizable toolbars
    5. Plugins that allow me to put just about anything on the toolbars
    6. Great development tools - javascript console, venkman debugger, live-headers plugin

    All that boils down to:

    1. Easier to use
    2. Easier to customize
    3. Broader advanced feature set
  • Tabs (Score:4, Informative)

    by frankthechicken (607647) on Monday September 06, 2004 @08:43AM (#10167867) Journal
    Tabbrowser extensions [], to get the tabs reacting the way I want(i.e everything in the same browser window, middle mouse click on the tabbar opens an accidently closed tab).

    And for browsing Slashdot, this [] kind of helps.
  • by huphtur (259961) on Monday September 06, 2004 @08:45AM (#10167874)
    ...has to be Web Developer [].
    A MUST for every webnerd.
    It even lets you edit CSS live on the web.
  • adblock (Score:5, Informative)

    by seanismdotcom (746929) <signup&seanism,com> on Monday September 06, 2004 @08:45AM (#10167877) Homepage Journal
    adblock is one of the greatest extensions I must say. Adblock along with the following filter block 98% of ads..

    [Adblock] /[\W\d][Aa]d(server|s|remote)?[\W\d]/ /[\W\d][Bb]anner(s|id\=)?[\W\d]/ /[\W\d][Ss]ponsors?[\W\d]/ /amazon\.com.*\W(promotions|marketing|merchants|st ores|associates)\W/ /yimg\.com.*\W(a|flash)\W/
  • by qshapadooy (134224) on Monday September 06, 2004 @08:50AM (#10167908)

    Preference Name: image.animation_mode
    Value: once
  • Adblock (Score:5, Informative)

    by strider44 (650833) on Monday September 06, 2004 @08:50AM (#10167909)
    As extensions go, nothing beats adblock [].
  • Re:Switch tabs ? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Luthwyhn (527835) on Monday September 06, 2004 @08:53AM (#10167921)
    No extension needed... just use Ctrl + #
  • Re:Switch tabs ? (Score:3, Informative)

    by qshapadooy (134224) on Monday September 06, 2004 @08:54AM (#10167927)
    You were so close. Control+[1-9] goes to tab 1-9.

    Then there's always Control+Tab/Shift Tab or Control+PageUp/Down to go to next/previous tabs.
  • Wikalong (Score:5, Informative)

    by phUnBalanced (128965) on Monday September 06, 2004 @08:54AM (#10167929) Homepage
    A little blatant self promotion. (I apologize)

    I've written up a little extension called Wikalong [].

    Basically, it puts a wiki in your sidebar, that is indexed off the current page you are viewing. The wiki is online so anyone using the plugin, that visits a page you make notes on will see your notes, and vice versa.

    It doesn't work perfectly yet, but I'm hoping to attract some smarter people than I to help get it straightened out.

    More details on the site I linked above.

  • by SimplePaul (807846) on Monday September 06, 2004 @09:05AM (#10167996)
    1. Right-click on an image
    2. Select 'Copy Image'
    3. Paste into mspaint, Photoshop, etc.

    This works fine in FireFox 0.9.3
  • Some useful links (Score:5, Informative)

    by t7 (591821) on Monday September 06, 2004 @09:05AM (#10167997) Homepage [] has a nice collection of extensions you may not find on mozilla's dev site.

    Some extensions I'm currently using:
    Flat Bookmark Editing []
    Add Bookmark Here []
    CuteMenus []
    Paste and Go []
    Gmail Notifier [](Still works)

    Free iPods? Sure. []
  • by tfreport (458641) on Monday September 06, 2004 @09:08AM (#10168017)
    You installed an extension for this? Try following these steps:

    1. Right-click on any of the icons (say the home icon) and choose 'Customize'.

    2. Choose small icons.

    3. Then drag all icons and bars (such as the URL and Search) into the top menu bar. Everything should now be along the top. And if there are any icons you do not want or need, simply drag them onto the Customize Box.

    4. But you say, there are still two bars without anything in them. Correct. Solve that by going 'View' > 'Toolbars' > and unselect both 'Navigation Toolbar' and 'Bookmark Toolbar.'

    Not that the way you did it is wrong. Just that you will want to know about the feature of Customizing for other uses.
  • Flashblock (Score:4, Informative)

    by Artichoke (34549) on Monday September 06, 2004 @09:09AM (#10168021) Homepage

    Flashblock [] replaces Macromedia Flash animations with a button you have to click to download and run the animation. Most uses of Flash are abominations to me; I like to choose when to consume it.

