My Firefox Extension (Add-On) Primer/Guide

Before we begin, if you don’t have Firefox (version 3 is the current one at this time) please get it.

Note: the coral cache, bugmenot, and imageshack extensions will need to be given permission to be allowed to install. The mozilla site is the only site authorized by default. Let me know if you can’t get that worked out.

Start here with these, I highly recommend them.


  • MR Tech Toolkit (formerly Local Install)
    • This one is for power users who want to get the most from firefox.
    • It adds a lot of helpful links to the menus, like a link to your profile folder.
    • I normally install this one first so I can disable the 4 second countdown.
    • I usually install about 4 or 5 extensions at a time, then restart with the button in the add-on window.
    • Using the restart button preserves your session, so any open tabs and windows will come back.
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  • Adblock Plus

    • After installing APB, I usually open its Preferences and go to Options menu and uncheck the next-to-last setting “show in toolbar” and check the “show in statusbar
    • Now when you’re on a site that you want to allow ads you can right-click the ABP stop sign to allow that specific page, or the whole domain.
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  • All-in-One Sidebar

    • This add-on gives you a sidebar for all the various firefox functions like bookmarks, history, downloads, add-ons, and other items like page source, page info, and more.
    • I install this mainly to keep the those functions of firefox from popping up in their own window.
    • One thing that I change is the sidebar width. If you middle click the left most edge of the Firefox window the default sidebar width will go to an almost unnoticeable skinny sidebar.

  • CoralCache: by NYU Coral Content Distribution Network

    • Click on the ‘extension’ link to install. (see the ‘note’ the the top of this post)
    • To use, right click on a page background, or on any link, and the context menu will have the Coralize options.
    • Scroll to the bottom of the page and get the ‘bookmarklet
    • Handy for when the site you’re trying to get to is very slow or crashed because of high traffic.
    • (the Firefox extension may never be updated to work with newer versions so I am recommending the bookmarklet to perform the same basic function.)

  • Context Search
    (this one will take some explaining, but it’s simple once you see it in action – it is the extension that I use the most, and get the most from as well)

    • The power of this extension shows when you are searching and browsing the web and want to do a new search on something you just read.
    • Instead of navigating away from the page you’re currently at all you need to do is highlight the text you want to search and right click the selected text and the context search option will be in the right click context menu.
    • If you don’t have this context search installed the context menu will have the “search for…” option of your active search plugin. (This will do a search for the highlighted text using the currently selected search tool in the top right of the Firefox window… the searchbar.)
    • This extension basically saves you the step of choosing the desired search plugin to use before highlighting and right-clicking. Highlight the text you want to search and then right-click and choose the type of search.
      • So, if you sill have only the default search plugins installed it’s time to load up with some new ones.
      • To add more search plugins first go to the official mozilla add-on search plugin page
      • Check to see if you could use any of the popular search plugins that are there.
      • I add on the IMDB and Wikipedia search plugins and periodically will add others, like YouTube.
      • The IMDB search plugin is great for looking up actors, actresses and the movies they’ve been in.
      • Wikipedia is sometimes better than just a google search.
    • If a site you would like a search plugin for is not there go to the mycroft site on mozdev
    • You can search there and find many many more search plugins and if you are so inclined you can learn how to make your own custom search plugins.
    • Also, many sites will make the searchbar icon kind of glow if the site supports the open search format. Click the ‘down arrow’ and there will be an “add” choice at the bottom of the search plugin list. (see this page for a short but sweet intro to open search – also see my next add-on choice)
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  • Add to Search Bar

    • This is a great companion to the previously mentioned Context Search.
    • In short, make any search field one of the choices for your searches in the search bar.
    • This also makes them then available in Context Search, if you have it installed.
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  • Download Statusbar

    • After installing, I make one setting change.
    • On the appearance tab uncheck the ‘show these buttons: Main Downloads Button’
    • This is of course optional, just showing you how I do it.
    • (I don’t use this extension/add-on with Firefox 3)
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  • CustomizeGoogle

    • Update Fall 2008: I recently stopped using this extension because I wasn’t using it that much, if at all.
    • Some settings to change. I know there’s a lot don’t be intimidated.
      • On the first one ‘Web’ I select “Add links to WayBackMachine” and I also use the “show favicons”
      • Go down the left side of the options and select “Secure (https)” on all that have the option.
      • I don’t have a recommendation for the settings on the “privacy” page
      • I personally use the “sticky google preferences” (but I think this can be done in your google profile settings as well?)
    • This extensions adds links to your google search results so you can easily search other engines after doing a google search
    • There’s also a lot of other stuff it does, as you will see if you go through the options.