    Gripe wrt Macromedia: a couple of days back I installed the latest and greatest Flash player from Macromedia on my WinXP box and it uninstalled Flashblock for me.

    Better yet: it also prevents subsequent (re-)installation of Flashblock.

    Solution: download Flaskblock.xpi, unzip it, mod so that it installs under a nom de guerre, rezip and install.

    Anybody at Macromedia, if you're listening: STOP BEING NAUGHTY.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 06, 2004 @09:15AM (#10168058)
    Actually you now can copy image directly from firefox, time to switch her back!

    I also held back for a long time for the exact same reason. There is an extension for mozilla that does it, but in Firefox 0.9 there is a "copy image" function built in when you right click on any image.

  • by ubiquitin (28396) * on Monday September 06, 2004 @09:37AM (#10168188) Homepage Journal
    Pssssst. What really revolutionized my browsing and will make it very hard for me to switch away from FireFox is AdBlock []. Right-click on any image, flash animation, or iframe, and you can permanently add it to a block list. (Sshhhhh Don't tell anyone, but I don't see ads on slashdot, CNN, NYTimes, or any of my favorite periodicals any more.) If there was a way to keep a centralized list of blocked sites or an easy way to import and export the lists, then you'd have a real-time distributed content-blocking system.
  • My extensions (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sunspire (784352) on Monday September 06, 2004 @09:37AM (#10168194)
    Here's some extensions I like that I haven't seen mentioned yet:

    Magpie []. Those who've used FlashGet with IE will love this little thing. It'll snatch all the files pointed to by links from a page according to some pattern, for example *jpg, and save them to disk or open them up as tabs. Great for collecting "nature pictures".

    Firefox's bookmark dialog's "Create in" feature pisses me off. It never, ever, has the folders you need in it's puny little drop down. OpenBook [] removes it and replaces it with the full bookmarks folder tree.

    You can reorder tabs with MiniT [] using simple drag and drop on the tab bar. I think this should maybe be added to Firefox itself, it's pretty basic functionality.
  • by gtaluvit (218726) on Monday September 06, 2004 @09:46AM (#10168242)
    about:config will solve 1. for you. Put "about:config" in your menubar. On that page, find font.FreeType2.autohinted and set it to true. Do the same for font.FreeType2.enable. Set font.FreeType2.unhinted to false. Also, for number 3, ensure that you go to preferences and that you have Remember Passwords unchecked. You may also want to ensure that its not a cookie thats storing it. Restart Firefox and you'll have much nicer fonts.
  • by spineboy (22918) on Monday September 06, 2004 @09:49AM (#10168260) Journal
    just a warning, if you look at it wash your eyes with gasoline.
  • Re:Tabs (Score:3, Informative)

    by KernelHappy (517524) on Monday September 06, 2004 @09:50AM (#10168267) Homepage
    FYI you don't need to use an extension to do "linkification", you can use a bookmarklet. I somehow missed the memo on bookmarklets and only recently found out about them maybe 6 months ago. For those that don't know, bookmarklets are javascript snippets that you turn into bookmarks and then can be executed on any page you view. I use them primarily for linkification and for URL manipulation. I have one that removes all redirects from urls (if a url is present within the url it sends you directly there) which is really handy for sites like fark when the redirect system takes a dump. Other bookmarklets that I rely on are Links List, which makes a new doc with all the links on a site, top which changes the URL tot he top level of the domain, decrement and increment which decriment or increment the last number in the url (great for boobie links).

    Various bookmarklets []
  • Re:adblock (Score:3, Informative)

    by glpierce (731733) on Monday September 06, 2004 @09:50AM (#10168269) Homepage
    Don't know whether anyone cares or not, but I keep my adblock settings available here []. My file is a bit more complex, but does an excellent job. If you find any problems or notice any ways it could be improved, let me know (email listed in the instructions file).
  • Re:adblock (Score:4, Informative)

    by glpierce (731733) on Monday September 06, 2004 @09:55AM (#10168304) Homepage
    Text in Regular Expressions isn't case-dependent in Adblock - you only need "a" insted of "[Aa]".
  • Advertisers seem to be finding a way around AdBlock by using those floating DHTML ads that fly across your screen and land in the middle of the screen and block the story you're trying to read. (Wow, that's annoying).
    Does anyone know of a way to stop this kind of advertising besides turning off JavaScript in the browser?