  • Flashblock

    • Flashblock keeps flash items on a page from playing automatically, as they almost always do.
    • It gives you more control over the browsing experience.
    • One caveat however is that sometimes you actually want to use the flash (videos/games)
    • Sometimes the whole page is in flash
    • You can always allow flash for a site (by right clicking on the flashblock flash place holder) and choosing the allow option
    • I tend to only permanently allow very few sites, I don’t even allow YouTube, because some of it’s videos play automatically.

  • Forecastfox Enhanced

    • After installing, then restarting Firefox, this extension will pop up it’s options window for you.
    • Set your zip code on the first screen.
    • I usually change display placement to the top option “toolbar-menubar”
    • And then under that I also set specific position to 2.
    • I also change the display to “day and night” and “icon and label” for Current Conditions, Today’s Forecast, and Extended Forecast.
    • Depending on your monitor and font size, you may be able to display more than one day in the extended forecast.
    • I have 3 days on my extended forecast, but I also have a widescreen monitor.
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  • Image Zoom

    • The zooming built in to Firefox 3 is very good, so I don’t install this anymore
    • There’s all kinds of settings, but I don’t change anything
    • Image Zoom lets you zoom in and out of images on a page.
    • Usually I will right click the image, choose ‘View Image’, then use Image Zoom.
    • This keeps the zoomed image from being obscured by other elements on the page.

  • PDF Download

    • This lets you choose how firefox handles PDF links.
    • You can choose to open it with your default PDF application
    • You can save it to disk.
    • You can even view it as html in one easy click.
    • I find that last option great for copying text from a PDF.

  • Searchbar Autosizer

    • One of my favorites.
    • It’s name says it all, really.
    • There are some options, but I don’t change them.

  • Tab Mix Plus

    • (I don’t use this extension with Firefox 3, now that many of its features are built-in)
    • This one is basically a Tab and Session manager.
    • In the settings links (main) section I use single user mode.
    • Display section: I uncheck the new tab button because I only open new tabs with the keyboard shortcut (ctrl+T)
    • I also open links in new tabs with either ctrl+click or middle-click (with a clickable scroll wheel), mostly with middle-click
    • Session section: I use the firefox session manager, but you can use theirs if you want to.
    • A PDF with full details for Tab Mix Plus
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    • These are also recommended, just not as highly as they are suited for the more geek/nerd/power user

  • BugMeNot

    • The above link goes to a good explanation of bugmenot, and the new home for BugMeNot 2.0 is now hosted on the mozilla addon site.
    • Bugmenot is an extension that will try and find a login to a website for you from logins that people have submitted to the bugmenot database. You can look up sites directly on the bugmenot webpage, but with this extension installed you can just right click in a login or password field and choose bugmenot (usually at the bottom of the right click menu list).
    • Firefox will save the passwords for you just like any other page, but I don’t usually save the logins since they don’t always work and sometimes will stop working.
    • Bugmenot is basically a public list of logins and was made because lots of sites make you login just to read them or don’t have anonymous commenting.
    • Bugmenot is not for bypassing paid logins. Read the bugmenot site for more info.

  • ChatZilla

    • Simply, an IRC chat program inside firefox.
    • No need for a separate IRC program.

  • FireFTP

    • FTP in your browser
    • It isn’t the best FTP program, but you won’t have to fire up another program.

  • Firebug

    • Mainly for web developers. If you’re not sure, you probably don’t need it.

  • NoScript

    • This extension is for the paranoid. It blocks all scripts by default.
    • You can whitelist sites, just like flashblock, and adblock plus.
    • If you do install it, disable it on google if you have google accounts (gmail, gfyd, etc)
    • In the options go to the notifications tab and check “hide after 5 seconds”
    • I have actually disabled notifications altogether.
    • You can still click on the noscript icon on the firefox statusbar.
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  • Greasemonkey

    • An advanced scripting extension for hacking the way firefox displays the content of web site pages.
    • I only use a handful of these, one of which I wrote myself.
    • The MailTo GMail Compose script is a good one to make all email links use your GMail email instead of your system email application.

  • Video DownloadHelper

    • This will let you download videos and other media from webpages
    • Even embedded video, like from YouTube.
    • Most of those will be in .flv (flash video) format.

  • gAttach!

    • This is not really an extension to Firefox, but more of an addon to Windows, so your system default email program will be gmail, not outlook express, or some other local email program.
    • Download and install it and you’ll be off and running in no time.
    • The one thing that I like most about it is that I can now right-click on any file on my computer and the ‘Send To’ context menu choice that says ‘Mail Recipient’ will open up gMail with that file as an attachment to the email.

  • is.gd Creator

    • Like tinyurl.com is.gd creates short urls
    • This extension just makes that whole process much easier
    • is.gd is my new favorite shortener!

  • That’s it for now… questions? … comments?

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