    You can block the individual JS files that load. Try blocking
  • by wagemonkey (595840) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:01AM (#10168347)
    I introduced my step-daughter's girl friend to Firefox when she was complaining about all the pop-ups in IE, but after about 5 minutes she switched back to IE. The only reason: In IE you can copy an image to the clip buffer and paste it into Photoshop or some other graphic program (she was grabbing pictures to make her Livejournal icons), but in Firefox (and Mozilla) you have to save the image and then open it in Photoshop as an extra step. Evidently managing all those little files was more effort to her than dismissing all the popups.
    Here is an extension to let her do that too. []
  • by Nimey (114278) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:16AM (#10168446) Homepage Journal
    Mozilla Firefox had terrible fonts on Linux. I know there is the possibility of using one compiled with xft. But where is it? Whenever a new release is announced, the version producing those bad fonts is what I find.
    You'll want the version that's built with GTK2, here. []
  • by Ayrehtek (612078) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:35AM (#10168561)
    There is also the tried-and-true trick of null-routing the advertisers' domain name(s) to your local host. Just add the following to your hosts file:
  • BugMeNot (Score:5, Informative)

    by Takkuri (806654) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:36AM (#10168571)
    I'm surprised no one's mentioned BugMeNot yet. It connects to a database of usernames and passwords, allowing you to log in as the public BugMeNot account.

    This is especially useful for a one-time posting on a site, or to read members-only newspapers and things like IGN Insider.
  • Re:Flashblock (Score:5, Informative)

    by fishdan (569872) * on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:48AM (#10168665) Homepage Journal
    Yea, I must agree -- macromedia employs the same tactics as most spyware companies to install stuff without your permission, and with the same excuses. I've stopped allowing Flash on our 300 workstation computers here, and I've banned Flash from the sites we host until I can see Macromedia showing higher level of ethical programming -- namely, I should not need an extension to selectively disable flash.

    I talked to a Flash evangelist about this, and he essentially told me " our real business is showing you ads that you cannot avoid. "

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:58AM (#10168727) Homepage
    One thing to be careful with...Firefox doesn't handle upgrades well when you have extensions. For example, if you had the Flash blocker (which makes it so you have to explicitly click to play Flash) installed in 0.8x, and upgraded to 0.9x, and let it import your settings, it also imports whatever it is that tells it that Flash is handled by that extension. But you no longer have that extension, so you simply cannot see Flash.

    And since you don't have that can't conveniently uninstall it to restore Flash, and since that externsion wasn't available for 0.9x you could not reinstall it (it may have since become available). What you had to do was poke around in Firefox's files and figure out what to delete to remove the extension. Yuck!

    So, before doing a major upgrade, uninstall all extensions.

  • Re:Tabs (Score:2, Informative)

    by DigiDarkCloud (262410) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:04AM (#10168767)

    I used to love Tabbrowser Extensions, but it got bigger and slower over time until it finally became unbearable for me. I still think it's a brilliant extension, but I use Firefox instead of Mozilla specifically because I don't want one package that does everything. (:

    Piro points to a list of smaller extensions [] that add features from TBE on an individual basis. I use a few of those and love them. But the one thing I really miss from TBE is the coloured tabgroups. I loved having related tabs all grouped together, and being able to close the group without closing all my other tabs as well.

    I have a few years of experience writing/hacking Mozilla-and-family extensions, so I may eventually tackle this myself. But I'm quite busy (lazy) and I keep hoping someone else will miss it enough to write a tabgroup extension for me. (:

  • by superyooser (100462) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:18AM (#10168862) Homepage Journal
    I like miniT, which lets you rearrange the tabs. There's an improved version [] of the original.
    miniT (drag+indicator) is a modification of Dorando's miniT (drag) which adds an indicator to where the tab will be inserted when you drop it. Installing it will replace the original miniT (drag).
  • by DigiDarkCloud (262410) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:25AM (#10168918)

    Maybe it's my installation, but every time I try to install an extension either it doesn't install or I have to reinstall firefox because it won't start anymore.

    That's been a major problem for a while, because extensions are/were essentially becoming part of the main program. You could uninstall them manually [], but it was a tricky, fragile practice. Fortunately, Firefox 0.9 introduced a new extension manager that makes the process much easier -- if the extension author supports it. Which leads us to the next point.

    I'd say the extensions system needs just a bit more work. And mind you, I've seen a lot of mozilla bugs as I've been with mozilla since version 0.8.x

    Not all of the problems are with the extension system itself. An extension can be well or poorly written; it can have bugs, incompatibilities, etc., just like you won't always have a success with every program you see on freshmeat and try out. It's not automatically stable just because it's an extension. If the extension author has written their extension to support the new extension manager, it's easy to uninstall if you determine it's of no use to you, but ideally, a bit of research should be done before you try an extension out. Sites like ExtensionRoom [] and [] have a place for users to put reviews and comments, so it's a good idea to glance over those, and see if lots of other people have problems, before taking the plunge.

  • Some more good ones (Score:2, Informative)

    by Fredge (186975) on Monday September 06, 2004 @11:50AM (#10169107)
    Here's some more extensions I use that I haven't seen mentioned.

    Dictionary Search []: Lets you set up various online encyclopedias and dictionaries (e.g. Wikipedia, so you can highlight any word in a website, right click and get a definition for it.

    Allow Right-Click []: Allows you to right click on sites/objects that have that option disabled.

    IEView []: Adds the option to open the page in IE to the right-click context menu for those few sites who won't come out of the stone ages and believe MS is the end-all, be-all of browsers.

    Basics []: Adds a button to the tab bar to open new tabs. This was available in Mozilla and I missed it when I first moved to Firefox.

    Unclose Tab []: Sometimes I'll close the wrong tab by mistake. This extension allows you to right click the tab bar and re-open a tab you just closed.
  • by typhoonius (611834) on Monday September 06, 2004 @01:14PM (#10169656) Homepage

    it also imports whatever it is that tells it that Flash is handled by that extension

    That'd be userChrome.css, in the chrome directory of your profile directory. Just remove it.

    The Weatherfox [] extension is pretty neat. It shows you your local weather in your status bar. I showed it to my sister so she wouldn't have to use crappy programs like WeatherBug.

  • by Artichoke (34549) on Monday September 06, 2004 @02:20PM (#10170059) Homepage
    > And even more evil for uninstalling Flashblock, if that's true.

    I am ashamed to discover that it is not true. Abject apologies to Macromedia.

    I've failed to entirely recreate my previous findings. My best guess is that Flashblock lets some through its net and I mistook this for Flash Player circumventing Flashblock.

    Yes, Flash Click To View is a better name, if more unwieldy.

  • RETRACTION (Score:3, Informative)

    by Artichoke (34549) on Monday September 06, 2004 @02:26PM (#10170111) Homepage

    I've investigated this further and can't reproduce my results.

    My best guess is that Flashblock is not hooking all the possible ways of triggering a Flash object, and I mistook this for untoward behaviour by the latest Flash Player.

    Abject apologies to Macromedia.

  • by TMOLI 42 (202038) on Monday September 06, 2004 @03:05PM (#10170346) Journal
    "Flashblock [] is an extension for the Mozilla and Firebird browsers that takes a pessemistic approach to dealing with Macromedia Flash content on a webpage and blocks ALL Flash content from loading. It then leaves a placeholder on the page that allows you to click to view the Flash content." -

    Works well for me but read the notes on the Installation page about known bugs. When you mouse over the blocked flash movies my cpu still shoots up a little, but not nearly as much as without this extention.
  • by OneFix (18661) on Monday September 06, 2004 @03:07PM (#10170360)
    Try the filters listed here []. They block most ads for most people and very little else. The only one I've found a problem with is has a "redirect.php" script that it runs on login which triggers one of the filters. I think there should be an adblock exclution list. It's actually interesting how popular adblock has remained even though there hasn't been a major update since at least Firefox 0.7...

    I would think someone would have designed a new extention with more bells and whistles.
  • Re:Tabs (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 06, 2004 @03:12PM (#10170399)
    is there a way to get rid of the "you don't have this plugin; do you want it?" popup?

    Uninstall the "plugin downloader plugin" (you can just delete or read-protect on Linux).
  • by mmortal03 (607958) on Monday September 06, 2004 @03:40PM (#10170572)
    There is a feature request filed for this at Bugzilla, however: RFE: "Open a JavaScript link in a new window" []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 06, 2004 @04:24PM (#10170874)
    If you don't want to install Java to have a convenient link to Bugmenot, there's always the bookmarklet, to be found in the Bugmenot FAQ []. I haven't used the extension, but the bookmarklet more than suffices for my needs.
  • by varebel (133951) on Monday September 06, 2004 @10:10PM (#10173351)
    I used to think was the coolest thing since sliced bread. Of course, it took Firefox's popup blocking along with the Adblock extension to make browsing it tolerable.

    However, since discovering the following resources, I don't even bother with anymore. [] [] []

    These sites offer much more in-depth technical information and are not funded by ad revenue.

1 + 1 = 3, for large values of 1.